They have no need for speed — just urgency.
Locals are begging for safety improvements along Gerritsen Avenue after an allegedly drunk-and-speeding driver killed 17-year-old Sean Ryan there on July 17. One resident started a petition — now with more than 1,500 signatures — demanding traffic lights along the thoroughfare.
“We have petitioned, we have begged, we have pleaded for more traffic lights to line Gerritsen Avenue,” said Lauren Olsen, who started the petition. “We demand lights be put on our avenue. We need to protect our children, our neighbors, our family.”
Ryan was riding his bicycle in the median on Gerritsen Avenue when the driver who allegedly hit him tried to speed past another car, but collided head-on with the teen near Florence Avenue, according to authorities.
The accident was all too familiar for locals who remember when another speedster struck 12-year-old Anthony Turturro — who was also riding his bike along the same avenue — leaving him disabled and with brain damage in 2004. Residents should not have to wait for another tragedy to see the traffic lights they are asking for, said state Sen. Martin Golden (R–Gerritsen Beach).
“Hopefully we can for both Anthony — who was run down in 2004, who is alive today but is suffering different issues from that accident — and of course Mr. Ryan, Sean, who passed away recently,” Golden told News 12. “We don’t want more of this, we need to make sure we do the right thing.”
Gerritsen Avenue is a bus route so the only options for safety improvements are traffic lights or planted medians, said Golden.
“They can never put speed bumps on an avenue that’s a bus route, so the only thing that can really slow down traffic here are lights and green streets,” he said. “So we need more lights here in Gerritsen Beach.”
The Department of Transportation is looking into it, a spokeswoman said. “DOT is aware of the petition and community concerns about safety and will review the area for any possible enhancements, as we do at all intersections following a fatality,” she said.