A pedestrian at Norman and McGuinness, in 2004. A cyclist, at Kent and McGuinness, in 2007. At Nassau and McGuinness? In 1997, then 1999, then once more in 2008. These fatalities are now data points, pushpins on a map and Xs on the calendar. They’re also an unnerving glimpse into a fate that awaits other unfortunate Greenpointers in our not-too-distant future.
As sure as winter thaws to spring, it’s a sad and unnecessary truth in the neighborhood that speeding motorists on McGuinness Boulevard injure and kill residents. According to the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT), between 2005 and 2009 there were 57 incidents on McGuinness Boulevard of cars crashing into pedestrians or bicyclists. That’s 57 crashes in 60 months, and with warm weather approaching we’re going to be seeing a lot more pedestrians and bicyclists on that road.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and many of these deaths could be avoided. According to a study recently conducted by Transportation Alternatives, two-thirds of all drivers traveling on McGuinness Boulevard are going faster than the 30 M.P.H. city speed limit. Speeding motorists are a double-dose of danger to pedestrians and cyclists because they’re more likely to get into accidents than vehicles traveling within the speed limit and deliver more force when they crash.
Since the best incentive to slow motorists is our ticketing system, a bill to install 20 to 40 speed cameras throughout the city was introduced as part of this year’s state budget. That legislation successfully passed in the Assembly, but died in the halls of the State Senate. Along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, our own local politicians are livid with the Senate for failing to protect our citizens
“Speeding was the leading factor in fatal New York City crashes last year,” said Councilmember Steve Levin, in a press release. “We know speeding kills, and we know speed cameras save lives. Despite the devastation that speeding has caused families across New York, the State Senate still decided to prevent speed cameras from being installed here in New York City. I am disappointed they elected to not fund a proven measure that would protect the lives of New Yorkers.”
“I am deeply disappointed with the Senate’s actions,” added Assemblyman Joe Lentol, who has co-sponsored a bill with State Senator Daniel Squadron to put speed cameras on McGuinness Boulevard. “Especially as more New Yorkers become pedestrians and bicyclists.
Added NYS Senator Daniel Squadron, “It’s unacceptable that speed cameras were not included in the budget, but I’ll continue to fight to pass our bills to make our roads safer for all. We also need to… ensure proper NYPD investigation of all accidents.”
New York City’s police union was one of the strongest opponents to speed cameras, claiming that the devices are a poor substitute for live police work. Mayor Bloomberg chastised the Senate for voting down the measure, stating at a press conference that the next time a child is killed by a speeding car, [the public] should call these legislators and ask them why the death had occurred. He specifically targeted his disgust at Senate majority leader Dean Skelos, and Senators Simcha Felder (D – Brooklyn) and Martin Golden (R – Brooklyn).