NYC's Mayor Unveils "Vision Zero" Plans

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 06:14 PM

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, flanked by DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg (L) and NYPD head William Bratton (R) (Kate Hinds/WNYC)

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio presented a blueprint comprised of what he called "tried and tested" ideas designed to dramatically reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities. 

"We have to act," de Blasio said. "We have to act aggressively, and we won’t wait to act."

The "Vision Zero" plan's 63 recommendations can be roughly broken down into three categories: enforcement, education, and engineering.

Key components include lowering the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour, aggressively enforcing moving violations, re-engineering streets to calm traffic, and teaching both students and drivers alike the rules of the road.

"This entire plan involves a number of physical and material measures," said the mayor, "but it’s about much more than speed bumps and the issuing of violations. It’s also about all of us taking greater responsibility every time we get behind the wheel, and every time we step out on the street. Our lives are literally in each other’s hands. Our children’s lives are in each other’s hands."

During the press conference Polly Trottenberg, the city's current transportation commissioner, seemingly gave a nod to her predecessor, Janette Sadik-Khan. "Over the past few years," said Trottenberg, "our street design safety projects throughout the five boroughs have been able to reduce fatalities at specific streets and intersections anywhere from 20 to 88 percent."

Some of those initiatives, like speed bumps, installing new crosswalks, and adding pedestrian islands, can be implemented immediately. But others—like lowering the speed limit and installing more red light and traffic cameras—require Albany's approval.

While de Blasio said he believed the state legislature would be receptive, Albany's support is no sure thing.

Advocates hailed the mayor's announcement. "I'm extraordinarily impressed," said Paul Steely White, who heads Transportation Alternatives. "There seems to be a very concrete focus on action. It's really focusing on what has worked in the past right here in New York City and expanding those practices citywide."

Mary Beth Kelly, whose husband was killed in 2006 in a traffic crash, said she was heartened by the plan. "I can't tell you, after seven and a half years of doing this, how uplifted I feel," she said.  "We have a mayor who has moral courage."

But the Vision Zero rollout has not been without its bumps. NYPD commissioner William Bratton had, in an earlier press conference, said pedestrians were responsible for a large percentage of traffic fatalities. And last month, following three pedestrian deaths on the Upper West Side, local police issued a number of tickets for jaywalking.

Many found the emphasis on jaywalking confusing. By the city's own measure, "dangerous driver choices," like speeding and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, are responsible for 70 percent of all fatalities.

Kelly said she told Bratton "when you said you were going after jaywalkers," she said, "you broke my heart."

But by Tuesday's announcement, the de Blasio administration was distancing itself from that approach. "Anti-jaywalking measures are not part of the overall plan," said de Blasio, although he cautioned that precinct commanders have the right to make decisions they believe are appropriate.

Watch a video of Tuesday's announcement below.



Comments [6]

Bronx from NYC

Realist; and I say this as a lifelong New Yorker. Your an idiot.

Most people in this city don't even drive, so why wouldn't they be in favor of new policy greatly benefitting them?

Anyway, I welcome this new collaborative effort. It's time to change the culture of driving in city. As it stands, completely unacceptable.

Feb. 19 2014 09:51 PM
Realist from Here for Life

Geez, I watched all the televised mayoral debates, and don't recall ever hearing Bill de Blasio ever once utter the words 'vision zero'. It may have been buried somewhere in his 17 page campaign platform, but why wasn't this such an critical issue during the election?

Do ya think it's because if he ran on a platform of massive ticketing and criminalizing traffic accidents, he wouldn't have stood a chance of getting elected? Hmmmm... Bait and switch?

New York City's streets have always been famously chaotic and fast moving. If these 'safe streets' advocates didn't like that, why did they move here? I think I hear Portland calling, dude.

Feb. 19 2014 04:43 PM
Al Cinamon from Yonkers

Blah, blah, blah! If you want to reach vision zero, start holding drivers accountable for their irresponsibility. If they kill somebody with their car, issuing a ticket won't cut it. Charge them with a crime! Revoke their licenses! Put them in jail! That's the only way you will get these speed freaks attention. Believe it or not, getting a speeding ticket is a badge of honor to many. Getting a ticket for driving too slow would be humiliating. They need real punishment.

Feb. 19 2014 09:25 AM
David from nyc

I see no push back against the DMV, these are the people that put these people on the road.

Also the last mayor wanted NYC as a magnet city.
Well people that don't understand the rules of the road(both driving and walking) are part of the price of that.
What's next cock fighting...oh wait that was last week

Feb. 19 2014 07:14 AM
JMD from Yorkville

As a resident of Yorkville, a pedestrian, and a licensed driver participating in alternative- side-of-the-street- parking, I have the following observation and suggestions:
taxi and limo drivers drive unnecessarily/recklessly fast from York to East End Ave. with a RED LIGHT POSTED! They need to be ticketed!
The so-called "Traffic police" are useless, as they cannot issue moving violations for speeding or reckless driving; moreover, the NYPD could/should be focused on other issues.
North/south traffic on York, and First, as well as East/West along 79th do not yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk, thus the attraction to jaywalk!
Pedestrians, many of whom are not themselves drivers cross liesurely with no consideration (that's right...) for the driver waiting patiently for these people to simply walk across the street, AS IF THEIR LIFE DEPENEDED ON IT. Often with heads down texting or speaking on their cells.
More flash camera boxes need to be installed along York north of 79th St.
Responsibilty for eliminating deaths lie with ALL OF US!

Feb. 18 2014 10:02 PM
eleniNYC from Jackson Heights

Speaking as a near miss victim of B'way & 96th Str. on 2 at least occasions it was owing to an UNANNOUNCED DOT Ad. about the change in the traffic pattern --- thank you Jenaette Sadhik-Khan -- I believe the DOT owed it to the citizens to make it very clear well before the change was made that the traffic pattern was changinging over 2 yrs. ago. They found the time to unveil the Citibike share program they couldn't do it for a major change in the traffic pattern that is both heavily trafficked with BOTH pedestrians and motorists alike. This would have been very helpful for many of us who work on the UWS but don't LIVE there. More over, There have been many occasions when crossing with the light on the west side of 96th & B'way, especially at night, numerous pvt. cars, trucks and cabs ALL have blown red lights attempting to make the light at the bottom of Riverside Dr. enroute to the West Side Highway while nearly mowing down pedestrians, myself included, getting cursed & honked at while we crossed with the light. Obviously something needs to be done. It can start with NOT having the traffic go in 3-4 different directions and ALL seem to be aimed at mowing down pedestrians. perhaps the lights need to be timed differently so they aren't drag racing across 96th Str. beacuse that is what's happening.
OK Mayor DeBlasio please do something ---and fast!

Feb. 18 2014 08:14 PM

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