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Editorial: Dangerous by design

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The danger is obvious. Trying to merge onto the Whitestone Expressway from the southbound Cross Island Expressway can be a white-knuckle experience for drivers intent on exiting at 20th Avenue. It is hard to imagine that the engineers could not see how dangerous and difficult it would be to make this lane change when they designed the merger of these two highways.

Those dangers have become more apparent now that the new shopping centers have greatly increased the number of cars exiting at 20th Avenue. For years it was an accident waiting to happen. Now it is an accident that happens far too often.

Cars merging onto the Whitestone Expressway have only a short distance before the turn off to the 20th Avenue ramp. To get to the ramp they have to compete with cars and trucks coming off the Whitestone Bridge.

The Department of Transportation could not provide statistics about the number of accidents that have occurred at this location, but residents living near the ramp say that every 10 days or so there is a serious accident and that on several occasions trucks have careened through the fence and onto their properties.

Before accidents turn to tragedy, something must be done. The merge was poorly designed. Fixing it now will not be easy. One possibility is to build a barrier making the merge to the 20th Avenue exit impossible, but this would greatly inconvenience people looking to shop on the avenue.

One thing is certain: to leave this merge the way it is now would be extremely irresponsible. Before someone is killed, this dangerous situation must be addressed.

Editorial: Twice the victim

As Americans and as New Yorkers, we have all been deeply affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center. That terrifying image of the Twin Towers bursting into flames as the hijacked jets strike and then crumbling to the ground has been forever etched into our memory. We cannot look west to the Manhattan skyline without being reminded of the events of September 11, 2001.

But there is a group living among us that has been victimized twice – first by the terrorists and then by those who have used this tragedy as an excuse to justify their own mindless bigotry.

Speaking of the Muslims and Arab-Americans who live in Queens, Nusrat Alam, a student at Francis Lewis HS, said “we're probably victims double. Not only did we lose relatives, but now we are getting hated on.”

Although there are Arab-Americans living in Queens who question U.S. policy on the Middle East, we know of no ethnic group or community that has not condemned Saudi national Osama bin Laden and the terrorists who carried out the attack.

It should not be necessary for everyone who prays at a mosque or wears a turban and a beard to make a public show of their loyalty to this nation. And yet many groups feel compelled to do just that. Fear is the enemy of reason and logic. Even New Yorkers who see themselves as fair and open-minded have confessed to battling irrational fear and anger. They have been told repeatedly that Islam and the Koran condemn the killing of the innocent, but a visceral fear persists.

We cannot control what we feel and what we fear. We can control how we act on those feelings. At a time when freedom and democracy are being challenged by the Taliban and other religious fanatics, those who cherish freedom must be vigilant in protecting the rights of all Americans.

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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