At 12:45 am on May 18, Matthew Jensen — a 58-year-old Greenpoint resident and beloved teacher at P.S. 110 — was struck and killed by a black Rolls Royce at the corner of McGuinness Boulevard and Bayard Street.
The driver sped off and Jensen, who was walking home from his own birthday celebration, was rushed to Woodhull Hospital, where he later died.
The P.S. 110 and Greenpoint communities mourned the loss of a friend, teacher, and neighbor, and now they are demanding action.
Last Thursday, they organized a vigil and rally at McGolrick Park. The event honored Jensen’s life and demanded that the city dedicate funding to redesign McGuinness Boulevard. The event was attended by multiple city officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Everyone from PS 110, I’m so sorry that you’re gathered here in pain and mourning, Mathew Jensen wanted to help kids,” de Blasio said before a crowd of approximately 200, including many of Jensen’s former students. “He is gone because of a hit-and-run crash. He is gone because someone killed him and left the scene, and this is what happens too often.”
The mayor reaffirmed his commitment to eliminating traffic fatalities and injuries through the Vision Zero initiative. De Blasio also reiterated his support for the Crash Rights and Safety Act, a state bill designed to reduce traffic deaths.
“We’re going to apply Vision Zero right here, right now on McGuinness Boulevard, because it’s long overdue,” de Blasio continued. “We are putting money in the budget immediately to redesign and fix McGuinness Boulevard once and for all.”
The five-lane roadway is notoriously dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists, and has been the site of at least 411 injuries and three deaths within the past decade. In 2014, McGuinness Boulevard was designated as a “slow zone” with a 25 mph speed limit and delayed traffic signals, yet accidents have continued at a steady rate.
“Every single one of us knows that it could be any one of us killed there,” Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher said. “If we don’t do something, something meaningful, there will be many more who will die on the McGuinness Boulevard.”
“Over the past few days, I’ve received more than 300 emails from our neighbors in support of redesigning McGuinness Boulevard, a notoriously unsafe road,” added State Senator Julia Salazar. “Implementing a plan to transform McGuinness is how we can honor Matthew Jensen’s memory.”