The Pulaski Bridge traffic needs calming, activists and community leaders say

McGuinness pedestrian death stokes calls to make the street safer

The Brooklyn Paper
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Two vehicles killed a woman trying to cross McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint on Sunday night and leaders and activists are ramping up the push to slow the busy road.

The woman, 32-year-old Nicole Detweiler of Bedford-Stuyvesant, stepped off into the crosswalk at 5:30 pm at the corner of Nassau Avenue and was hit twice, first by a BMW car, then by a box truck, cops said. First responders pronounced Detweiler, who a friend says was planning to marry her long-time boyfriend, dead at the scene. It was not long before local politicians were raising the call for traffic calming on the five-lane thoroughfare that feeds the Pulaski Bridge, which links Greenpoint to Queens.

“There is a lot of traffic coming off the bridge and it is all going fast,” said John Beadle, a member of the Kings County Democratic Committee.

The intersection has claimed the lives of three pedestrians and two cyclists since 1995, according to data from the road safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, including DJ Solang Raulston, who died biking on Nassau Avenue in 2009 when a truck sideswiped her. The group once called the intersection the most dangerous in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. Design suggestions vary, but the activists and leaders we spoke to agree something has to change.

“We need left-turn signals so that the people who are turning do not have to rush,” said Herman Dziegielewski, a friend of Detweiler’s who has been campaigning to make the road safer for more than a year, adding that he does not want to see the road become “a boulevard of death.”

“She was a beautiful person,” he said of his Detweiler.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint) said left-turn lights should just be one in an arsenal of road safety tactics.

“Another heartbreaking accident at this deadly intersection calls for swift action in the new year under the new mayoral administration to install red light cameras, speed cameras, and new traffic calming measures,” said Lentol.

Incoming Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who will be sworn in at City Hall by former President Clinton on Wednesday, has pledged to bring traffic fatalities down to zero by 2024.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:16 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pat from 11211 says:
People need to be alert. Get off your cell phones. Stop texting and social networking while you're walking. Drivers and bicyclists are reckless. Pedestrians need to be vigilant against these dangers. It's a terrible tragedy and a horrible accident. Nobody ran a red light, and there's no evidence that they were speeding either. Pedestrians need to be more careful until the DOT can find a way to make crossing mcguinness safer.
Dec. 31, 2013, 1:58 pm
Rob from Williamsburg says:
McGuinness Avenue is terrifying for cyclists and pedestrians. I praise Joe Lentol for bringing the new bike lane to the Pulaski bridge, and I look forward to the red light cameras and speed cameras. I am so sorry for Nicole's family and friends' loss.
Dec. 31, 2013, 2:21 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Honestly, streets can only become dangerous when one makes it dangerous. As much as motorists need to play their role, so should pedestrians. The truth is that jaywalking, which has been found at numerous accidents, has been placing them into harm's way, but there is hardly any enforcement of that. Even if there is any, the fine for it is nothing more than a slap on the wrist and will encourage them to do it again. I'm not surprised to hear the call for traffic calming coming from Transportation Alternatives being that they are very anti-motor vehicle to begin with. I hope that de Blasio will understand that there are better ways to help such as fixing the timing on traffic lights and crossings as well as have all groups follow the rules of the road, rather than just one group only. For the record, I do give my condolences to those that got hit, but that still doesn't mean that there should be extreme changes just because of that not to mention how much it will cost.
Dec. 31, 2013, 8:18 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
By 2024? Seriously? How many people will be dead by then? The city needs to get more turn arrows on stop lights in place so that pedestrians can cross separate from speeding motorists. Me in the crosswalk--I always lose, even tho I have the "right of way."
Jan. 1, 2014, 8:28 pm
Scott from Park Slope says:
Traffic needs to be calmed city-wide. McGuiness is a speedway, but so are Queens Boulevard and 4th Ave in Brooklyn. 20mph is a much more reasonable speed given the population density and prevalence of pedestrians and cyclists. If you want to go faster than that, the BQE is right there.
Jan. 1, 2014, 10:02 pm
CG from Greenpoint says:
Tal Barzilai, here is the law regarding crosswalks. "When there is no traffic control signal, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians, particularly if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk, or there is potential danger to the pedestrian [Section 1151, NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law]." According to the department of transportation, she was in the crosswalk when she was hit and the BMW wasn't even ticketed? Seems like that is the case as most other fatalities. As you put it, "not even a slap on the wrist". I see people speeding and on their cell on phones ALL THE TIME on this street. Seems like you are blaming the victim. She was in the crosswalk! Are cell phone records subpoenaed to prove that the driver wasn't on the phone? What about speeding? If the speed limit is 30 miles an hour, the city is really encouraging people to go 39 miles an hour because police never ticket for 9 miles over the speed limit. Studies show that a pedestrian hit by a car going a 30 miles an hour has a chance of survival whereas if the car is going 40 miles an hour, there's little chance of survival. This accident occurred one block from an elementary school, located right on the Boulevard of Death. THIS AREA NEEDS TO BE A 20 MILE AN HOUR SLOW ZONE WITH SPEED CAMERA ENFORCEMENT. Also, left hand turn signals need to be installed stat. Also, parking places must be removed for better sight lines all along Kent Ave and Bedford Ave in Williamsburg (I can't see anything whether walking or driving) and along McGuinness. It is ridiculous that we are letting people die to gain 10 more parking places. This area is increasing becoming more densely populated and a tourist destination. We need to protect human life above all other considerations. What about kids, older people, blind people, deaf people? They should be able to cross the street without dying. 5 people killed in the same intersection and the city does nothing? That is unconscionable.
Jan. 2, 2014, 2:12 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Speaking of jaywalking, these letters on the NY Times were very interesting, and I suggest you all read them.
Jan. 2, 2014, 7:11 pm
CG from Greenpoint says:
There really needs to be a 20 mile an hour, heavily enforced slow zone right by PS34 on McGuinness.
Jan. 3, 2014, 3:48 pm
Dennis from Brooklyn says:
CG: You cited "When there is no traffic control signal, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians..."

There is clearly a traffic signal in the photo above. She most likely was crossing against the light, and that's why the BMW driver didn't get a ticket.
Jan. 3, 2014, 3:57 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
There wouldn't be boulevards of deaths if pedestrians stopped jaywalking to begin with. I am not implying that they deserved what happened, but jaywalking does place them into harm's way. For the record, I do follow a lot of traffic laws, and I highly doubt that the anti-car crowd ever practices what they preach giving them no moral legitimacy to make such statements. After reading those letters to the editor on the NY Times, I could never understand why jaywalking is hardly enforced in NYC unlike just about everywhere else. Perhaps the fine needs to be raised higher to make it a cash cow, which will encourage cops to crack down on it more.
Jan. 3, 2014, 7:20 pm
ty from pps says:
Yes, Dennis, most likely... we all know how good the New York "No Criminality Suspected" Police Department is at enforcing laws, right?
Jan. 3, 2014, 10:13 pm
ty from pps says:
Oh and Tal... There are MANY MANY MANY thing you "never understand."
Jan. 3, 2014, 10:14 pm
J from Greenpoint says:
I drive and walk along here all the time. Every other person walks across here without looking up properly. Yes, the road should be slowed down but pedestrians have to be mindful as well. Responsibility goes both ways.
It is actually a 4 lane road, not 5, unless you consider the block right after/before the bridge then it is actually 6.
This I believe will be changed next year when they put in a bike lane to the Pulaski.
With all due respect to bike riders, choose another street. This road handles trucks and cars between Manhattan and the BQE and the Williamsburg/Greenpoint waterfront. Unless you are determined to remove all industry from the area there is nowhere else for trucks to go. There needs to be some common sense to.
Jan. 5, 2014, 12:56 pm
CG from Greenpoint says:
Jan. 10, 2014, 8:28 pm
CG from Greenpoint says:
Please sign the petition. Over 1,000 signatures...that's over 100 a day. People obviously feel very strongly that something needs to be done to prevent more deaths.
Jan. 10, 2014, 8:29 pm
Henry from Greenpoint says:
I was there right after it happened and spoke to a nearby store owner who has seen many accidents occur there. He mentioned that the victim seemed to have been on her phone and walked against the light as other peds waited for the walk signal. Despite this, as someone who lives on McGuinness and has advocated for street safety, traffic does speed down this road at fifty to sixty mph regularly.
March 9, 2014, 11:19 am

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