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Vision Zero Reforms Poised to Pass NYC Council

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - 12:17 PM

NYC pedestrians on 125th Street (Kate Hinds/WNYC)

New York's City Council is on track to pass a suite of measures aimed at supporting Mayor Bill de Blasio's goal of eliminating traffic deaths from city streets.

Eleven of the measures up for consideration Thursday are pieces of legislation. One would establish new city slow zones with lower speed limits. Another aims to strengthen penalties for motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians or cyclists. And another would yank the Taxi and Limousine Commission licenses from cab drivers who cause critical injury or death.

That last bill, called "Cooper's Law," is named for nine-year old Cooper Stock, who died on the Upper West Side in January after being struck by a taxi driver who was cited for failing to yield in a crosswalk. New York City Council member Helen Rosenthal, who represents the neighborhood, sponsored the bill. "I think that will go a long way to assure the riders in New York City that the drivers who have spotty records will be taken off the road," she said.

(The city's taxi authority has said it decided not to renew the license of the driver who struck Stock. He was ticketed and received three points on his license.)

Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement that "the measures under consideration today rightly focus on holding drivers accountable for dangerous decisions."

But while New York City has some legal control over its streets, other reforms require approval from Albany, such as giving the city authority over its own speed and red light camera programs.

All seventeen measures are expected to pass City Council.

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Comments [9]

AMHess from Harlem

This is at least a step in the right direction, but streets need to be redesigned to be more pleasant and safer places for the public rather than speedways for motor traffic.

The intersection in the photo has improved already just with the addition of bus lanes on 125th Street! Drivers are no longer weaving between lanes and speeding around turning or double-parked vehicles.

Taxi drivers are not the main problem; they are statistically much safer than the general population. Cameras and traffic calming designs will go a long way toward making our streets safer.

Jun. 02 2014 08:36 AM
Chang from Manhattan

Brett A, I wish you read this for your peace and confidence out of your apartment. Stay on side walk but with some awareness on road. When you cross, don't be intimidated by moving cars. They will come to stop and stand still 0mph for 30 seconds when traffic lights above (in case you did'nt pay attention) will turn red and you have walk sign. Put down phone and pay attention all around especially turning cars in which driver may not see you behind beam between windshield and side window. Expect bikers from a unpredictable direction zooming in front of you without courtesy of bell. If you are not confident of crossing street, get a service dog for the blind or even better to attend yourself with a dog, a dog training school. It could be fun for you!

May. 30 2014 11:44 PM
Chang from Manhattan

Tal, I'm with you 200%. We need some organization like AAA(American Automobile Association) to intervene to save NYC. From previous mayor to now new one over 10 years, same old same old. Only one perspective from non-drivers to cars. Very unAmerican peculiar perspective never coming out of box but expecting a different result, what did one say about this, "doing the same thing over and over but ...." No check and balance. But it seems that city is not even aware of missing perspectives.

Letting pedestrians stand on the road, even opening umbrellas in the middle of busy square like 5Ave and 23-25 St next to Madison Park causing bottle neck to traffic but munching on something like cows giving blank eyes to traffic like cows all ignorant like cows breathing polluted air. Giving bikers right of way (always some psychological issue here) to pass in front of turning cars, which is not safe popping from blind spot while the other bikers ride in wrong direction.

It puzzles me why so much of right of way endangering themselves IN FRONT OF rolling cars even trucks? Are they starved with rights and ignored for something else?

Please Walk like me: Walk parallel and signal moving cars go ahead of you and WALK BEHIND. VOILA VISION ZERO!
Please ride bike in a way not competing with cars and slowing them down. First you can't compete with cars with 200 HP. Personally I feel pathetic to whom peddling hard next to me when even delivery guys have electric bikes or scooters. Not healthy or safe next to diesel burning tourist bus and trucks. Secondly yielding and letting cars go ahead of you is safer practice. Don't pass in front of turning cars. You are popping from blind spot. Whenever possible, yield to cars and ride behind and between but well ahead for visibility. Move taking advantage of cars disadvantage like 0mph for 30sec. At red light or one way, slow down and yield to all and move slowly with caution illegally until get ticketed. Please don't say bike is green with zero emission unless you gave up non-hybrid cars.

May. 30 2014 10:59 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

I can see already the anti-car crowd is ganging up on me, and is using excuses rather than reasons to make their claims. Even if all motorists follow the rules, which most them already do, you will still have cyclists and pedestrians getting hit mainly because they are not following the rules. If you really want safe streets, then everyone must follow the rules, not just one group only, but you guys only want it according to Animal Farms where only certain animals were exempt compared to the rest that were subject to them. BTW, the recent ticket blitz on cyclists especially in the UWS according to the Daily News does show that rogue cyclists are serious issue. One other thing, when I mentioned about cyclists and pedestrians that don't follow the rules and should be taken care of as well at a Vision Zero hearing, I was highly applauded for saying that.

May. 29 2014 03:22 PM
Tyson White from UWS

Tal from Peasantville: Um, aren't pedestrians and cyclists already being punished with death and serious injury?

Have you seen any pedestrians or cyclists run over and kill a driver? Pin the driver's legs to another car resulting in amputations?

May. 29 2014 12:57 PM
A.S. from Brooklyn

These are all great steps in the right direction. After this I hope the city council can get Albany to give the city control over speed limits, cameras and eventually congestion pricing too.

May. 29 2014 11:59 AM
CycleCynic from Here, as always

More "feel good" legislation from the Zero Vision crowd. Of course, in the end, New York City's streets will remain fast-paced and chaotic, as they've been since the streetcars and carriage days. You're gonna change that? Fahgeddaboudit!

So, in the end, more tickets will be written, putting money in the city's coffers, and the progressive pols will pat themselves on the back, claiming they've accomplished something, come election time.

Would be a lot easier if these foul-crying transplants would just pick up a little street smarts.

May. 29 2014 10:26 AM
Brett A from NYC

@Tal Barilai

"One would establish new city slow zones with lower speed limits. Another aims to strengthen penalties for motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians or cyclists. And another would yank the Taxi and Limousine Commission licenses from cab drivers who cause critical injury or death."

Kudos to the pedestrian that can speed walk at 20mph, and the bike drivers that can keep up that kind of pace with the craziness of the vehicles on the road.
I don't hear many stories of bicyclists plowing through intersections killing pedestrians, nor do I hear about people milling about crushing cars under their feet.

This Vision Zero thing is meant to protect drivers from themselves, and everyone not on a motorized vehicle safe.

Motorized vehicles are causing the vast majority of injury and death, not the other way around.

May. 28 2014 11:23 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

I will support Vision Zero if it's amended to extend punishment to cyclists and pedestrians that flout the law as well, because then the streets will really be safe.

May. 28 2014 09:11 PM

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