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Serious Crash in Greenpoint Again Reveals Flaws in City Design, Enforcement Against Reckless Drivers

A woman was seriously injured — and is clinging to life — because a driver with a long record of recklessness slammed into her on a Greenpoint Street as she came home with milk.

Photo: Kevin LaCherra|

Police arresting Stanley Manel and charging him with failure to yield for striking and critically wounding a pedestrian on Wednesday night in Greenpoint.

A woman was seriously injured — and is clinging to life — because a driver with a long record of recklessness slammed into her on a Greenpoint Street as she came home with milk.

According to cops, the woman was crossing Sutton Street in the crosswalk at around 7 p.m. on Wednesday when the driver of a massive Ram 1500 pickup slammed into her as he made a left turn from westbound Nassau Avenue.

The driver, Stanley Manel, of Queens, remained on the scene and was charged with failure to yield and failure to exercise due care, minor charges that rarely lead to jail time or even a revocation of a driver's license.

Meanwhile, the severely injured woman was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where she remains in critical condition with head trauma.

The entirely preventable crash has multiple causes. Primarily, the responsibility for avoiding such a crash falls on the driver. In this case, Manel, a Queens resident, does not appear to take that responsibility seriously: His RAM truck has been nabbed by city speed cameras 26 times since 2018, including nine times last year.

There does not appear to have been any accountability in Manel's case. Because he never accrued 15 speed-camera tickets in any given 12 month-period, he was never subject to the city's now-expired Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, which, at the most, would have ordered him to attend a driver safety class.

And because Manel paid all his $50 camera-issued speeding tickets, his truck was never subject to towing. And because camera-issued tickets do not count as points on a driver's record, his license was never in danger of being suspended or revoked, despite clear evidence that he drover recklessly through New York City school zones at least nine times last year.

Second, Nassau Avenue is a dangerous two-way roadway that the city has encouraged cyclists to use as a route to and from the Koscziuszko Bridge bike path, which opened in 2019, yet resulted in no additional east-west bike infrastructure (see map below).

Using two-way Nassau to get to and from the K Bridge is a disaster. The purple line indicates that it is a sharrow situation.Map: NYC DOT

"Nassau functions as our Main Street in Eastern Greenpoint, but it has a lot of reckless drivers who use it as a cut-through," said neighborhood street safety activist Kevin LaCherra, who was on the scene of the crash on Wednesday night. "A real sea change for safety would be to make Nassau and Norman avenues one-way in opposite directions. They don't work as two-way streets."

LaCherra pointed out that recent census data show that both avenues have a high proportion of residents who get around by bike.

This is what Nassau Avenue looks like, looking east towards the Koscziuszko Bridge, a challenging bike ride:

Photo: Google

After initial publication of this story, a coalition of elected officials that includes Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, state Sen. Kristen Gonzalez, Council Member Lincoln Restler and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez issued the following statement:

Our neighbors should be able to safely cross the street, but constituents consistently share how concerned they are about dangerous, poorly designed intersections like this one. We are holding the injured person and their family in our hearts, and hope this serves as a reminder of caution — lives are destroyed by dangerous driving, both for the victims of crashes and the perpetrators.

These tragedies are not inevitable: policy tools exist that can make our streets dramatically safer. We’re calling on the New York State legislature to pass two critical bills that would lead to fewer incidents of traffic violence. Assembly Member Gallagher carries legislation requiring drivers with six or more speeding tickets in a year — or with 11 or more points on their license in 18 months — to install an intelligent speed assistance device in their car that prevents speeding. Sammy’s Law empowers the City Council to lower speed limits in New York City — the Council has already passed a home rule message urging its swift passage.

Speed contributes to a third of all traffic fatalities and every 10 mph of increased speed doubles the risk of death. Lowering the speed limit and enforcing real accountability for dangerous drivers are urgent steps we must take to protect New Yorkers.

As we’ve reiterated time and time again, the Department of Transportation must also enact more street safety interventions to dramatically slow down traffic and ensure pedestrian safety through mechanisms like raised crosswalks and aggressive implementation of daylighting to increase visibility at intersections across Greenpoint.

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