In April, 28-year-old Web designer Neil Chamberlain was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on McGuinness Boulevard, in Brooklyn. Rushed to the hospital with traumatic head and brain injuries, he passed away shortly thereafter.
Chamberlain was the second bicyclist to perish on McGuinness in 2008, both casualties of general lawlessness among drivers and a lack of law enforcement by the city. In that same time span, two other pedestrians were injured and many more have learned to fear the stretch of road running from Greenpoint Avenue to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
Shortly after Chamberlain’s death, volunteers from Transportation Alternatives and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth spent a total of eight hours monitoring traffic on McGuinness. They observed red lights being run 150 times, mobile phone distraction 89 times and 114 drivers who declined to yield for pedestrians.
New York is notorious for its dangerous crossings and, by all accounts, McGuinness Boulevard is up there with the worst of them. Instead of a regulated cohabitation, these streets often appear as battlegrounds, where drivers, bikers and walkers battle it out.
It is a pretty one-sided fight though, as neither walkers nor bikers can stand up against a speeding driver. With greater power comes greater responsibility, and so drivers are expected to obey street signs, lights and watch for pedestrians.
On streets like McGuinness, this awareness seems to be missing from a great deal of the drivers using the road. If these individuals consistently fail to obey the posted signs and lights, then physical enforcement seems to be the last recourse.
Barring a total shift in outlook, traffic tickets and license suspensions may be the only recourse for officials in parts of the city where these roads exist.
Since Chamberlain’s death, no news can be found relating to safe driving initiatives on or near McGuinness.