Irony Strikes: Pedestrian Safety Activist Killed by Vehicle

Sometimes, irony can be clever … or insightful … or humorous. But there are also times where irony is nothing more than just plain cruel. A tragedy in New York earlier this month certainly falls into this last category.

Family, friends, and members of the community are mourning the death of Patricia Dolan, a well-known activist and civic leader in the borough of Queens. Dolan was known for her decision to eschew driving and either walk or take public transportation everywhere she went. (Imagine … never paying for car insurance.) As such, she was a tireless campaigner for pedestrian safety in and around Queens.

And now, the ironic part: Dolan was killed on November 15 after being struck by a car while walking to a transportation committee meeting in Queens.

The 72-year old Dolan had just stepped off of a bus on Hillside Avenue around 7:30 p.m., and was attempting to cross that street near the intersection of 198th Street when she was hit by a 1998 Nissan. She was later pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital. The driver of the car was not issued a citation by police (which implies that the auto-pedestrian accident might not have been the fault of the person behind the wheel).

Dolan had built up a reputation as a no-nonsense crusader for issues which included pedestrian safety and reckless driving. She repeatedly spoke at civic meetings in Queens and even cornered elected officials and committee members to express her viewpoints. The Queens native served as a civilian advisor to transportation agencies in the city, a member of her community board, a transportation coordinator for senior centers in her neighborhood, and the president of a coalition of 150 civic organizations called the Queens Civic Congress.

Dolan was known for tackling problems as seemingly trivial as the relocation of a bus stop in her neighborhood from the corner to the middle of the street. She also fought for improved pedestrian safety on Queens Boulevard, which is known by locals as the “Boulevard of Death.” (That’s because it consists of four trios of lanes with dividers in between each set of three lanes — making it a major hazard for pedestrians).

These issues were personal to Dolan because she never took up driving. According to her longtime friend, Dolan made this decision after she finished college because of the dearth of parking spaces in her Forest Hills neighborhood. Dolan also spoke frequently of the dangers of driving in and around Queens. So it’s cruelly ironic that her life would end as she stepped off a city bus and began to walk.

Dolan’s story is a good reminder to make sure you’re insured against pedestrian accidents while driving your car. If you’re not currently insured, request a car insurance quote from SafeAuto today.

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