What City Do Christine Quinn and James Vacca Represent?

In February, no fewer than nine people were killed by drivers while walking in NYC, according to data compiled by Streetsblog. The victims included five seniors and a 6-year-old child. Two victims were on the sidewalk when they were killed. Another was struck by an NYPD officer in a crash that police refuse to explain to the victim’s family.

A crash in Brooklyn killed a young couple and their newborn baby. The hit-and-run suspect eventually turned himself in, but because of state laws that reward drivers involved in serious crashes for leaving the scene, justice is far from assured.

According to NYPD, with 20 fatalities, January was the deadliest month for city pedestrians and cyclists in at least 13 months. Three seniors and two children were killed by motorists. In relative terms the 1,297 pedestrians and cyclists who were injured in January did not constitute a particularly high number.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not said a word about any of these deaths or injuries. Nor has James Vacca, who chairs the council transportation committee. Quinn and Vacca did, however, issue a joint statement Wednesday, following this week’s transportation committee meeting. Here it is:

In November, the Department of Transportation proposed increases that tripled the rate paid by permit holders at municipal parking garages and fields. This is an unconscionable increase on working people, which we already stopped once this year. As we’ve already made clear when we agreed to allow DOT to raise rates by no more than 20 percent, we are not prepared to re-visit the question of increases again in the 2014 budget. DOT should withdraw this proposal in the Executive Budget and find other sources of savings rather than raising revenue on the backs of hard-working commuters.

It has been 13 months since the council held a hearing on pedestrian and cyclist safety and the failure of NYPD to properly investigate traffic crashes. Since then, some 17,000 pedestrians and cyclists have been injured by drivers, and approximately 174 have died in traffic. About 1 percent of those crashes were investigated by police.

Their unwillingness to address NYPD crash investigation reforms notwithstanding, how could Quinn and Vacca choose to focus on such a trifling non-issue in light of the horrible headlines of the past week?

  • Anonymous

    The strange New York City politician myth that “drivers are poor” rears its head again.

  • Could not agree more Brad. Thanks for reminding us that we elected people to City Council to do something about this . . . and that nothing’s getting done.

    FYI, someone told me that crash investigation bills we’ve been waiting for a hearing on were finally set for a hearing on April 29.  Mark your calendars!

  • @BBnet3000:disqus They are a minority… In the same way that country club members are a minority. 

  • Guest

    “how could Quinn and Vacca choose to focus on such a trifling non-issue in light of the horrible headlines of the past week?”

    Because politics.

  • If you’ll forgive my theorizing on this subject, I’ve had a sense for a while that motorists have the unique embattled feeling of those who’ve had such big privileges for so long that they’ve forgotten they’re privileges and decided they’re rights. I wrote a while ago about how the mentality reminded me of Protestants I met when reporting from Northern Ireland who felt oppressed that Catholics now had a fair-ish shot at jobs: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/02/bikes-can-be-hard-to-overtake.html

    That outrage focuses, I think, on three areas: cyclists’ alleged ability to get away with breaking the rules, the allocation of road space and charges for motoring. Outrage over all those issues is based on mistaken assumptions. But it’s no coincidence, I think, that politicians and newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic focus on those areas and stoke some motorists’ feelings of outraged victimhood.

    There’s no sense within that mindset, I think, that cyclists and pedestrians can reasonably expect anything other than to be crushed under a motor vehicle’s wheels. It’s regarded as a little bit sad but somehow inevitable, I think.

  • If you’ll forgive my theorizing on this subject, I’ve had a sense for a while that motorists have the unique embattled feeling of those who’ve had such big privileges for so long that they’ve forgotten they’re privileges and decided they’re rights. I wrote a while ago about how the mentality reminded me of Protestants I met when reporting from Northern Ireland who felt oppressed that Catholics now had a fair-ish shot at jobs: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/02/bikes-can-be-hard-to-overtake.html

    That outrage focuses, I think, on three areas: cyclists’ alleged ability to get away with breaking the rules, the allocation of road space and charges for motoring. Outrage over all those issues is based on mistaken assumptions. But it’s no coincidence, I think, that politicians and newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic focus on those areas and stoke some motorists’ feelings of outraged victimhood.

    There’s no sense within that mindset, I think, that cyclists and pedestrians can reasonably expect anything other than to be crushed under a motor vehicle’s wheels. It’s regarded as a little bit sad but somehow inevitable, I think.

  • Meanwhile, does anyone have up to date statistics on New York City’s murder rate so far this year? I can’t help suspecting that the road death rate and murder rate might actually have crossed.

  • Meanwhile, does anyone have up to date statistics on New York City’s murder rate so far this year? I can’t help suspecting that the road death rate and murder rate might actually have crossed.

  • Anonymous

    If DOT lacks the funds to maintain municipal garages and fields, and cannot raise the income to eliminate the gap, there is but one choice:  close those garages. 

  • Craigo45

    The live in and represent the suburbs.

  • Voter

    At least voters now know exactly what kinds of things Chris Quinn and James Vacca find “unconscionable.”

  • Don’t forget, that although 53%-59% of workers in Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens use transit to get to work – most of them own cars to buy groceries and travel locally around their neighborhoods. 

    Quinn and Vacca represent longtime residents of the outer boroughs who have made the city their multi-generational home sweet home.

     They aren’t going to carry bags from shoprite or stop and shop or pathmark home. 

    They aren’t going to carry bags from the locally owned supermarket home either (or at least not in the middle class areas of brooklyn or queens.)

    It is easy to judge others, who don’t have the money to live in areas where everything is a 200 foot walk away. (I mean, the Trader Joe’s on 72nd with all the other suburban staples in  that area!)

    Try going grocery shopping with a kid and a shopping cart in the bitter Janruary cold by only walking. My mother did that when I was a kid and she hated it. She voted with her feet when one of the local grocery stores started to deliver phone orders at no extra cost.

  • Sean Kelliher

    The answer to your question is a simple one: dead people can’t vote; those looking for parking still can.

  • Andrew

    In fact, most households in Brooklyn and the Bronx don’t have cars.

    A lot of city residents have made the decision to own cars, but a lot of city residents have made the decision not to own cars. Somehow, they all manage to get the groceries they need – if not in their own cars, then perhaps they carry them or they take them on the bus or by bike, or maybe they have their groceries delivered. An occasional taxi or car service ride is still much, much cheaper than maintaining your own personal car.

    So it should come as no surprise that, in every geographic area, the segment of the population that owns cars is wealthier than the segment that does not.

    Quinn and Vacca are pandering to the privileged car-owning minority. After all, they are part of the privileged car-owning minority; they are pandering to the people who they most closely relate to. But in doing so, they are demonstrating their obliviousness to serious issues of great relevance to the rest of us.

    They, and the politicians like them, will not get my vote in November. I will be looking for the candidate who is prepared to seriously address the transit funding crisis and the epidemic of traffic violence that Ray Kelly’s NYPD has been blithely ignoring. Which candidate is ready to step up to the plate? I’m ready to give you my vote.

  • Michael Klatsky

    There are 452,775 vehicle registrations in Kings County in 2012.

    There are 907,785 households in Kings County in 2011.

    That is roughly half, not most.

  • Michael Klatsky

    There are 251,398 vehicle registrations in Bronx County.

    There are 471,923 households in the Bronx, where the majority of household actually do own cars.

    Source: ACS, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/36005.html

    NYSDMV, http://www.dmv.ny.gov/stats.htm

  • Michael Klatsky

    Look up the data first, and get out of your bubble.

    -Brooklynite, proudly born in Methodist Hospital in Park Slope

  • Anonymous

    The conclusion that “most households have cars” based on a comparison between the number of vehicle registrations and the number of households requires two implied assumptions: 1) no household has more than one vehicle; 2) all vehicles are associated with a household. Both assumptions are wrong. How wrong? I don’t know. You need better data.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “They, and the politicians like them, will not get my vote in November. I will be looking for the candidate…”
    I remember the cries on Streetsblog with regard to the state legislature:  “would somebody primary this guy?”  Well, did anyone?

    The candidates will change their tune once they get passed the primary and are facing an Election Day election, when everyone shows up.  But by then one or, perhaps, two viable candidates will have already been chosen by the political/union class, perhaps with donations from the executive/financial real estate class — the powerful minorities.

    The Mayoral and Gubenatorial elections is the closest thing to  real election we get.  And basically, no matter who the Mayor is and what they believe they end up dealing with a permanent caste that represents primarily itself.

  • Anonymous

    According to the most recent data (using the set marked “new”):
    https://sites.google.com/site/nymasterpistoldb/
    There are only 297 people in Brooklyn with pistol permits. Therefore, there are only 297 pistols in Brooklyn. SO THERE’S NO GUN PROBLEM, PEOPLE.
    –dporpentine, born somewhere therefore an authority on it in all its details and complexity

  • Michael Klatsky

    Lol, so if you count all the playas with cars that have nj, pa, fl and sc plates, there probably even more cars on the streets.

  • Michael Klatsky

    And yes, I am an expert I have been studying this for years, from my first intro classes applied urban analyses at SUNY Binghamton – where btw, the actual New Yorkers go to college.

  • Michael Klatsky

    QRT, less than 10% of registered vehicles are not regular cars – and yes, there is no way to account for multiple car households.

    Judging by the inability to find street parking in all neighborhoods, rich and poor, it’s a safe bet that there are plenty of cars in “random poor area”.

    It is also my understanding that wealthier people have jobs in midtown. (The train riders). While poorer people have to walk to a bus and then walk some more, until they can afford a car to get to their job in another outer borough neighborhood.

    In Kings County, 67% of workers, committed to other locations within Kings County, not Manhattan.

  • Ian Turner

    According to the census, household vehicle access is as follows (2007-2011 average):
    Bronx – 41%
    Brooklyn – 43%
    Manhattan – 22%
    Queens – 63%
    Staten Island – 84%

    Source:
    http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/11_5YR/B08201/0500000US36005|0500000US36047|0500000US36061|0500000US36081|0500000US36085

    Definition: “These data show the number of passenger cars, vans, and pickup or panel trucks of one-ton capacity or less kept at home and available for the use of household members.  Vehicles rented or leased for one month or more, company vehicles, and police and government vehicles are included if kept at home and used for non-business purposes.  Dismantled or immobile vehicles are excluded.  Vehicles kept at home but used only for business purposes also are excluded.”

    Sorry @ce1cd9bb743163039f6b76a0e089289a:disqus, you’re just wrong. You should accept that and use this information to reevaluate your assumptions.

  • Michael Klatsky

    So, you are going to compare the statistical sample of the ACS , which hopes for a truthful answer on a survey form sent to 1/17th of the population each year with an actual hard count of vehicle registrations recorded by the NYSDMV?

    I trust the DMV, thank you very much.

  • Pwad

    Mr. Klataky;

    Are your opinions yours or those of your employer, city consultant RBA Group?

    Do you think it’s appropriate for you to declare yourself an expert when the ink on your BA is not even 3 years old?

    Which of your classes or employers taught you how to determine car owning households by looking at anything other than the census?

    Do you believe the NYCEDC is lying when they say only 46% of Bronx residents own a car?

  • Anonymous

    @ce1cd9bb743163039f6b76a0e089289a:disqus Au contraire, borough breakdowns of car-owning vs. non-car-owning households may be found here. Car-free HH’s are 54% majority in Brooklyn, 60% in Bronx, 77% in Manhattan.

    Michael, if I may, for a self-described “expert” who’s “been studying this for years,” you kind of bailed out with your excuse that “there’s no way to account for multiple car households.” Sorry, the Census is (still, miraculously?) full of useful data. Indeed, the same data source allows similar breakdowns by Council and other electoral districts. People post those on this list all the time to demonstrate the persistence and pervasiveness of electeds’ (and media’s) windshield perspective.

  • Michael Klatsky

    These are solely my own personal opinions, not my employer. You should know that.

  • Michael Klatsky

    Using ADS data, there are 192,477 cars in the Bronx (yes, 40.8%).

    Using a combination of data, taking the total number of households from the ACS 471,923 & combining that with the total number of personal standard car registrations (not motorcycle, bus, taxi, truck or commercial), there are 227,140. (48%)

    If you were to include commercial vehicles , it would be 252,398 (53%)

  • Komanoff, I was saying that because he is a troll who always thinks he is right.

    But while the ACS (a statistical sampling of the population) can and does account for the variations – the NYSDMV, which has a hard number of vehicle registrations in force, does not.

    I always prefer to use a hard number whenever I can, unless it is for FHWA federal funding grants (they seem to prefer the census data)

    Anyways, the longtime political insiders, union groups and religious groups that will vote as a bloc all drive. If you don’t drive at all, they aren’t pandering to you (since, in their view..you’ve already made up your mind)

  • Either way, I don’t disagree that Christine Quinn is a SUV driving blowhard that loves cruising around the “Main Drag” of the 1950’s nostalgia.

  • I am meeting Joe Lhota on Sunday at a meet and greet event, where I will ask him where he stands on “strong streets” for our neighborhoods and the ROI of suburban-type NYCEDC investments like parking garages and bix boxes.

  • Guest

    The use of “actual New Yorkers” to qualify an argument immediately disqualifies said argument.

  • Maybe its time for Streetsblog to simply proffer advice to drivers involved in crashes.  Perhaps a decision-tree flyer titled: What to do if you are involved in a crash in NYC?

    Here’s the layout:

    Are you drunk or intoxicated? Yes/No

    If Yes, leave the scene immediately, and don’t present yourself to the police until you have sobered up.

    If No, stay on scene, you will not be charged with a crime.

    Is someone injured or dead?  Yes/No

    If Yes, and you are not intoxicated, stay on scene, you won’t be charged with a crime.

    If No, you can probably just leave, the NYPD won’t respond or investigate unless someone is injured or killed.

    FAQ:
    What if I am intoxicated on legally prescribed medications, and probably shouldn’t be driving?

    A: You should stay on scene, so long as the prescription was for you, the NYPD and DA’s office won’t consider your misstep as criminal activity, rather it will be “just another tragic accident”, but you may pay a civil fine.

    What if I have a diagnosed medical condition which presents a clear and present danger to others when I am driving?

    A:  You should stay on scene, the NYPD and DA’s office don’t consider driving with a serious medical condition a criminally negligent activity, even if it results in the death of an innocent bystander.

  • Will,

    Sadly you are right, there will be no criminal penalty. Their auto insurance is sure to go up though.

  • Andrew

    I’m not sure who you’re calling a troll, but there’s only one person who’s been acting like a troll on this article.

  • Anonymous

    That is still probably not true. Many if the car owning households are probably multi-car owning households. So the number of vehicle registrations is almost certainly greater than the number of households that have registered cars. Of course, there is an uncertainty the other way also (cars registered in other districts) but I bet that uncertainty is lower than the multi-car household one.

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