De Blasio on Right of Way Law: Safety Comes First, Not Placating Unions

Looks like the Right of Way Law isn’t going anywhere.

Testifying in the state legislature earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio was compelled to defend the new city law that makes it a misdemeanor for drivers to injure a pedestrian or cyclist who has the right-of-way. The law had come under attack from the Transport Workers Union, which wants to exempt MTA bus drivers, and the TWU contributes to a lot of Albany campaigns.

Back in New York City, a City Council bill to give the TWU what it wants currently has 25 sponsors, one shy of a majority. With the TWU about to run ads attacking de Blasio, and Council Member Rory Lancman reportedly set to introduce a bill that would add other exemptions, the Right of Way Law is still under threat. But as long as City Hall stands firm, the law should be safe from tampering.

At a press conference on Staten Island today, a reporter asked the mayor about the new TWU ads. De Blasio didn’t equivocate in his response:

They’re absolutely misleading and I think they really should think twice before they continue to spread this misinformation. We made very, very clear that public employees are going to be treated like any other citizens.

There are more rigorous laws. Why? Because people were dying. You know, seniors were dying. Children were dying or being grievously injured. Job one of all of us in public service is to protect people’s safety, not to placate unions.

So, the bottom line here is — we said, if the officer on the scene comes to the determination that it was an unavoidable accident — as with any civilian — there is no arrest. If the officer on the scene determines that it was an avoidable accident, and it would merit arrest for a civilian, there would be an arrest — even for a public employee.

Very obvious example — and I believe a number of the tragic instances we’ve had in the last year fit this example: The pedestrian had the right of way. You know, there was a walk sign. The pedestrian was crossing [with] the walk sign. That should not be a situation where a pedestrian is killed.

So, if the officer on the scene comes to the determination that that is… worthy of arrest, they will engage in the arrest. They will do it respectfully. They will do it in an honorable manner as humanly possible. But it is the obligation of the NYPD to treat everyone equally and they will.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Advocates, Mayor de Blasio Fend Off TWU Attack on Traffic Safety Laws

|
.@RonKim40, Thank you for standing up to help #SaveTheCrosswalk! We urge Speaker @CarlHeastie to reject A.6048-B! pic.twitter.com/7lHfccgtiM — Families For Safe St (@NYC_SafeStreets) June 24, 2015 If you walk or bike in New York City, you can thank Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, and Mayor Bill de Blasio for stopping a Transport Workers Union attempt to […]

Unions Agree: Let Bus Drivers Kill People With the Right of Way

|
Just about all of New York’s major labor unions signed a Transport Workers Union letter demanding that MTA bus drivers be allowed to legally injure and kill people who are walking or biking with the right of way. The letter, dated June 11, was sent to New York City Council members [PDF]. The unions want the council to […]

New Families For Safe Streets Campaign Defends Right of Way Law

|
Families For Safe Streets released videos and posters this morning defending the Right of Way Law, in response to a campaign by Transport Workers Union Local 100, which wants MTA bus drivers exempted from the law. The Right of Way Law, passed unanimously by the City Council and signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio last June, allows for low-level misdemeanor charges against drivers who […]

City Hall and TWU Reach Settlement in Suit Over Right-of-Way Law

|
The de Blasio administration has reached a settlement with TWU Local 100 over the union’s lawsuit against the Right-of-Way Law, ostensibly bringing an end to a rancorous political fight that sapped energy from the city’s street safety efforts for the better part of a year. On its face, the settlement maintains the integrity of the law, which was intended […]