De Blasio Signs Right of Way and Bike Access Bills

Today's legislation ensures that pedestrians who enter a crosswalk during the flashing “Pedestrian Change Interval” have the right of way under New York City law. Image: DOT
The new law ensures that pedestrians who enter a crosswalk during the flashing “Pedestrian Change Interval” have the right of way under New York City law. Image: DOT

Following unanimous City Council votes earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio signed several bills yesterday with important implications for walking and biking in NYC.

Public Advocate Letitia James’ Intro 997-A, now known as Local Law 115, amends the legal definition of pedestrians’ right of way so anyone who steps off the curb during the flashing “Don’t Walk” phase has the protection of the law.

Without the legislation, district attorneys and NYPD had declined to charge many motorists who struck people in crosswalks, citing a passage in the city’s traffic rules that said “no pedestrian shall enter or cross the roadway during the flashing ‘Don’t Walk’ phase.”

“By passing this law, we are taking a common-sense step toward protecting pedestrians and making New York’s streets safer,” James said in a statement. The new rule goes into effect on December 27, 90 days after the signing.

At the same ceremony, de Blasio also signed three bills enhancing bike access to commercial and residential buildings.

The most significant, Jumaane Williams’ Intro 795-A, now known as Local Law 107, fixes a major limitation in the 2009 Bicycle Access to Building Law. That law required office building owners and managers to provide bike access via freight elevators when tenants requested it, but neglected to ensure that buildings provide an alternative when freight elevators are not in service.

The Williams bill ensures that cyclists can bring their bikes through passenger elevators when the freight elevator is not operating.

Additionally, Helen Rosenthal’s Intro 405, now known as Local Law 105, guarantees folding bike access to commercial buildings and Ydanis Rodriguez’ Intro 695, now known as Local Law 106, guarantees bike access to residential elevators.

In the past, the city’s powerful real estate lobby fought legislation requiring bike access to buildings. But these three laws cleared the City Council with relative ease.

“More New Yorkers are riding bikes than ever before,” de Blasio said. “We celebrate that as a very positive development for the city, but there are some real obstacles to bike riding that don’t occur on the road, they occur in our buildings.”

“It’s imperative we keep looking closely at our transportation policies and incentivize modes of transit that make sense,” Rodriguez said.

  • JudenChino

    Has there been any progress on a bill to permit bicycles to cross at PLIs?

  • None yet. I encourage everyone to call or email Ydanis Rodriguez’ office and urge him to hold a hearing on Carlos Menchaca’s bill.

    District office:
    917-521-2616

    Legislative office:
    212-788-7053

    yrodriguez@council.nyc.gov

  • Jesse

    I predict an increase in NYPD claiming that the victim was not in the crosswalk.

  • Mike

    I’m not sure that even could increase. Isn’t it about maxed out?

  • Simon Phearson

    The NYPD had really no problem letting drivers off the hook for hitting pedestrians with the full right of way under the way the law was before, so I don’t know why that will change now. Maybe they’ll come up with a new excuse, maybe not.

    The legal change is certainly a step forward, but I wouldn’t exaggerate the situation we had before. I think the DA’s interpretation of the right of way during countdown timers was a bit spurious and already reflected a pro-driver bias. Removing support for their excuse not to pursue these cases is not, in itself, going to incline them more strongly to press them.

  • walks bikes drives

    Just sent him a nice email. Thanks for the info.

  • AMH

    Done!

  • Spifford
  • Andre D

    Or they will push them out of the crosswalk with their cruiser so a car can hit them legally.

  • dob5now

    How does one compel their building to adopt a compliant bicycle access plan? Our building shuts the freight elevator at 6 pm and doesn’t allow bicycles in passenger elevators. My employer asked if they would update their bicycle access plan to allow bicycle access outside normal business hours. They said they weren’t obliged to do so until notified by the NYC building department. Is this right? If so, is there any way I (or my employer) could speed up compliance?

  • Does your company have a facilities manager? If that officer cannot make the building management undersand that the law applies to them, then he or she should be trying to contact the City. The regulatory section of the Department of Buildings is at 212-566-5809.

  • dob5now

    We do have a facilities manager. Unfortunately, he was pushed back by the building. Thanks for the contact information – I’ll take this up with facilities again.

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