Ask a Greenpoint resident to name the neighborhood’s most dangerous street, and they’ll likely point to McGuinness Boulevard, an infamous speedway that splits the neighborhood in half. Today, it became the city’s third “arterial slow zone” to receive a 25 mph speed limit, retimed traffic signals to discourage speeding, and focused enforcement.
The arterial slow zone will be installed by the end of next month along 1.1 miles of McGuinness between Freeman and Bayard Streets. Seven pedestrians and one cyclist died on this stretch of road between 1995 and 2007, according to CrashStat. DOT says that from 2008 to 2013, four other people were killed on McGuinness — three pedestrians and one cyclist, but no motorists — including Neil Chamberlain, Nicole Detweiler and Solange Raulston. Arterial streets like McGuinness comprise only 15 percent of New York’s roadways but account for 60 percent of its pedestrian fatalities, according to DOT.
A survey two years ago by Transportation Alternatives, Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, Community Board 1, and area residents found that two-thirds of McGuinness drivers were speeding above 30 mph, with 36 percent traveling above 35 mph. Truck drivers were clocked going as fast as 47 mph.
The 94th Precinct, which covers McGuinness, has issued nearly double the number of speeding tickets in the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year. The precinct, which ticketed people for jaywalking on McGuinness last month in the wake of a pedestrian death, has issued slightly more than two speeding tickets daily so far this year. McGuinness is not among the locations where speed cams are known to have been used under the limited automated speed enforcement program allowed by Albany. In January, Council Member Steve Levin asked DOT to install cameras on McGuinness near PS 34.
Neighborhood residents and elected officials have been working for years to slow down drivers and save lives on McGuinness, yielding incremental changes.
In recent years, DOT has moved speed limit signs to more visible locations, installed pedestrian countdown signals, narrowed lane widths, and added curb extensions to parts of McGuinness. In January, DOT said it was “reviewing the feasibility” of adding left-turn signals and removing parking spaces to improve visibility at intersections along McGuinness. In addition, the Pulaski Bridge is on track this year for a protected bikeway to replace a southbound car lane, which will both provide relief on the bridge’s crowded shared path and aid in slowing Brooklyn-bound drivers.
DOT announced today that it is launching a street safety working group focused not just on McGuinness, but on streets across North Brooklyn. It is modeled on the Delancey Street working group convened by State Senator Daniel Squadron, which resulted in significant design changes to that deadly street.
Update: The working group is being convened jointly by DOT and State Senator Daniel Squadron, and will include Community Board 1, local non-profits, elected officials and relevant city agencies focused on traffic safety in the Greenpoint area. Squadron’s office said the group is still in formation and will decide on a meeting schedule and area of focus soon.
“I have been advocating for traffic calming measures along McGuinness Boulevard for quite some time now, with little success,” said Assembly Member Joe Lentol, who is backing a 20 mph citywide speed limit, including on major streets like McGuinness. “I hope that this is only the beginning,” he said in a statement.