Victory for McGuinness Slow Zone

Bureaucratic Victory! © Vision Zero

For a while now, we’ve been talking about the danger zone of speeding vehicles that is McGuinness Blvd, where some truly tragic incidents have happened over the last year, most notably the death of 32-year-old Nicole Detweiler, who was crossing the street in December when she was fatally hit by two vehicles.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. In 2010, a 28-year-old was the victim of a hit-and-run and later taken off life support after days of being unresponsive due to serious brain injuries.  In 2009, a 33-year-old British woman was struck and killed by a flatbed truck where Nassau meets McGuiness. And the list goes on.

A study from Transportation Alternatives found that the boulevard is one of the most dangerous in NYC, citing that 66% of drivers speed on that wide stretch of road between the Pulaski Bridge and the BQE (only 1.1 miles in length). It doesn’t help that the street is also a major throughway for trucks. In 2010, Transportation Alternatives volunteers observed a whole host of violations on Nassau and McGuinness within only 1 hour of watch time, including drivers running red lights 150 times, talking on cell phones 89 times, and failing to yield to pedestrians 114 times.

Despite protests from activist groups like Right of Way and a neighborhood petition, it seemed like progress would forever be stuck in bureaucratic quick sand.

But finally our wishes have been granted, and McGuinness has become a top priority in Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate (yes, actually 100% eliminate) traffic deaths in NYC. And we could not be happier.

On Wednesday, Assemblyman Joe Lentol announced  that McGuinness will become the city’s third “Arterial Slow Zone,” reducing its speed limit from 30 to 25 mph, re-timing traffic lights and increasing NYPD enforcement. The new speed limit will start on 5/12.

“North Brooklyn needs a safer, slower McGuinness, where no matter who you are — a pedestrian, bicyclist or motorist — you can know you are safe using it,” said State Senator, Daniel Squadron. Council Member Stephen Levin and Dept of Transportation Commissioner, Dolly Trottenberg, were also instrumental in passing the reform. Back in February, Levin introduced a resolution calling on the NY State Legislature to lower speed limits to 20 mph, but progress is progress and we’re giving you, Stephen L. (yes, you), a pat on the back for a job well done.

It might seem like a small change, but apparently lowering the speed limit by even 5 mph can be the difference between life and death. A study conducted by the United Kingdom Transportation Department found that a pedestrian has a 45% chance of dying if struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour, but when the vehicle is traveling at 20 mph, there is only a 5% chance that the impact will be fatal.

A bike lane will also be added to McGuinness to keep cyclists safe on their journey between Brooklyn and Queens (commence mean comments, blaming cyclists for everything). When all is said and done, 25 other danger areas across the city will receive the royal slowing treatment. Combined, these major “arteries” have been the cause of approximately 60% of pedestrian fatalities in the city.

We really hope this works.

For more information, consider attending a Brooklyn Vision Zero “Public Workshop” on 4/29 at Brooklyn College.

11 Comments

  1. Rodrigo Toscano says:

    I have to admit, I guess goose pimples of happiness when saying “Vision Zero.” What a great campaign name and goal! And that it’s being implemented.

    Si se puede!

    Reply
  2. Erik Gerlach says:

    Thankfully some progress with safer streets around here. This proposed bike lane must be something that physically divided from car traffic rather than simply painted on the pavement. Too many drivers simply use it for parking, driving into and contributing to hazardous conditions.

    Reply
  3. diehipster says:

    Vision Beardo!
    Anyone remember the PSA “Cross on the green, not in between”? Next you people will want stroller and skipping lanes.

    Reply
  4. Sherry says:

    While I’m happy McGuinness Boulevard is becoming a “slow zone,” adding a bike lane to the street is a bad idea. Safety is the best policy when biking, and McGuinness will still be too busy. Even though Manhattan Avenue north of Greenpoint has a bike lane, it’s still more calm to travel to via Franklin.

    (This is not a mean comment blaming cyclists for anything; it’s my opinion as a cyclist.)

    Reply
    • Teresa says:

      I agree that it’s more prudent for cyclists to travel on other streets, but the addition of bike lanes in this case might serve as a visual reminder to drivers that there are other street users than themselves, and therefore help them remember that they should slow down.

      Reply
  5. Mat says:

    This is great news! I’m a driver, pedestrian and occassional cyclist and I couldn’t see why most of the streets in Greenpoint should have a speed limit of more than 20 mph. 25 for McGuinness should be good if everything hels to enforce it. The cameras can help with other things as well – last year my car was totaled when parked on the street – in the middle of the block, right up against the curb, by a hit & run truck driver. A year before that, it had been hit by a truck on Provost street, as nearly every car that has ever been parked on Provost has been!

    Reply
    • Mat says:

      …but more so, I’ve seen a couple of those accidents and on McGuinness, it’s WAY more likely to be solely the driver’s fault. I watch people run the red light, (INCLUDING POLICE VEHICLES in non-emergency mode – I was almost hit by TWO of their trucks one evening when I had the walk sign) while waiting to cross my street nearly every single day.

      Reply
  6. Teresa says:

    … also, the bike lane serves to narrow the visual width of the roadway, which serves as a traffic calming device. It’s a traffic calming technique used by planners. The environment tells drivers how to behave and an extra wide roadway is a subliminal invitation to speed up.

    Reply
  7. Randy says:

    Sounds good, but how are they going to add a bike lane? By eliminating parking along Mcguinness? I have both a bike and a car and would rather have more parking in the neighborhood than a bike lane down Mcguinness.

    Would also like to see a reduction in alternate street parking rules to twice a week, but guess that is another issue.

    Reply
  8. isage says:

    Does this slow zone & bike lane include the Pulaski bridge? Drivers are really opening it up on that stretch, maybe 50-60mph. Also, the pedestrian and bike traffic is really cramped.

    Reply
  9. b says:

    People shouldn’t drive as much as they do in the city. Instead, use public transportation – the truly urban way. Or maybe Brooklyn is just another City suburb?

    Reply

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