Mayor Commits to Changes on McGuinness Boulevard After Teacher’s Death

Mayor Commits to Changes on McGuinness Boulevard After Teacher’s Death
Mayor Bill de Blasio attends a vigil organized by Families for Safe Streets at McGolrick Park in Greenpoint on May 27, 2021. (Image: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would dedicate funding to redesign a dangerous Greenpoint roadway after a beloved local school teacher was killed in a hit-and-run there last week.

De Blasio made the commitment to reshape McGuinness Boulevard at a vigil on Thursday, which was organized by safe streets advocates and elected officials in response to the death of Matthew Jensen, a teacher at nearby PS110, who was struck and killed by a driver on the street earlier this month.

“We’re going to apply Vision Zero right here, right now on McGuinness Boulevard, because it’s long overdue,” de Blasio told about 200 vigil attendees, which included PS110 students and their parents. “We are putting money in the budget immediately to redesign and fix McGuinness Boulevard once and for all.”

He also reiterated his support for the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act, a slate of eight state bills designed to reduce traffic fatalities.

McGuinness Boulevard, a five-lane arterial roadway, is a notoriously dangerous corridor for pedestrians and cyclists. At least three people have been killed by drivers and 411 people have been injured on the 1.1-mile roadway in the last decade, according to city data.

The city designated the boulevard a “slow zone” in 2014, retiming traffic signals and increasing enforcement efforts. Nevertheless, at least two dozen people have been injured in crashes on the roadway since then, and a cyclist was  killed by a box truck driver in 2019.

The intersection of McGuinness Boulevard and Bayard Street, where Matthew Jensen was killed. (Image: Google Maps)

“Every single one of us knows that it could be any one of us to be killed there,” said State Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, who represents the area, at the vigil. “If we don’t do something, something meaningful, there will be many more who will die on the McGuinness Boulevard.”

Details on the mayor’s plan were few and far between. A City Hall spokesperson told the transit news site Streetsblog today only that the administration was “putting money in the budget to commission a study to redesign the boulevard.”

The “study will include community outreach efforts to give Greenpoint a seat at the table and ask the whole community how they want this redesign to look,” the spokesperson, Mitch Schwartz, said.

With just over seven months left in de Blasio’s term, overhauling the roadway may fall to the mayor’s successor. Still, local activists and elected officials celebrated the news as a step in the right direction.

“We are finally going to bring change to McGuinness Boulevard,” Gallagher tweeted after the mayor’s comments.