It’s No Accident: Bike-Ped Safety Bill Clears Council

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Though it was buried by another story, the City Council made news this week by passing legislation that will require identification and inspections of dangerous locations for pedestrians and cyclists, and action to correct hazardous conditions.

The bill, carried on the strength of an unanimous vote, mandates the city Department of Transportation to annually identify the 20 most dangerous locations for pedestrians and cyclists, based on the number of crashes; analyze the sites for hazards; make recommendations for safety improvements at these locations, then implement them; and report its findings and actions to the City Council, the mayor and appropriate community boards.

"Currently, crash data demonstrates that over 50% of all pedestrian-related crashes occur at just 10% of all intersections," said Transportation Alternatives’ Executive Director Paul Steely White. "Pedestrian crashes are not random occurrences and in using the term ‘crash’ instead of ‘accident,’ the bill further heralds a significant shift towards accountability and systematic prevention of traffic injuries and fatalities."

The full text of the bill appears after the jump.

Proposed Int. No. 567-A

By Council Members Gentile, Liu, Addabbo Jr., Brewer, Comrie, James, Koppell, Martinez, Nelson, Sanders Jr., Stewart, Weprin and Jackson.

A LOCAL LAW

To amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to pedestrian safety

Be it enacted by the Council as follows:

Section 1. Title 19 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 19-180 to read as follows:

§19-180 Safety audits of crash locations involving pedestrians a. Within one hundred and eighty days of receiving access to New York state department of motor vehicles traffic crash data involving pedestrian injuries or fatalities for the previous calendar year, the department shall:

1. Identify the twenty highest crash locations based upon a ranking of the total number of crashes involving pedestrians and selected proportionally by borough based upon the percentage of total crashes involving pedestrians in such borough; and

2. Inspect and conduct audits at such locations and, where warranted, make improvements or incorporate improvements into capital projects.

b. Within thirty days of completing the inspections and audits required under paragraph 2 of subdivision a of this section, the department shall send a report noting such inspection and audit and summarizing its recommendations and steps to be taken, including a schedule to implement such recommendations, to the council member and community board in whose district the crash location is located.

c. If any crash location appears on the department’s annual list of twenty highest crash locations involving pedestrians in two consecutive years, such location shall be removed from the annual list and replaced by the location with the next highest number of crashes involving pedestrians located within the same borough as the consecutively appearing location; provided that the department shall continue to monitor such crash data and/or make safety improvements at such removed location until such removed location is no longer one of the highest crash locations.

§ 2. Title 19 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 19-181 to read as follows:

§19-181 Safety inspections at locations exhibiting a pattern of crashes involving pedestrians and/or bicyclists. a. Within ninety days of receiving access to New York state department of motor vehicles traffic crash data involving pedestrians and/or bicyclists, the department shall inspect every location with five or more injuries or fatalities involving pedestrians and/or bicyclists during the prior twelve month period.

b. Within ninety days of notice of a traffic crash involving a fatality, the department shall conduct an inspection of the traffic crash location.

c. The department shall act upon any inspection recommendations, if warranted.

d. The department shall make the results of the inspections required under subdivisions a and b or any actions required by subdivision c of this section available upon request to the public.

§3. Title 19 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 19-182 to read as follows:

§19-182 Comprehensive study of pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries. a. The department shall conduct a comprehensive study of all traffic crashes involving a pedestrian fatality or serious injury for the most recent five years where traffic crash data is available. In such study, the department shall analyze the conditions and factors associated with each such traffic crash and identify common factors among the crashes, if any. The department shall use such study to develop strategies to improve pedestrian safety, which may include modifying citywide traffic operations policy, developing pedestrian safety strategies geared towards specific users, prioritizing locations and/or types of roadways or intersections for safety improvements and making recommendations for improving safety at such locations.

b. The comprehensive traffic study required under subdivision a of this section shall be submitted to the mayor and council by the thirtieth day of august, two thousand and nine. The plans, including a schedule for implementing strategies for improving pedestrian safety generated by such study, shall be submitted to the mayor and council by the thirtieth day of november, two thousand and nine.

§4. This local law shall take effect thirty days after it is enacted into law, except for the provisions of section 2, which shall take effect on January 1, 2009.

Photo: brothergrimm/Flickr

  • Great news.

  • lang

    here’s what’s going on with nyc transportation – http://intothebox.tv/archive/70_A_Taxi_Tip__Good_cabbie_or_lost_cabbie?

  • Rmartin

    Haven’t they already been doing this for years?

  • Komanoff

    I think the bill’s emphasis on crash locations is misplaced. It would have been better to focus on crash “types” — vehicle turned into pedestrian, vehicle aggressively passed cyclist, etc. — as we did in KILLED BY AUTOMOBILE and THE ONLY GOOD CYCLIST (both available at http://www.rightofway.org, or by Googling those titles). The latter approach is far more amenable to amelioration, by enforcement, education, etc. It also puts the onus, appropriately, on driving and drivers.

  • john deere

    Agreed with Charlie. The location emphasis seems to focus solely on design, and would seem to omit important behavior/choice issues that are probably even more important than design in determining the cause & prevention of crashes. The best designs in the world will be of limited value at reducing pedestrian & cyclist fatalities if street users lack a basic understanding of how traffic works, what the ‘rules of the road ‘ are, and how to behave courteously and safely in traffic.

    I should add that FWHA research into bike crashes also uses crash types, and these can be found by googling “Crash Type Manual” or “Carol Tan Crash Type Manual”.

  • Mark

    I disagree — this new law takes aim squarely at the city’s most unliveable streets.

    Better design of dangerous intersections would be of enormous value, whether drivers are subjected to heightened education or not. Reducing lanes, enforcing speed limits, adding medians as islands of safety, adding bollards to prevent curb-jumping, and timing traffic signals to give peds more time to cross would greatly increase safety for people on foot. Of course, whether any of that’ll happen as a result of this new law is uncertain. But keeping official track of “accidents” is an absolutely essential first step to taking other measures. I think the city council and the people who shepherded this law through it deserve enormous credit. This is a really good thing.

    Now, of course, the next step is to translate the information into tangible street redesign.

  • brooke

    this is great news.

  • Dave H.

    In similar news, in Connecticut the General Assembly transportation committee just sent a bill to the Senate floor with a favorable recommendation (30 for, 1 against, 3 absent).

    AN ACT CONCERNING BICYCLE ACCESS AND SAFETY.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

    Section 1. Section 14-232 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2008):

    (a) Except as provided in sections 14-233 and 14-234, (1) the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the highway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle; and (2) the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle. For the purposes of this subsection, “safe distance” means not less than three feet when the driver of a vehicle overtakes and passes a person riding a bicycle.

    (b) No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the highway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless the left side is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction or any vehicle overtaken.

    (c) Violation of any provision of this section shall be an infraction.

    Sec. 2. Subsection (a) of section 13b-79p of the general statutes is amended by adding subdivision (22) as follows (Effective October 1, 2008):

    (NEW) (22) Improving bicycle and pedestrian access throughout the state transportation system.

    Sec. 3. Section 13a-57b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2008):

    The Commissioner of Transportation shall [, whenever possible, encourage the inclusion of] include areas for bicycles and pedestrians when (1) creating a layout of a state highway, in accordance with section 13a-57, or (2) relocating a state highway, in accordance with section 13a-56.

    Sec. 4. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2008) The Commissioner of Transportation shall, in consultation with groups advocating on behalf of bicyclists, develop and implement a state-wide “Share the Road” public awareness campaign to educate the public concerning the rights and responsibilities of both motorists and bicyclists as they jointly use the highways of this state.

  • Dave H.

    For a version that makes the changes more apparent:

    http://www.cga.ct.gov/2008/TOB/S/2008SB-00299-R00-SB.htm

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