De Blasio Will Back Redesign Of McGuinness Boulevard After Greenpoint Teacher’s Death



McGuinness Boulevard, where Matthew Jensen (inset) was killed last week
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McGuinness Boulevard, where Matthew Jensen (inset) was killed last week

Mayor Bill de Blasio will back a redesign of Greenpoint’s notoriously treacherous McGuinness Boulevard after a local public school teacher was killed by a driver while crossing the roadway last week.

De Blasio, who’s vowed to jumpstart his Vision Zero initiative after a surge in pedestrian deaths this year, plans to announce his support for a redesign at a rally on Thursday afternoon. In recent days, local parents and safe streets advocates have called on the mayor to eliminate a lane of traffic in each direction, widen sidewalks, and install a protected bike lane on the boulevard.

A mayoral spokesperson said the city would engage the community and study the roadway before announcing the details of their plan.

McGuinness, a five-lane arterial roadway that splits Greenpoint in two, has long been a source of contention for local residents. After it was listed among the city’s most dangerous corridors for pedestrians and cyclists in 2010, the city pledged to retime traffic signals and step up enforcement — but never followed through, according to the area’s elected officials.

“It hasn’t really gotten better in 10 years,” Councilman Steve Levin told Gothamist last week. “It remains a problem.” Southbound vehicles speeding toward the entrance of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway have posed a particularly dangerous issue, Levin said.

In the last five years, 29 pedestrians and 21 cyclists have been injured on McGuinness, and one cyclist lost his life.

The latest fatality on the boulevard came last Tuesday. Matthew Jensen, who’d just turned 58, was crossing McGuinness after leaving a birthday party at his cousin’s house when he was killed by a driver in a Rolls Royce. The driver left the scene and has not been arrested.

Jensen taught English at P.S. 110, and was described by parents as a “ray of sunshine.” Many of the school’s teachers, parents, and students are behind the push to redesign McGuinness.

This story will be updated as more details become available.

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