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Top Traffic Cops Promise Pedestrians-First Enforcement at West Side Forum

5:06 PM EDT on May 19, 2011

Michael Pilecki (center) promised to strengthen traffic enforcement and focus on pedestrian safety at a community board meeting last night. Photo: Adams/Daily News..

Top NYPD brass expressed surprise at West Side residents' unhappiness with the department's traffic enforcement policies and vowed to do better at a meeting of Manhattan CB 4's transportation committee last night. They also announced a new citywide "pedestrians first" policy for the department.

Four officers attended the CB 4 meeting, according to committee co-chair Christine Berthet, including Michael Pilecki and Scott Hanover, the commanding officer and executive officer of the NYPD's traffic enforcement division. "It was fabulous," said Berthet. "They took copious notes on everything."

Berthet said that committee members had a wide array of complaints with NYPD's current traffic enforcement practices in the area and pushed for more aggressive enforcement focused on pedestrian safety. "They were surprised how strong the message was from the community," said Berthet. "We want fewer agents [who can only issue tickets for very limited violations like parking] and more tickets, summonses and towaways."

Certain NYPD practices earned specific criticism from the West Siders. Police wave cars through red lights even when there isn't any threat of gridlock, they said, or wave turning vehicles right into crossing pedestrians. "They said they had heard that, but needed to reinforce that message," reported Berthet.

The officers also agreed to enforce anti-idling laws against buses and vans as well as automobiles.

To ensure that the police follow through on their commitments, said Berthet, she'll hold another meeting of the transportation committee in three months to gather community feedback. "If there was no visible change," she said, "we'll re-invite them."

Pilecki and Hanover also told the community board that the police had made a new citywide commitment to "pedestrians first" enforcement. "This is their new priority," said Berthet. The campaign will include retraining traffic officers and stressing the "pedestrians first" mantra inside the department with visual reminders like stickers. A Streetsblog request to the NYPD press office for more information on the "pedestrians first" commitment was not returned.

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