Another Day, Another Daily News Potshot at Vision Zero

Get it? The Daily News editorial board doesn’t.
Get it? The Daily News editorial board doesn’t.

Today’s Daily News swipe at Vision Zero is the tabloid’s lamest yet.

An editorial published this morning clocked in at all of four sentences. Citing a study that counted the number of pedestrians listening to headphones and using cell phones while crossing at four Manhattan intersections, the Daily News editorial board concluded:

If Mayor de Blasio wants to slap cuffs on bus drivers, fine — so long as cops also charge phone-walkers who survive with attempted suicide.

There’s a lot of willful ignorance packed into that sentence. First, it’s not against the law to use an electronic device while walking. And the report, from the Journal of Community Health, presents no new evidence that pedestrians who use electronic devices cause vehicle crashes.

This editorial is supposed to be a sarcastic jab at the Right of Way Law, which the Daily News thinks should not apply to MTA bus drivers. The new law is in good company: Whenever the city implements a new street safety policy — protected bike lanes, the 25 miles per hour speed limit — you can count on the Daily News to undermine it.

According to NYPD, this morning a driver hit a 61-year-old woman while turning right from 21st Avenue onto Cropsey Avenue in Bath Beach. The victim was declared “likely to die,” but police said she was alive as of this afternoon. The NYPD public information office had no details on who had the right of way, but in most NYC crashes where a turning driver harms a pedestrian, the victim was following the law.

Equating injury and death caused by careless driving with the invented problem of “distracted walking” overlooks crashes that killed people, including Seth Kahn and Marisol Martinez, who did nothing wrong. While drivers keep hurting people, Daily News editorial writers are tossing out dumb one-liners.

  • Kevin Love

    In terms of impairing their ability to hear their surroundings, I would wager that car drivers with their windows rolled up have a higher level of impairment than pedestrians with headphones.

    Where is the Post’s editorial demanding a law banning car drivers from rolling up their windows?

  • Andrew Yackira

    @disqus_ggY8CnVn5H:disqus —Indeed, and these guys did a small study on just that. http://www.bikebiz.com/news/read/cyclists-with-ipods-hear-the-same-as-motorists-listening-to-nothing/013329

  • William Farrell

    You are absolutely correct. I posted this research on Twitter earlier in regards to this conversation: https://t.co/fKiPEEAbKy

  • IlIlIl

    M-F I sit at 3rd Ave and 24th(pictured below) in the morning and watch double length buses muscle their way through pedestrians and fail to look for people crossing the light on their left through the turn. On more than one occasion the driver missed the angle and I had to move on my bike to avoid getting run over since they don’t seem like they are going to stop. Law should absolutely be applied to them.

  • BBnet3000

    If they realized how VZ is perpetuating the modal status quo they might come to love it.

  • New Yorker

    New York City’s tabloids hate New Yorkers.

  • red_greenlight1

    Would I not mind seeing the NYPD issue warnings or tickets to those idiots who jaywalk while starring at their phone? Absolutely! After all- we ALL- pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, hav a role to make NYC’s roads safer for EVERYONE!

    Do I think this should be a centeral focus or prerequisite for focusing on the drivers i.e. the MOST dangerous road users? Absolutely not!

  • Maggie

    Gah, this study.

    Five midtown Manhattan intersections. (Near Times Square and Penn Station, said Gothamist). Observed for ten light cycles each on four occasions. An average of 109 pedestrians crossing on each light cycle. In the abstract, no motorist or cyclist counts given, or collision/injury counts. The intersections are just called dangerous without explanation.

    So nearly 22,000 people on foot cross: 19,475 of them have the light and 974 of the people who presumably looked for traffic and then walked across, were also observed wearing headphones or carrying a phone.

    I guess it’s a Rorschach test, I just see midtown Manhattan streets that should be pedestrianized already.

  • Joe R.

    I think warnings makes the most sense. I’m philosophically against fining or otherwise sanctioning people when they do something which mostly places only them in danger. It’s not the government’s job to protect idiots from themselves, or at least not to do so via fines. Same thing with cyclists passing red lights. Unless one nearly hits a pedestrian, at best that should get a warning.

  • Andres Dee

    “Because “drivers” (unlike bicyclers and pededestrians) are doing something important and have important places to go. Also, unlike bicyclers and pededestrians, they can be trusted to just do what’s right.” (/sarc)

  • Andres Dee

    Brilliant!

  • Jesse

    Why shouldn’t the streets be a safe place to walk with headphones in?

  • I_walk_NYC

    This article makes lots of sense.In order for Vision Zero to work pedestrians and cyclists have to be alert when approaching an intersection. Just don’t blame the motorists.Many can see Vision Zero didn’t save any lifes in NYC.

  • I think it makes sense that everybody should use streets carefully.

    But ticketing people for behavior that isn’t particularly dangerous just because drivers are ticketed for behavior that is makes little sense. And that is exactly what the editorial advocates.

  • red_greenlight1

    Well it is actually dangerous behavior. A. For the Jay walkers and B. For others especially cyclists. I’ve heard of cyclists breaking bones and duplicating shoulders as well as hips. It’s a logical fallacy that blind jaywalking isn’t dangerous.

  • qrt145

    Duplicating shoulders? Cool, I always wanted to have four shoulders! 🙂

    Now, seriously, I do agree that jaywalkers do pose some risk to others, but it is relatively small compared to the risk posed by vehicles. How much enforcement resources should be spent on jaywalking is the big question, as you have to consider costs vs benefits.

  • Joe Enoch

    Last night while crossing a street with the light — in the cross walk, an suv nearly slammed into me while turning onto Amsterdam Ave. I didn’t have any electronic device in my hand or ears but was simply crossing the street with my head down a little bit.

    The driver rolled down his window and screamed at me to keep my head up.

    I suppose the Daily News would fault me for not watching out for drivers while crossing with the light??

  • J_12

    jaywalking is one of those things that should not be illegal in itself. If the act of jaywalking causes some type of harm or damage, then it could be a contributing factor to determine the walkers level of responsibility and potential criminal charges.

    Motor vehicle violations should be illegal in and of themselves, regardless of whether they end up causing some other harm.

    Any activity has the potential to cause or contribute to harm, but things that are very unlikely to do so, and things that are much more likely, should be in different legal categories.

  • red_greenlight1

    Well if results in less dead people go for it!

  • Woodcider

    Sidewalk, sure. Street…. Didn’t anyone learn how to cross the street in kindergarten???

  • Andres Dee

    So, pededestrians are supposed to watch for turning traffic and, (if they value their life) wait until turning cars make their turns. If the light starts flashing “don’t walk”, did they lose the right to cross?

  • Moncada’s Codpiece

    In fact, free right on red! That always works out great. Turns are really important. Vital, even.

  • Bart

    This blog is garbage and one sided…..i guess it’s created by a visitor from a small town who decided to make my city their home…..welcome and thanks for nothing…..probably won’t post this comment either….

  • KevinJWalsh

    As a matter of fact, I have always watched for turning traffic and wait, if necessary, until turning cars have made their turns. As a result of this practice I have never come close to being struck by a car while on foot.

  • Joe R.

    I do the same. I don’t do it because I feel drivers are right cutting off crossing pedestrians. Rather, I do it to save my neck. Also, I really don’t trust drivers to do what they’re supposed to do. Even in a perfect world where most drivers yielded, I’d rather let a turning car go then walk in front of it, hoping they yield to me. Being right won’t matter in a collision with something a weighing an order of magnitude more than me.

  • Andrew

    You’re welcome to do that if you like, although I don’t think it’s a great idea (I’ll explain why below).

    But the law is unambiguous that a pedestrian crossing with the light has the right to proceed, while any conflicting (turning) traffic is required to yield. A driver who opts to ignore this law and who makes a turn without yielding to a pedestrian is completely and absolutely to blame for any collision that results. Turning across the path of a pedestrian is every bit as illegal as running a red light.

    The law could have been written to require pedestrians to yield to motor vehicles making turns, but it wasn’t. (And for good reason.)

    So why don’t think it’s a good idea for a pedestrian to (voluntarily) yield to motor vehicles? Because it sends a confused message. A driver who sees you approaching the crosswalk should be preparing to stop for you to cross – but then you don’t cross and just stand there, and how is the driver supposed to know you’re not going to suddenly step into the crosswalk (as is your right)? Or if you give an explicit signal to proceed, what happens when another pedestrian steps into the crosswalk to cross the street? It’s safer for all to keep the message simple: pedestrians crossing with the light go first; anybody making a conflicting move waits.

    When I’m crossing the street, if a driver signals his turn and patiently waits for me to cross, I pick up the pace so that he won’t have to wait long. Conversely, if a driver fails to signal or tries to shove me out of the way, I take my sweet time.

  • Andrew

    Didn’t anyone learn in driver’s ed that a motorist making a turn is required to yield to pedestrians crossing the street?

    If I’m crossing with the walk signal, I’m not the one who has to yield. I’m not the one who has an obligation to watch for others. In practice, of course, I do watch for others, since so many drivers fail to yield – but that doesn’t somehow shift the obligation away from the driver and onto me.

  • Woodcider

    That’s quaint. You think there’s Driver’s Ed in NYC. And I said nothing about yielding. Stuff happens. Breaks fail, emergency vehicles go thru lights, and here you are with no situational awareness, because you think drowning out one of your major senses with dubstep is a good idea.

  • KevinJWalsh

    Actually I don’t care to play games or send messages with traffic. I wait, and when they see I’m letting them go, they go. When they have turned and the coast is clear, I proceed, whether on foot or whether I am on a bike. And wouldn’t you know it, for 57 years I’ve never been hit by a car!

    However: when a guy signals me to go ahead, out of courtesy I, like you, hustle a bit quicker, to be polite.

  • Andrew

    That’s quaint. You think there’s Driver’s Ed in NYC.

    I even took it myself.

    And I said nothing about yielding.

    The topic here is the Right of Way Law, which applies only to drivers who fail to yield. My apologies for assuming you were discussing the topic at hand.

    Stuff happens. Breaks fail, emergency vehicles go thru lights, and here you are with no situational awareness, because you think drowning out one of your major senses with dubstep is a good idea.

    Kindly don’t attribute to me beliefs that I don’t hold. I personally don’t use headphones or cell phones while crossing streets – it’s not the brake failures or emergency vehicles that worry me; it’s the selfish drivers who treat the law as optional and try to shove me out of the way that do.

    Similarly, I don’t flash my wallet or valuables while walking through dangerous neighborhoods at night.

    If we want dangerous neighborhoods to become safe, we can’t merely tell people to hide their valuables. And if we want dangerous streets to become safe, we can’t merely tell pedestrians to watch out for selfish drivers.

    By the way, drivers who close the windows and listen to the radio are drowning out even more of their surroundings than pedestrians wearing headphones. Do you have a problem with them, too, or is it only pedestrians you’re after?

  • Andrew

    I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. I don’t play games either. I’m simply trying to cross the street. Perhaps you only cross streets with light turning volumes, but at many of the streets that I cross, by the time everybody who wishes to turn has finished turning, the pedestrian signal has already turned blinking if not solid red, and I now have to wait for the light again, only for the same situation to repeat.

    The law requires motorists making turns to yield to pedestrians. The law exists for a reason. Let’s enforce it. Period.

  • Woodcider

    I’m not doing the Internet Debate Warrior thing with you. It’s Reddit troll type masturbation and I’m not providing fodder. My statements are in direct response to those made before it.

    Anything that impedes your senses while driving, biking or walking is unsafe. I just watched a video of a white Camary going thru a flashing/ringing train crossing and getting slammed by a train. If the driver had been compelled to stop at the crossing like commercial vehicles, he couldn’t have helped but see & hear that a train was coming because he would have had to roll down the windows to listen. Thus defeating a booming system and ridiculous tinted windows.

    If Vision Zero was truly concerned about pedestrian safety, would it kill someone to address jaywalking & text walking? Because why wait for people to start dying in statically significant numbers before printing one stupid poster?

  • dporpentine

    I never give up my right of way to cars. And I too have never been struck.

  • dporpentine

    I love the image of a person walking down the sidewalk wearing headphones who then takes them off at every corner before crossing the street.

    This is reasonable prescription and a sound basis for a policy–far sounder than simply demanding that people adhere to established right-of-way laws.

  • Woodcider

    I would be happy to see just one person look both ways before they cross while holding their child’s hand. Is that asking too much? The streets are dangerous. Having the right of way doesn’t make you bulletproof.

  • Andrew

    Internet Debate Warrior? Sorry, not familiar with the concept.

    “Jaywalking & text walking” that result in death or injury are already penalized quite severely: the penalty is death or injury. I’m not sure why you think there needs to be further penalty. Meanwhile, you seem to be objecting to a much milder penalty for drivers who directly cause death or injury to others.

    In addition, crossing the street mid-block or against the light, once it’s clear that no traffic is approaching, is safer than waiting for the light and stepping in front of turning motorists who may or may not yield. Kindly don’t reprimand me – or purpose to penalize me – for looking out for my own safety.

    I’m honored to be referred to as “quaint,” but I didn’t take driver’s ed through the public school system, and I’m not sure where I implied it. “I’m not doing the Internet Debate Warrior thing with you. It’s Reddit troll type masturbation and I’m not providing fodder. My statements are in direct response to those made before it. Anything that impedes your senses while driving, biking or walking is unsafe. I just watched a video of a white Camary going thru a flashing/ringing train crossing and getting slammed by a train. If the driver had been compelled to stop at the crossing like commercial vehicles, he couldn’t have helped but see & hear that a train was coming because he would have had to roll down the windows to listen. Thus defeating a booming system and ridiculous tinted windows. If Vision Zero was truly concerned about pedestrian safety, would it kill someone to address jaywalking & text walking? Because why wait for people to start dying in statically significant numbers before printing one stupid poster? ”
    [image: Disqus] Settings
    A new comment was posted on Streetsblog NYC ——————————
    *Woodcider*
    I’m not doing the Internet Debate Warrior thing with you. It’s Reddit troll type masturbation and I’m not providing fodder. My statements are in direct response to those made before it.

    Anything that impedes your senses while driving, biking or walking is unsafe. I just watched a video of a white Camary going thru a flashing/ringing train crossing and getting slammed by a train. If the driver had been compelled to stop at the crossing like commercial vehicles, he couldn’t have helped but see & hear that a train was coming because he would have had to roll down th e windows to listen. Thus defeating a booming system and ridiculous tinted windows.

    If Vision Zero was truly concerned about pedestrian safety, would it kill someone to address jaywalking & text walking? Because why wait for people to start dying in statically significant numbers before printing one stupid poster?

    2:06 a.m., Monday March 23 | Other comments by Woodcider * Reply to Woodcider *
    Woodcider’s comment is in reply to *Andrew* :
    That’s quaint. You think there’s Driver’s Ed in NYC.

    I even took it myself.

    And I said nothing about yielding.

    The topic …

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  • Bolwerk

    If you’re so concerned about people dying (you’re not), you should be a ban-cars advocate. Jaywalking is an imaginary offense, and text walking is unlikely to happen in auto traffic period. Texting while driving, on the other hand?

  • Woodcider

    Now you presume to know what I care about.
    I would love it if we could drastically reduce car traffic in not only Manhattan but all 5 boroughs. I’m not wasting my time listing the myriad of benefits.
    Something on the lines of the set up in Curitiba, in Brazil.

    And I’ve actually seen people step off of curbs and almost get hit while looking at their phones. Many people. And the same for countless jaywalkers. Imaginary? Peddle that BS to someone who doesn’t know any better.