Eric Ulrich Won’t Say What He’s Doing About Vehicular Killings in His District

After reiterating his opposition to speed cameras, and following the deaths of at least six pedestrians and cyclists in his district in the last 15 months, Queens City Council Member Eric Ulrich isn’t talking about street safety.

On the subject of keeping New Yorkers safe from dangerous drivers, Eric Ulrich is uncharacteristically silent.

At the end of June, an editorial from Alexander Blenkinsopp — an Ulrich constituent and member of Community Board 9 and the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association — applauded state lawmakers for approving NYC’s speed camera demonstration program. Blenkinsopp said he hoped the cameras would be used to slow speeding drivers near schools in Woodhaven. He also noted anti-enforcement rhetoric from Ulrich, which peaked before the council endorsed the speed camera measure.

Ulrich said at a committee meeting in March that speed cameras would be “punishing the middle class.” He went on to call them a “stupid and moronic idea” and “part of a radical agenda,” adding for good measure, “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of in my life.” He condoned drivers speeding down school streets at night when nobody is around.

Blenkinsopp said that at least six pedestrians and cyclists died in traffic in Woodhaven between 1996 and 2009. At least six pedestrians and cyclists have been killed by drivers in Ulrich’s district since May 2012, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Since March, when Ulrich told Streetsblog he believes speed cameras are a revenue scam, at least one pedestrian has died in his district — Rafael Diaz, a senior struck by a motorist on May 16.

Speeding is the leading factor in NYC traffic deaths, and the probability of pedestrian death increases dramatically with motorist speed. Yet Ulrich’s disdain for automated speed enforcement is unequivocal. “We agree to disagree,” he tweeted in reply to Blenkinsopp’s editorial.

Despite his history of ridiculing DOT traffic calming efforts, however, Ulrich told us he is “committed to ensuring the safety of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists” across the city. “I believe that greater traffic enforcement by the NYPD and installing traffic calming measures such as speed bumps and stop signs in speed prone locations is the best way to achieve this goal,” he wrote.

After Ulrich weighed in on Blenkinsopp’s editorial, we emailed him and two of his staffers. We asked Ulrich what measures he has taken to improve traffic enforcement and traffic calming in his district, and where he stands on the deployment of speed cameras near Woodhaven schools, as called for by Blenkinsopp. When we didn’t hear back, we emailed Ulrich and his staffers again a week later. We received no response.

  • Voter

    Ulrich’s logic: it’s totally fine for cops to stop young black males for any reason at all if it stops more crime. But ticketing people who are speeding in violation of a clearly posted law? That’s “punishing the middle class.”

  • Mark Walker

    Ulrich is “committed” to giving lip service to street safety while giving the most egregious violators, motorists, the status of a protected class. Streets are designed for them and laws don’t apply to them and Ulrich wants to keep it that way. Voters in car-free households should mark his words and target him for political extinction.

  • FLYINGCHOPSTIK

    He won’t be getting my vote

  • Anonymous

    So we should expect speed bumps to proliferate in his district. Can’t wait!

  • Anonymous

    To be fair, which Brad Aaron apparently doesn’t want to be, there are no stats here to compare the local stats to any local, regional, or national numbers to indicate that street safety here is any worse than any other comparable location, on a per-capita or per-traffic volume basis. Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter what you do there are going to be car-pedestrian crashes, and unless the numbers here are above average then there’s no real indication of any problem because 0 crashes is never going to happen. But Brad doesn’t care to present these facts, he wants to sensationalize the issue. And also to be fair, there is also no good research to indicate that mailing tickets to the owner of the car (not necessarily the driver) weeks after they’ve driven down a street is effective at reducing crashes or would have prevented the crashes mentioned in this article. I also don’t believe Ulrich is anti-enforcement as much as he is anti-automated-enforcement. That is a distinct difference, and there are many reasons to oppose outsourcing law enforcement and converting to 3rd party for-profit policing, such as avoiding companies like Redflex who provide these services (just look at FireRedflex.com).

  • Lew M. Simon

    Please call me an interview me . My name is Lew M Simon Democrat in the race for City Council 32 bad district . Speed bums are needed near all schools and speed cameras to slow down speeders . It is for all our protection . We have had to many people hurt or fatalities . My tel number is 718 945-1216 . Thank you .

  • Anonymous

    “Average” is not good enough when being average means hundreds of unnecessary deaths every year. Even if we are better than average, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be even better. Maybe we’ll never achieve zero crashes, but we should still try to move in that direction.

  • Anonymous

    1st rule of politics: if you’re committed to a goal, you never have to SAY that you’re committed to it. Your actions will show it.

  • J

    There is no academic debate over the effectiveness of speed cameras at lowering the rates of lawbreaking, injury, and death. They work. Study after study confirms this. Saying that you can’t prevent injuries and deaths is incorrect and just plain callous.

    http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr042513.html
    http://trid.trb.org/view.aspx?id=377496
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457500000427
    http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.publhealth.27.021405.102225
    http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/9/4/302.short
    http://arsrpe.acrs.org.au/pdf/RS030116.pdf

  • Eric McClure

    Oh, please. How often is the average car in New York City driven by someone other than one of its owners. In 3-1/2 years, ours has been driven exactly twice by someone other than me or my wife. Your alleged “facts” are nothing but equivocations aimed at allowing dangerous drivers to skirt responsibility for their actions.

  • Brad Aaron

    Councilman?

  • Anonymous

    Cars being rare in NYC, I think there may be many people who enter into informal car-sharing arrangements.

    But anyway, I don’t see anything wrong with sending the fine to the owner. If I lend you my car and I get a fine because of you, the consequences are simple: either you pay the fine, or I won’t lend you my car again. Or both. (This is a generic “you”, in case it’s not clear. And it’s a hypothetical scenario since I don’t own a car. 😉 )

  • Eric McClure

    Sure, there are certainly many instances when someone other than the registrant is driving, and your solution of fine quid pro quo is a simple way of dealing with it. My larger point is that everything cited by opponents of holding dangerous, lawbreaking drivers accountable are nothing but canards.

  • Andrew

    Are we reading the same article? I don’t see any sensationalism in the article. I do see quite a bit of sensationalism in one of the responses, however.

  • Andrew

    Are we reading the same article? I don’t see any sensationalism in the article. I do see quite a bit of sensationalism in one of the responses, however.

  • Joe R.

    Speeding enforcement in a place like NYC is much better handled via automation. Assuming Ulrich isn’t anti-enforcement, but only anti-automated enforcement, the perhaps he can explain how we can *safely* enforce speeding without automation. By definition, in order to pull over a speeding vehicle you need to catch up to it. That implies the chase vehicle will be going even faster than the speeding vehicle. If a motorist passes a stopped police cruiser at, say, 50 mph, then that police cruiser probably needs to go 80 mph to catch up and pull them over. In many cases there just isn’t the road space for that. In nearly every case the police chase is likely to be far more dangerous than just letting the speeder go on their merry way. This is actually why speeding ticket numbers are very low. The NYPD rightly realizes pulling over speeders will create more problems than it solves. Indeed, this was even the case on highways back in the 1970s. Enforcement of the then 55 mph speed limit killed more people than it saved. The only safe manner to enforce speed limits is via automation.

    And speeding on urban streets generally isn’t the direct cause of crashes. Rather, it makes the consequences of such crashes worse, particularly to pedestrians and cyclists. If there are no pedestrians and cyclists, then you know what? I’m fine with letting motorists speed along on their merry way as they’ll only kill each other. That’s not the case however on NYC streets.

  • Anonymous

    This guy is a child.

  • Anonymous

    Because they don’t care about livable streets. They’ve made that very clear over the years. Just as Republicans believe that life begins at conception and ends at birth, the people at Working Families believe that life begins when you punch the imaginary clock and ends the moment you start back home. It’s why they’ll never be a broad-based political movement: they stand for only a very narrow idea of living (as is nicely illustrated by the “families” part of their name: “Single people, or anyone dispossessed, we don’t care about you”).

  • Anonymous

    Nationally, the average is about 30% of cars are driven by people who don’t own them. That means 3 in 10 tickets go to the wrong person! That is lazy, shoddy police work and should be unacceptable by any standard.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Yes, we should try to do better but with PROVEN methods. Where are the traffic engineers? Police know nothing besides enforcing the law. Traffic engineers understand road safety. Everyone here thinks they are a traffic engineer.

  • Anonymous

    None of those links are academic studies with any kind of rigor or control or regression analysis needed to draw a real conclusion.

    Even for you, that’s impressively dishonest.

    Nonetheless, I’m grateful to you for exposing me to the word “furphy.” From the last of those articles you listed:

    Road Safety Council independent chair D’Arcy Holman rubbished claims that speed cameras caused drivers to pay less attention to the road, saying there was “no doubt” they prevented fatalities. “That’s a complete furphy – you might as well say changing gears or turning a steering wheel is a distraction,” Professor Holman said.

  • Ian Turner

    The links from the UK are interesting, and suggest that signage for speed cameras may be harmful. We’re not planning to mark cameras in NYC, so that will be an interesting data point.

    The one from Australia is totally bogus, it looks at national speed trends and expecting to see an effect without considering all the possible other factors.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, your reply to a bunch of links to academic papers in scientific journals is to post a bunch of links to local newspapers and tabloids? That is impressive.

  • Eric Ulrich needs to grow up and until he does he shouldn’t hold office. I mean really ‘never heard of speed cameras’ and thinks it’s ‘radical’ and ‘…never heard of such a ridiculous thing…’ Obviously too young and inexperienced to hold office. He’s probably a speeder too, wonder what his driving record is?

  • Exactly as it lets the Owner of the vehicle understand that they lent their vehicle to an irresponsible driver… don’t you think they have a right to know how their vehicle is being used? I think the ticket went to the right person who will undoubtedly confront the driver and make them pay, AND, ask for an explanation. You’re 30% is an exaggeration which undermines your comment. 30%, haha.

  • Eric McClure

    If you were actually concerned about lazy, shoddy police work, you would be making noise about the FACT that drivers who kill rarely get more than a summons. But that’s not really your concern, is it?

  • ItBeThatWays

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BKdbxX1pDw

    for the speed limit arguments…

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