What a drag: Majority of McGuinness drivers break traffic laws

What a drag: Majority of McGuinness drivers break traffic laws
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

Drivers on McGuinness Boulevard are speed demons.

Two-thirds of cars and trucks exceed the 30 mile-per-hour speed limit on the dangerous four-lane Greenpoint thoroughfare, a study released last week reveals.

Volunteers with cycling advocates Transportation Alternatives and Williamsburg activists Neighbors Allied for Good Growth used a radar gun during four non-rush hour periods between Feb. 28 and March 8 and observed automobiles racing past at speeds as high as 50 miles per hour — a full 20 miles per hour above the limit.

Many motorists weren’t even close to the speed limit — one third of cars and trucks broke the speed limit by five miles per hour or more, the stats show.

Bike boosters say the numbers prove that something must be done to tame the roadway, which was the site of 13 crashes between motorists and cyclists, and 44 crashes between drivers and pedestrians, from 2005 to 2009, according to state data.

“These findings provide clear evidence that drivers continue to blatantly disregard the law on McGuinness Boulevard and endanger local residents,” said Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White.

And with research indicating that pedestrians are 50 percent more likely to die in crashes involving vehicles going 40 miles per hour compared to cars traveling at the city’s speed limit, traffic safety advocates are demanding police action.

“The NYPD must step up enforcement of speeding, and until they do, everyone will be risking their lives any time they’re near this dangerous road,” said White.

Cops say they are enforcing traffic laws on the truck route, particularly at the intersection of McGuinness Boulevard and Engert Street, where they claim they have ticketed drivers making illegal right turns.

But unseasonably warm weather has worked against them, said 94th Precinct Deputy Inspector Terence Hurson, whose officers responded to three bicycle accidents in Greenpoint over the past month.

“The nicer weather has hurt us more than it helps us,” said Hurson, who claims his precinct was one of the top patrols in the city in enforcing speeding violations. “Usually in bad weather we have fewer accidents because there are fewer people driving and cycling.”

Cyclists remain wary of the boulevard, which serves as a conduit for local traffic as well as commercial rigs, commuters, and bike riders moving between Brooklyn and Queens.

“The design of the street, combined with signal timing that encourages the free flow of traffic, means that drivers of large vehicles can speed with impunity,” said Greenpoint resident Summer Greenstein.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) — who is pushing the NYPD to improve its crash investigations — says speeding on McGuinness Boulevard can be stopped with enforcement.

“We have to get speeding under control for the safety of bicyclists, pedestrians and other drivers,” said Levin. “We have to vigorously enforce speed laws in New York.”

Reach reporter Aaron Short at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2547.