Speeding Driver Kills Woman near 5MPH ‘Shared Street’ in Downtown Brooklyn

Aftermath of the fatal crash. Source: Citizen
Aftermath of the fatal crash. Source: Citizen
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Even in an area redesigned to prioritize people over automobiles, a driver still killed a woman Wednesday morning.

According to limited information from the NYPD and media reports, at about 9:30 a.m. an 81-year-old driver in a 2004 Ford Expedition was driving northbound on the five-mile-per hour “shared street” zone on Pearl Street, then somehow lost control of the multi-ton vehicle and crashed into a 40-year-old woman just north of Willoughby Street.

Police say the victim, Tracy Lewis-Belgrave, was crossing Pearl Street, near Willoughby Street, when the out-of-control driver plowed right into her — then didn’t stop until he crashed into a construction site, scattering debris and even sending a fire hydrant into the air.

That section of Pearl Street — between Willoughby and the pedestrianized MetroTech walk near the bustling office center — is home to a college and a school for kids in preschool through 12th grade. It is not part of the so-called “shared street” that the Department of Transportation created earlier this year on three blocks that form an L: Pearl Street between Fulton Mall and Willoughby Street, plus Willoughby Street between Pearl and Lawrence Streets. The goal was to make the barely used roadways safer for pedestrians by reducing the speed limit to five miles per hour, installing plantings, tables and seating, and changing the texture and color of the roadway itself.

The shared-street program on Pearl Street, where it meets Willoughby Street. Photo: Dave Colon
The shared-street program on Pearl Street, where it meets Willoughby Street. Photo: Dave Colon

DOT declined to comment on the fatal crash because it occurred outside of its experimental road project. But regardless of where the reckless driver killed the woman, the motorist had just left the 5MPH speed limit of the shared roadway, and clearly was going faster than that when he lost control of the massive car.

The driver was not charged, but police say the investigation is still ongoing.

The DOT did provide Streetsblog with updated traffic fatality statistics, which indicated that today’s victim is the 200th person to die on a New York City street so far this year, up from 185 in 2018 — an increase of more than 8 percent. There have been 104 pedestrians killed this year, up from 100 over the same period last year.

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