Streams

De Blasio Campaign Goal for Traffic Safety: Zero Deaths

The Vision Zero stance is exactly what safety advocates have been calling for

Thursday, August 08, 2013 - 04:00 PM

WNYC

NYC mayoral candidate Bill De Blasio has released the most ambitious transportation safety targets of any candidate: zero deaths in car crashes. 

This stance, pioneered by Sweden, is known as "vision zero" among safety advocates, a demographic delighted by the policy stances in the three-page policy brief issued by the De Blasio campaign this week. 

While it might seem far-fetched to imagine zero deaths or serious injuries in car crashes -- even as pedestrian deaths are increasing nationwide -- but advocacy groups like Transportation Alternatives have long said setting such a target is an important step in changing the perceptions about traffic crashes, shifting public understanding of them from 'accidents' to crashes caused by humans, and thus avoidable. 

Last year, 274 people were killed in crashes in NYC (see chart).

Rival candidates have also proposed increasing traffic safety targets, but not so radically. City Council speaker Christine Quinn has said she'd target reducing fatalities in half. Anthony Weiner included several transportation safety mentions in his most recent policy proposals.

But none endorsed the safety ideal of vision zero until Bill De Blasio.

There is no level of death or injury that New Yorkers should accept on our public streets. The City must take decisive and sustained action to reduce street fatalities each year until we have achieved “Vision Zero” – a city with zero fatalities or serious injuries caused by car crashes on the streets of New York.

To achieve this, De Blasio proposes a mix of design, regulation and enforcement policies, pretty much what safety advocates like Transportation Alternatives and writers at Streetsblog have been proposing for years. In fact, the plan cites TA and Streetsblog seven times in three pages. 

At the top of his list is design.

"If a road feels like a highway, people in cars will drive fast, no matter the speed limit. The City’s Department of Transportation has made progress reducing fatalities on our roadways by redesigning some of the city’s most dangerous intersections — but much more work remains to be done." 

Like redesign 50 dangerous intersections every year.

Then there's regulation.

Because speeding is the top cause of traffic deaths, De Blasio offers a few tools to slow down cars. He calls for the quadrupling of Slow Zones—communities with special lower speed limits of 20 m.p.h.—to 52 within four years. Pedestrians hit at 20 m.p.h. have just a five percent chance of dying, while pedestrians hit at 30 m.p.h have a 45 percent chance of death. He also wants the police to "track and prioritize" speeding enforcement and the other most dangerous violations above things like tinted windows, seat belt use, and cell phone use behind the wheel. While dangerous nationally, those offenses are not the top causes of pedestrian deaths in NYC. 

His final proposal to achieve the ambitious target of zero traffic deaths is cameras. Like just about every NYC politician, De Blasio wants local control over speed cameras. As we've reported before, the power to install speed cameras at intersections rests in the state legislature, which has been less enthusiastic about their use than NYC elected-officials. 

California implemented a vision zero approach in 2005 and within four years had reduced traffic fatalities by 29 percent (PDF). Twelve years after Sweden initiated vision zero in the late 90s, fatalities were down more than 50 percent

Tags:

Comments [4]

Nick from NYC

Will Bratton and de Blasio hold accountable those NYPD officers that run over pedestrians:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/207870159/STATEMENTDeBlasiosVisionZeroandTransitionTeamHypocrisy

Feb. 18 2014 09:46 PM
SACKETT from NEW YORK ITY

ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THAT I HAVE OBSERVED IN TRAFFIC ,THAT IS DANGEROUS, ARE VEHICLES
TURNING INTO THE PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY WHILE THE WALK SIGN IS GREEN.

COULD THERE BE INSTALLED ON THE MAIN ROBOT, A RED OR GREEN SIGNAL, THAT WOULD PERMIT
CARS TO TURN INTO THE WALKWAY WITH A GREEN LIGHT AND NOT, WHEN RED.
THIS WOULD ENABLE THE PEDESTRIANS TO CROSS SAFELY.
OF COURSE THIS DOES NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT PEDESTRIANS JAY WORKING WITH THE RISK
OF BEING HIT BY A VEHICLE, THAT IS TURNING LEGALLY WITH THE GREEN LIGHT.

WHEN THE CITY HAD THE 'TRAFFIC POLICE', I ASSUME THERE WAS MORE CONTROL OVER BEHAVIOR
OF TRAFFIC AND PEDESTRIANS.

Jan. 23 2014 03:55 PM

The only way to prevent traffic deaths is to outlaw vehicles. The position of Mr. DeeBee is absolutely moronic for anyone outside the area of Manhattan extending from 125th street to the Battery. It is a soundbite appealing to the pipedreams of the wealthy with too much time on their hands and too much of a sense of entitlement to determine other people's lives and deaths!

A reduction in fatalities: good. A push for better mass transportation to reduce car traffic: costly but good. A demagogic pretention that government can defy the people's will: costly, dangerous and very, very bad.

Sep. 20 2013 09:23 AM
Matthias from New York, NY

It's encouraging to see a mayoral candidate talking about a subject that has been conspicuously absent. I hope it will change the conversation about traffic deaths to something preventable, not just a part of life, and something that City Hall should focus on. A few months ago everyone was talking about whether the string of freak accidents in the subway could be prevented, but not about people dying on the streets day after day after day...

Aug. 09 2013 02:53 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.

Sponsored