Greenpoint Hit-and-Run Victim Dies. McGuinness Blvd Must Be Tamed.

Newel_Mc_Guinness.pngCalyer Street and McGuinness Boulevard, where a driver killed Neil Chamberlain and fled the scene. Image: Google Maps.

Gothamist reports that Neil Chamberlain, a 28-year-old Williamsburg resident, was taken off life support today after a driver struck him and fled the scene in Greenpoint early Sunday morning.

The still-unidentified driver was traveling east on Calyer Street and struck Chamberlain as he was walking between McGuinness Boulevard and Newel Street. Detectives are currently looking for video that may have recorded the fatal collision, said the NYPD. 

Local activists say that the McGuinness corridor is one of the most dangerous in Brooklyn. "We’ve been close to begging people to do some sort of traffic calming," said Ryan Kuonen, an organizer with Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, a North Brooklyn community organization. "It’s a racetrack." 

At the most dangerous intersection along McGuinness, where it intersects with Nassau Avenue, there were 34 crashes and two fatalities between 1995 and 2005, according to CrashStat. The violence has not abated since. Last December, a truck driver killed 33-year-old Solange Raulston at that intersection. The area’s growing population means more and more pedestrians and cyclists are being exposed to dangerous conditions along the corridor. 

The federal stimulus-funded reconstruction of Nassau offers a golden opportunity to make the area safer, said Kuonen. Since the city will be ripping up the street anyway, adding traffic calming measures — especially necessary at the intersection with McGuinness — would be easy and cheap. Following Raulston’s death, NAG and Transportation Alternatives jointly called for safety improvements at Nassau and McGuinness. 

A low-cost fix to traffic signal timing could improve safety along the rest of McGuinness. "The lights are timed for speed," Kuonen said, not safety. She also called for some basic speeding enforcement. "The 94th precinct doesn’t really police that stretch," she said. "If people were being pulled over for speeding, it would stop." 

  • Fendergal

    I ride that street every day as part of my commute, and I know it’s only a matter of time before I get hit.

  • Danny G

    If it gets rebuilt and remains statistically dangerous, the next person to get injured or die would have a pretty good case in court against the city.

  • Gpt

    After Raulston’s death I called the 94th Precinct’s Community Affairs and asked for speed traps on McGuinness. Nothing changed. Call them up and ask for it: 718-383-5298

  • J

    Let’s not forget that the Pulaski Bridge is 3 lanes in each direction (McGuinness has 2), with no intersections for 2/3 of a mile. It’s so overbuilt, it functions as an interstate, dumping cars onto McGuinness Blvd, which is timed to move traffic as quickly as possible. Is it any wonder cars speed there?

  • J

    Let’s not forget that the Pulaski Bridge is 3 lanes in each direction (McGuinness has 2), with no intersections for 2/3 of a mile. It’s so overbuilt, it looks and functions like an interstate, dumping cars onto McGuinness Blvd, which is timed to move traffic as quickly as possible. Is it any wonder cars speed there?

  • m

    It’s important to remember that McGuinness Blvd was essentially turned into a highway in the 1960s. From Forgotten NY:

    “McGuinness Boulevard, Greenpoint’s connector to Long Island City via the Pulaski Bridge over Newtown Creek, was created in 1964 when all the buildings on the east side of Oakland Street were knocked down and the roadway turned into a 6-lane pedal to the metal road connecting the Pulaski with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.”

    If anybody has any more information about this, I think it would useful in the effort to reclaim the Boulevard.

  • The Pulaski Bridge Coalition is lobbying the City to convert at least one lane of the bridge from cars to bikes, leaving more room for pedestrians in the narrow walkway. The Coalition includes the Brooklyn and Queens volunteer committees of Transportation Alternatives; to get involved, contact the committees.

  • Taylor

    The McGuinness/Pulaski corridor stays terribly dangerous even into LIC, where the bridge exit/entrance is an obstacle course. The whole thing needs an overhaul.

  • The McGuinness-Pulaski corridor is prime for a median protected two-way bike lane — on the scale of Kent Avenue — that also provides traffic calming.

  • carculturekills

    I used to live in Greenpoint, and that street is a nightmare. And the Pulaski Bridge — theres’ rarely traffic on it, so people use that to just open up and drive as fast as physically possible. Then those coming from Queens just keep accelerating down McGuinness.

    Of course, it’s also very bad in Long Island City, at the base of the bridge. Many, many rush hour commuters take the 61 bus over the bridge from Greenpoint to get the 7 train at Vernon Jackson. They all must cross at the base of the bridge to walk one block to the subway. There is no crosswalk, and it is exceedingly dangerous.


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