Jivanna Bennaeim continues push for safer streets, calls for action in Great Neck

Oren Bennaeim, as seen with his son Tristan. (Photo courtesy of Jivanna Bennaeim)

Just over a year ago, Jivanna Bennaeim wrote a letter calling upon the driver who struck and ultimately killed her husband Oren on Middle Neck Road in September 2016.

Detectives have not been able to find the driver yet.

But in that time, Jivanna Bennaeim has been pushing hard to find ways to improve road safety and get people to slow down through the Great Neck peninsula to try preventing another tragedy.

“It’s just upsetting,” Bennaeim said in an interview. “This is our town and we live here and our children live here and some people’s parents live here, and it just seems like something that can be changed.”

In a recent letter to the Great Neck News, Bennaeim noted that in the time since her husband was killed, at least four people have been seriously injured trying to cross Middle Neck Road at various points, including a 22-year-old woman.

“That’s just people that I know of – that people have told me about. There could be more,” Bennaeim said in an interview. “One was somebody we know’s mother.”

A cyclist was also killed in a 2014 accident at the intersection of Old Mill Road and Middle Neck Road by a speeding driver.

Bennaeim’s efforts have taken the form of letters favoring red light cameras, speaking about her experience for the Long Island Complete Streets Coalition and arranging to speak with officials like County Executive Laura Curran, Bennaiem said.

“I’m waiting to hear back and see what it would take to have Nassau County have Vision Zero here,” Bennaiem said, referencing an initiative in New York City that aims to eliminate pedestrian deaths.

Among the strategies from the initiative she believes can be implemented in Great Neck are increased enforcement from police, installing speed cameras and red light cameras, and embarking on a major education campaign to try and change behavior.

Bennaeim said that Vision Long Island, a group aiming to promote smart growth and pedestrian safety she is now working with, recently came down to the spot where Oren had been killed. Since then they made suggestions with engineers, she said, on possible street changes.

“One of the things that they’re looking at are ways to slow down traffic,” Bennaeim.

In addition to Vision Long Island, Bennaeim said, she is working with Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender to write a grant.

But she was told it could take more than seven years to implement, she said, which partially prompted her to write her latest letter as a “call to action.”

“The hope is that we come together as a community to do something,” Bennaeim said. “I don’t know what that will be yet, but that is my hope.”


About the author

Janelle Clausen

Janelle Clausen is a reporter with Blank Slate Media covering the Great Neck peninsula and Town of North Hempstead. She previously freelanced for the Amityville Record, Massapequa Post and the Babylon Beacon. When not reporting, the south shore native can...
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