A Year Later, How’s James Vacca Doing on His Pledge to Protect Pedestrians?

Today NYC DOT announced its progress on a series of measures designed to promote safer riding habits among commercial cyclists. The agency has held 17 multi-lingual forums around the city to educate businesses and commercial cyclists about how to ride safely, and distributed kits with reflective vests, bells, and lights to 1,500 commercial cyclists through a partnership with delivery.com.

DOT also announced that enforcement of a package of laws passed by the City Council last October will start in April. The new laws, which include a requirement that commercial cyclists take an online safety course, were touted by City Council Transportation Chair James Vacca as a way to end the “wild, wild west” environment on city streets.

Now that Vacca’s laws are about to take effect, it’s worth looking back at what’s happened since he started his big safety push.

Back at the end of 2011, Vacca told the Post that he wanted to ramp up bike enforcement in the year ahead because, “My priority is protection of the pedestrians, and my mantra is that the pedestrian is always right, even when the pedestrian is wrong. Everything I do is governed by that basic foundation.”

In the year after Vacca proclaimed that everything he does is governed by the imperative to protect pedestrians, more than 130 pedestrians have been killed by drivers in New York City. None have been killed by cyclists.

But it was the commercial cyclist legislation that sailed through Vacca’s committee in the fall, while bills urging reforms to NYPD’s broken crash investigation procedures, which let deadly drivers get back behind the wheel without so much as a slap on the wrist, continue to languish.

So you’ve got to question whether protecting pedestrians is really a priority for the chair of the transportation committee, since improving pedestrian safety seems to fall somewhere below “making it legal to park in front of your own curb cut” on Vacca’s to-do list.

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