At Vigil for Beloved Greenpoint Teacher Killed in Hit & Run, Mayor de Blasio Commits to Redesigning McGuinness Boulevard and Pushes Albany to Pass Crash Victims Rights & Safety Act

Legislative bill package includes provisions allowing NYC to extend the hours of successful school zone speed safety cameras and “Sammy’s Law” to repeal state law that forbids New York City from setting lower life-saving speed limits

BROOKLYN, NY —At Greenpoint’s McGolrick Park, blocks from the McGuinness Boulevard intersection where a reckless driver killed beloved public school teacher Mattthew Jensen in a hit-and-run last week, Mayor de Blasio committed to “putting money in the budget immediately to redesign and fix McGuinness Boulevard once and for all.” 

“We're going to just plain do it,” Mayor de Blasio told the crowd of PS 110 students and families. “We have to do it now to save lives.”

“For years, Greenpoint has pleaded for a simple right: to cross the street without fear of death or injury. With the Mayor’s announcement, we can invest in the structural changes to McGuinness Boulevard and finally bring an end to these devastating tragedies, said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher. 

"TA activists have sounded the alarm on McGuinness for a decade. City Hall knows how dangerous this street is and knows how to fix it. We need Mayor de Blasio to end the inaction and make concrete changes on McGuinness Boulevard and other speedways across the five boroughs before any more innocent lives are lost to traffic violence," said Danny Harris, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "The state legislature must also step up and pass the entire Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act to help end traffic fatalities and support survivors statewide."

“Why must we wait for a tragedy to strike before something is done about these careless drivers who don’t value the lives of our students, our families, our residents and our teachers?” askedShaun D. Francois, I, President of Local 372 and D.C. 37, the crossing guards’ union. “Why must our residents live in danger with these dangerous intersections? Will our School Crossing Guards continue to be harassed for doing their jobs? What will happen when all students go back to school in September? Our hearts go out to the family of beloved teacher Matthew Jensen. Let’s fix our dangerous intersections immediately. We must support the Crash Victim Rights & Safety Act. Let’s keep our neighborhoods safe.”

"This year is one of the deadliest years for traffic fatalities in nearly a decade," said Senator Andrew Gounardes. "We must end the epidemic of traffic violence in our city. We know what changes we need to implement to ensure that no parent, senior, or person of any age lives in fear of crossing the street or riding a bike. The Crash Victims Right and Safety Act is a strong legislative package that will make the changes necessary to keeping our streets safe for everyone. These bills will save lives by holding reckless drivers accountable, prevent speeding through automated enforcement, teach the next generation of drivers how to share the roadway properly, and much more. I'm grateful to see my colleagues come out to help us pass the CVRSA as soon as possible."

The Crash Victims Right and Safety Act is a package of eight bills to address the increase in traffic violence, encourage the purchase of safer vehicles, hold reckless drivers accountable, combat impaired driving, protect our most vulnerable street users, and support those personally impacted by crashes. Traffic fatalities are breaking grim milestones and on the rise – as are the purchases of deadly SUVs – which makes the passage of this package all the more important this year. 

Two bills in the package would apply to New York City specifically, and would be a key tool in the city’s Vision Zero efforts. One is a provision that would extend the hours of the successful speed safety cameras in school zones. According to NYC DOT data, speed safety cameras reduce speeding by 72 percent and injuries by 17 percent, and two-thirds of vehicles ticketed by safety cameras did not receive another violation in the same calendar year. State law currently forbids this automated enforcement from operating 24/7, and this law would remove this restriction. 

The other NYC-specific provision would repeal the current state regulation that prohibits New York City from lowering the speed limit below 25 mph (or 15 mph in school zones). This bill, “Sammy’s Law,” is named after Samuel Cohen Eckstein, a 12-year-old boy from Brooklyn who was killed by a speeding driver in 2013.By authorizing speed limits lower than 25 miles per hour, New York City would join other U.S. cities such as Washington, D.C., Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, and Minneapolis, MN in setting appropriate, safe speeds through our dense urban residential neighborhoods. Each one-mph increase in speed results in nearly a three percent increase in mortality, and this measure would play a key role in reducing fatal crashes.