De Blasio Signs Traffic Safety Bills, Says 25 MPH Will Go Into Effect This Fall

Mayor de Blasio signs 11 traffic safety bills this morning at PS 152 in Queens, surrounded by families of traffic violence victims. Photo: Stephen Miller
Mayor de Blasio signed 11 traffic safety bills earlier today at PS 152 in Queens, surrounded by families of traffic violence victims. Photo: Stephen Miller

Earlier today, Mayor Bill de Blasio returned to the schoolyard where he launched his administration’s Vision Zero campaign in January, just feet from where 9-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed last December while walking to PS 152 with his sister. A little more than six months after announcing his intent to eliminate traffic fatalities within 10 years, the mayor signed bills that suspend the licenses of dangerous taxi drivers, require the installation of 20 mph Slow Zones, and make it a misdemeanor to strike a pedestrian or cyclist with the right of way, among other changes.

While today’s press conference struck a celebratory note, the mayor made clear that Vision Zero is a continuing effort. “The vision is to end traffic fatalities in this city. It’s not easy. Nobody said it was easy,” de Blasio said. “When you think about Vision Zero and all its components, fundamentally it comes down to reducing speeding, reducing reckless driving.”

“A special thanks to all the family members of all the individuals who have turned their pain into action and who have had a huge impact in this city and in this state,” he said. “[They] have been fantastic advocates, particularly in Albany.”

With Families for Safe Streets members in Albany last week, the State Senate and Assembly passed legislation to lower the default speed limit in New York City to 25 mph. De Blasio said that the new limit will likely go into effect this fall after Governor Cuomo signs the bill and the City Council passes its own speed limit legislation.

The package of bills that the mayor signed today focuses on TLC, DOT, and NYPD.

Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi said today that the 100,000 drivers licensed by TLC set the tone on New York City’s streets. “On the whole our drivers are safe, but there are a few bad apples and we need to remove them,” she said.

Cooper’s Law (Intro 171-A), named in memory of 9-year-old traffic violence victim Cooper Stock, gives TLC the authority to suspend the license of a taxi driver involved in a crash causing death or critical injury. If the driver is found guilty of a crime or traffic violation that contributed to the crash, the license must be revoked. A pair of bills mandate new disclosures from TLC: Under Intro 277-A, the commission must provide quarterly reports listing each crash involving a TLC-licensed vehicle, and Intro 174-A requires TLC to review all fatal and critical injury crashes and post enforcement actions that it has taken in each case on its website.

On Saturday, a 13 year-old girl was injured by an NYPD driver in a crosswalk on the Grand Concourse; police accounts differed significantly from eyewitness reports. Today, Gothamist reported that NYPD had withheld information from a judge about a pedestrian killed by an NYPD officer last year. I asked de Blasio if he wants agencies other than TLC to disclose more information about crashes involving their fleets. “We have a problem with a small subset of [TLC] drivers,” he said. “If we determine that there are other areas where we need to put out more information, then we’ll do that.”

Intro 238-A makes failing to yield to pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way a criminal misdemeanor, not just a traffic violation, punishable with fines and jail time. If the driver injures a pedestrian or cyclist with the right of way, penalties increase to a $250 fine and 30 days in jail.

The other bills signed today are:

  • Intro 43-A and Into 168-A, which require DOT to issue reports every five years on the safety of left turns and arterial streets, respectively;
  • Intro 140-A, requiring DOT to install seven 20 mph neighborhood Slow Zones and 50 school zones annually;
  • Intro 272-A, penalizing the most dangerous repeat-offender TLC-licensed drivers;
  • Intro 167-A, which prohibits stunts on motor bikes;
  • Intro 80-A, requiring DOT to review work zone safety procedures on bridges; and
  • Intro 46-A, mandating that DOT repair broken or missing traffic signals within 24 hours.

Council members said they hope the legislation starts to change the culture of New York City’s streets. A couple of council members revealed that they had been personally affected by traffic violence. Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez said his mother, now 84, spent two months in the hospital after a driver struck her five years ago. Fernando Cabrera of the Bronx said his aunt was injured by a driver. “I have never before seen someone go through so much agony and so much pain,” Cabrera said.

“Streets must be livable for all of us — for drivers, for pedestrians, for bicyclists. We must create an environment where all of us can be respected,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson, who chairs the public safety committee. “We must make sure that we equip our police department with the necessary resources so they can enforce these laws.”

The success of many of these laws depends on NYPD’s willingness to use them, and enforcement was a hot topic at the press event. While Marcia Kramer of WCBS and Juliet Papa of 1010 WINS focused exclusively on jaywalking and wrong-way cyclists, others asked how the city can enforce laws to deter dangerous driving.

Trottenberg told the City Hall press corps about the state’s severe restrictions on speed cameras. Albany only allows the cameras up to a quarter-mile away from schools on streets with a school entrance. She pointed to the blocks around PS 152, noting that state law allows a speed camera on the 62nd Street side, because the school’s front door is on that quiet side street. But the adjacent block on Northern Boulevard, one of the city’s deadliest arterial streets, is not allowed to have a speed cam.

While the taxi and transportation commissioners were at de Blasio’s side today, Police Commissioner William Bratton, who the Times noted last week has “grown quieter” on Vision Zero, sent Transportation Chief Thomas Chan to today’s press conference.

Chan said that NYPD has issued more dangerous driving summonses this year than the year before as precincts train more staff to use speed guns. But he added that the department’s highway unit, which issues the majority of speeding tickets and is focused almost exclusively on parkways and expressways, would not be redeployed to surface streets.

With this year’s session in Albany yielding a lower speed limit and more speed cameras, and the mayor’s signature on a new package of legislation, I asked Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White what he plans to focus on next.

“Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement,” he said.

  • BBnet3000

    Nothing for bikes. I guess we dont want any knock-on effects to make New York a better city from Vision Zero? Just corralled pedestrians and traffic calming for cars.

    No Vision Zero for childhood asthma?

  • steely

    all of this will make it safer to ride a bike in NYC. at the presser, every single speaker used the word “cyclist” or “bicycle” in a positive way.

  • StepUpAndSaySomething

    It’s great to see some real progress in our safety on the street. We need to keep the pressure up until we stop all the needless deaths caused by the lazy and scofflaw motorists.

    The last quote is important, with better laws on the books, we need the NYPD to enforce them, everywhere. Hopefully Bill puts some backbone into that too.

  • Slower streets are better for cyclists. Plenty in this for a better bike environment. Besides not sure if you saw the previous article, but protected bike lanes continue to be installed throughout the city.

  • Seems like there’s plenty in here for people on bikes:

    “Intro 238-A makes failing to yield to pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way a criminal misdemeanor, not just a traffic violation, punishable with fines and jail time. If the driver injures a pedestrian or cyclist with the right of way, penalties increase to a $250 fine and 30 days in jail.”

    The inclusion of cyclists in this bill is a huge deal. Thanks to Steve Vaccaro and others who helped make it happen.

  • Andres Dee

    Absolutely. The slower the overall speed, the less claim motorists have that cyclists impede traffic.

  • qrt145

    Has there been any word on whether avenues in Manhattan will use the default speed limit or will they be explicitly signalized for a higher speed?

  • red_greenlight1

    I’ll believe this is working when I see it!

  • Guest

    what about the fines on ignorant cyclists, who dart in front of cars like nothing,no reflectors at night or ignorant pedestrians who don’t look both ways before crossing the street and running in traffic to catch a bus…People are hilarious to put all the blame on drivers as if innocent pedestrians and cyclists don’t dart in the middle of the street.. The real problem is not lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 which no one obeys anyway but to be AWARE of your surroundings and realize its NOT just about you…..Maybe just Maybe there will be there less accidents and if you do get hurt SUE thats what NY are all about anyways….and for the info
    you want less accidents don’t let women drive!!!!!….
    Women’s defensive driving = Men’s reckless driving

  • Mr.G

    what about the fines on ignorant cyclists, who dart in front of cars like nothing,no reflectors at night or ignorant pedestrians who don’t look both ways before crossing the street and running in traffic to catch a bus…People are hilarious to put all the blame on drivers as if innocent pedestrians and cyclists don’t dart in the middle of the street.. The real problem is not lowering the speed limit from 30 to 25 which no one obeys anyway but to be AWARE of your surroundings and realize its NOT just about you…..Maybe just maybe there will be fewer accidents if cyclists and pedestrians waited at the crosswalk instead of the middle lane at the light!, and if you do get hurt SUE thats what NYers are all about anyways….and for the info
    you want fewer accidents don’t let women drive!!!!!….
    Women’s defensive driving = Men’s reckless driving

  • I believe you mean “fewer” accidents, not “less.”

  • Greg Costikyan

    “Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement” worries me as a quote… While having the NYPD treat traffic violations more seriously and issue more tickets is no bad thing, the reality is that if your infrastructure is faulty, you’ll have problems. E.g., poor sight lines at intersections will cause collisions in crosswalks; excessively wide traffic lanes will encourage speeding. If we’re to take Vision Zero seriously, the real need isn’t enforcement, but changing our streets to make safer behavior natural and almost automatic.

  • Alex

    This is absolutely precious. Could not have ended that paragraph any better.

  • WasteOfSpace

    DFTT

  • lop

    You only need good line of sight at crosswalks if you allow cars, trucks, bikes etc…to approach them at speed, without slowing down as conditions dictate.

  • Eric Cramer

    Stop gliding through stop signs and hitting my children.

  • Al Roker

    I find your forecasts incorrect and laughable.

  • Mr.G

    laugh all you want the truth hurts I know
    Instead of being ignorant and realize that reducing speed is just a minor part of a bigger problem like actually paying attention to the road at all times no matter who you are whether your a cyclist,pedestrian or a driver…..but too many people are in their own world yapping on a cell phone not paying attention to the road kind of like you AL right? for people’s safety please take the bus….

  • Mr.G

    Instead of being so Ignorant teach your children how to cross the street at the crosswalk and while you’re at it teach your wife the rules of the road as she is the one gliding through stop signs you troll

  • Al Roker

    Says the guy who couldn’t tell it was raining if the skies opened up and soaked him to the bone.

  • Mr.G

    I have been a meteorologist for WPIX 11 for the past 21 years! I am also a meteorologist on WCBS FM101.1 since 1985.. I must be doing something right Al…My forecast for you this week is to lay off that crack pipe….I’ll remind you tomorrow on my newscast……

  • Al Roker

    Are you secretly black? Because Jah-makin me crazy mon!

  • I think infrastructure can solve some of our traffic woes, I think the main responsibility has to be placed on the shoulders of road users.

    Users drive, bike, and walk like they assume the way is clear. They ought to assume there’s trouble ahead and be prepared for it. It’ll slow you down, but that’s the point. Using public thoroughfares is serious.

  • 66 percent of NY’rs hit by cars are hit at intersections with crosswalks, and 45 percent of those have the walk signal when they’re hit. That’s according to the NYPD, the D.O.T., the Dept of Health, and NYU Langone Medical Center.

    So telling kids to cross at the corner isn’t the panacea some people make it out to be. Most of the cars that come close to hitting me do so when I’m in a crosswalk with the signal. 27% of fatal NYC pedestrian collisions involved driver failure to yield.

    Mr G, you’re blaming non motorists for what is largely a motorist problem. And the NYPD is not focusing on fining “ignorant cyclists” because cyclists have killed only six people since 2000, but in that time motorists have killed over 2,200.

  • safetygal

    I’m surprised that streets blog has allowed these sexist comments to stand. I’m pretty sure they violate the terms dictating lively and healthy conversation. They are particularly galling given the disproportionate amount of injuries and deaths caused by men behind the wheel which is statistically proven. Please consider removing these. The mysogony continues in a number of comments.

  • In some cases we’ll let the comment stand as a testament to stupidity, especially if another commenter posts a reply worth keeping.

  • Brian Howald

    Don’t forget the 6% hit while on the sidewalk!

  • Judge Dredd

    OK so If I live in Canarsie and I still live with my parents even though I’m nearly 30 and use the money I save on rent to buy a fancy sports car with a powerful motor, shiny rims, neon lights and a ridiculous sound system, then where the heck can I go to enjoy and show off my toy! Keeping it under 30 or 25 just isn’t going to cut it with the kind of expectations everyone around here has for a ride as flashy as mine is.

  • Bolwerk

    NYC allows people to park right up against the intersection. The result is drivers put their noses way out into intersections to see around people who did that.

  • Lachie2

    Since cars are not allowed to drive on sidewalks, why are people allowed to walk in the streets? Being someone who waits for the bus a lot, I can’t help but notice the very bad behavior of pedestrians. They walk in the street instead of the sidewalk, they use the crosswalk against the light, AND they jaywalk all over the place. Of course, cars can be a problem; but, everytime there is a report of a pedestrian being killed or hurt, I can’t help but wonder , where was that person when it happened????

  • Tyler

    Yes… and unfenced swimming pools don’t cause *all* children’s deaths… what’s your point?

  • Ian Turner

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