Op-ED: Vision Zero Initiative Spark of Hope for Safer City Streets
by Martin Malavé Dilan, New York State Senator | 18th Senate District
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” rollout this week is welcomed news.
Having represented a district with one of the city’s deadliest stretches of road for more than a decade, the reality that McGuinness Boulevard may finally get the attention it deserves, has yet to sink in.
After years of inquiry, letters and requests, in less than a month, New York City communities will have a grass-roots assessment of how we can reduce traffic-related, pedestrian deaths to zero over the next ten years, doesn’t seem real.
No more than a week ago I was wondering how the Department of Transportation, and incoming Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, would respond to the latest requests for speed cameras and traffic calming measures on McGuinness Boulevard after yet another death there.
While I sincerely hoped they would heed the most recent suggestions, the fact was that past year’s requests to remedy the problems and increase enforcement on McGuinness, were given little attention.
Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to end the scourge of city-wide pedestrian deaths, and the community’s commitment to the McGuinness issue, are promising. And I am certain Commissioner Trottenberg’s experience makes her the ideal choice to meet the challenge and fulfill the Mayor’s “Vision Zero” initiative.
The sad truth is many of us in the community have echoed the most recent requests for years.
There have been numerous reports highlighting the risks and even more accident reports and deaths confirming them.
On September 4, 2013, I made the most of the speed camera legislation the Senate worked to pass that summer, and requested a camera be installed on McGuinness Boulevard, between Calyer Street and Meserole Avenue. The block is within a quarter mile of two schools and has been the scene of multiple pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
After a month I was thanked for the McGuinness suggestion and two months later a pedestrian was struck and killed a block away at McGuinness Boulevard and Nassau Avenue; exactly where calls for traffic-calming measures have been made for years.
The tragedy is that these deaths were avoidable. Speed cameras and increased enforcement in the area will have an impact on McGuinness Boulevard, and at the very least, pedestrian deaths will get the attention they deserve. After that, it won’t be long before communities throughout Brooklyn see that addressing these troubled boulevards, crossings and intersections are well-beyond suggestions, they are dire needs.