On Day of Remembrance, Mayor Pledges to Take Vision Zero “a Lot Farther”

Hundreds of people walked from City Hall to the United Nations yesterday to remember victims of traffic violence and call for action to prevent more loss of life on the streets. Addressing the crowd before the march, Mayor de Blasio said his administration’s effort to eliminate traffic deaths “has just started” and pledged to “take it a lot farther.”

At the insistence of the de Blasio administration and NYC street safety advocates, Albany enacted legislation in 2014 to lower the default speed limit to 25 mph and increase the number of speed enforcement cameras on NYC streets, and traffic deaths in the city are on pace for a historic low this year. Even with that improvement, however, it’s all but certain that more than 200 people will be killed in New York traffic before 2015 is over. The persistent message yesterday from victims’ families, advocates, and elected officials was that more must be done.

Noting that traffic violence had claimed more than a dozen lives in the last few weeks, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said the city must implement proven safety measures like pedestrian islands, protected bike lanes, and speed cameras more expeditiously. “We are not yet to the point where these common sense improvements are done routinely,” he said.

The de Blasio administration has made incremental progress on street redesign but will have to dramatically accelerate the pace of change to achieve the rapid reduction in traffic deaths that Vision Zero calls for. DOT’s high-impact street transformations, like the redesign of 1.3 miles of Queens Boulevard, don’t cover enough ground each year in a city with 6,000 miles of streets. The department’s political timidity and the lack of budgetary resources for quick, effective safety improvements have been a drag on progress.

Yesterday the mayor’s message was on target. De Blasio said plainly that “redesigning streets saves lives” and speeding enforcement changes behavior. “There are a lot of things that have been accepted as the status quo that we should not accept,” he said. “We have to jolt that reality, we have to change that to the core.”

The question is whether the mayor will take the lead and jolt the status quo himself, like he did with the 25 mph law and speed cameras, or fade into the background again, letting obstructionist politicos and the retrograde elements within his administration dictate what happens to the city’s streets.

The march was New York’s way of observing the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, an event launched in the 1990s by Road Peace, a British organization of crash survivors and victims’ families. There was no comparable group in New York until the recent emergence of Families for Safe Streets — people who have lost loved ones to traffic violence or themselves suffered life-altering injuries.

Several electeds turned out to express solidarity with the families and their message — that traffic deaths can be prevented and other New Yorkers can be spared their pain. In addition to the mayor, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Public Advocate Tish James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and City Council members Ydanis Rodriguez, Jimmy Van Bramer, and Helen Rosenthal addressed the crowd.

The marchers I spoke to said traffic violence is both an intensely personal issue for them and a pervasive problem that affects everyone.

Brian Thomas of the Bronx said he was “just glad to be alive” after an impatient driver blew past him while he was biking in Eastchester last month, sending him crashing to the pavement. He broke his left wrist, had some of his teeth knocked out, and suffered serious facial injuries that required surgery and continue to affect his speech.

“Had the driver not been in such a rush to get past me, this could have been avoided,” he said. He came to the march not only because of his personal experience, but because street safety is “a lot bigger than me.”

Norma Silva came down from Yonkers, where she’s a member of the local bike club. She knows people who’ve been struck and injured, and she hopes to “do something up in Yonkers,” which currently has no on-street bike lanes despite being the fourth-largest municipality in the state.

Jessica Hollingworth, struck by a driver turning left at Third Street and Fifth Avenue in Park Slope last summer, has a metal plate and six pins her leg. She spent three months on crutches, but the driver did not receive a ticket, she said, even though witnesses and NYPD’s own crash report said he failed to yield to her in the crosswalk. “I want people to understand that pedestrians have the right of way,” she said.

  • J

    Great to see NYC activists changing hearts and minds! Seems like the city council is starting to understand the importance of this issue. Keep that momentum up and you’ll see better progress at DOT, NYPD and the DA offices.

  • Pat

    im not against enforcing the law, but shouldn’t it be enforced for pedestrians also?
    a big vision zero selling point was that it works in sweden. look up driving test in sweden and see how seriously they take it. if we had driving test requirements half as hard, we would have much better drivers, more aware pedestrians, and less accidents

  • Andrew

    im not against enforcing the law, but shouldn’t it be enforced for pedestrians also?

    It already is. Any pedestrian who breaks the law in such a way that a pedestrian is killed is subject to the death penalty.

    To put it less flippantly, any enforcement action against people who at worst endanger their own lives is wasting resources that could be used against people who endanger other people’s lives.

  • AnoNYC

    The problem with targeting pedestrians is that the current configuration of our streets requires one to jaywalk in order to get around efficiently.

    Let’s cut our long blocks in half with mid-block crosswalks and banish this jaywalking terminology. Let’s pedestrianize more of our city streets. Let’s widen sidewalks and reduce crossing distances. Let’s daylight intersections. Let’s reduce automotive volume with congestion pricing and parking reforms.

    In the end though it seems that driver error is responsible for the majority of traffic deaths and injuries. These collisions are mostly occurring at intersections when pedestrians have the right away. Seniors and children are especially at risk. Targeting jaywalking will have a miniscule effect on death and serious injuries (as some precincts have decided to focus on).

  • Pat

    i must have read different accounts. the pedestrians were at fault in many instances.
    lowering the speed limit is fine, but enforcing the law should apply to all and not be “targeted” at anyone.

  • Pat

    wow. your “less flippant” answer is still pretty flippant.
    if the point of the targeted enforcement is to save lives, than enforcing the law on pedestrians makes as much sense as enforcing more diligently on drivers. what percentage of deaths occurred in such a way that either the driver or the pedestrian was completely at fault?

  • Andrew

    if the point of the targeted enforcement is to save lives, than enforcing the law on pedestrians makes as much sense as enforcing more diligently on drivers.

    No it doesn’t, because the vast majority of fatalities are caused by motorists who take risks with other people’s lives, not with pedestrians who take risks with their own.

    what percentage of deaths occurred in such a way that either the driver or the pedestrian was completely at fault?

    53% of fatalities are caused solely by dangerous choices on the part of drivers while only 30% were caused solely by dangerous choices on the part of pedestrians – assuming the statistics gathered by the NYPD are accurate. Given that the NYPD is generally happy to take the word of the driver as gospel, without independent verification. I suspect that the actual numbers are well above 53% and well below 30%.

    I am a pedestrian. I have control over where and when and how I cross the street. Sometimes I cross legally and sometimes I cross illegally, but I always cross safely (it is often safer to cross illegally than legally – e.g., against the light when no traffic is approaching vs. with the light while traffic is turning), and if I don’t, then I’m the one who suffers the consequences. But I also suffer the consequences if a driver decides to take unnecessary risks with my life, for instance by speeding or by failing to yield or by running a red light. I encounter this sort of selfish behavior every single day, multiple times per day. I can be the most cautious person in the world, but if I happen to be standing in the wrong place when a selfish driver takes a safety shortcut in order to perhaps save a few seconds, I’m the one who ends up dead.

    Without any police enforcement, I have every incentive to walk in a manner that protects my life. What incentive do motorists have to drive in a manner that also protects my life?

  • Andrew

    i must have read different accounts. the pedestrians were at fault in many instances.

    Here is a list of 2015 traffic fatalities to date. In how many instances do you think the pedestrian, but not the motorist, was at fault?

    lowering the speed limit is fine, but enforcing the law should apply to all and not be “targeted” at anyone.

    On the contrary, law enforcement should be directed where it will save lives. Whenever the police are busy ticketing a pedestrian for doing something that might or might not have endangered his own life and nobody else’s, they aren’t busy ticketing a motorist for doing something that endangers my life and the lives of my friends, family, and neighbors.

  • Joe R.

    No pedestrian ever caused a motorist to die. At worst pedestrians risk their own neck. It’s not the government’s place to protect people from themselves. Also, it’s frankly insulting in a pedestrian-oriented city that people should be ticketed for crossing a street in a way which may be safer than the legally sanctioned way. If motor vehicles didn’t exist then people could safely cross streets all the time. The so-called jaywalking laws really exist primarily for the convenience of motorists to go fast whenever they have a green light. A sane city would prioritize foot and bike traffic over motor vehicles all the time.

  • Joe R.

    If you also consider crossing against the light as jaywalking then this is yet another area where our street configurations encourage jaywalking. How long would it take to get around if people crossed only legally (i.e. only entered the crosswalk on a walk signal)? Some intersections only have a few seconds of walk signal per light cycle. That implies many people might be waiting 45, 60, or 90 seconds at every block. This would double or triple the time it takes to walk anywhere, just as strictly obeying traffic signals greatly increases the time it takes to bike. It’s impractical, and it’s also insulting, to enforce jaywalking laws.

  • Eric Darcman

    Traffic violence? Wow! Talk about hyperbolic slogan!

  • luis laura

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  • bolwerk

    The point of “targeted” enforcement is at least to raise money, maybe to shake pig dick around.

    If they cared about our lives, motor vehicle traffic would be minimized or eliminated on streets used by people on foot. If they cared about our lives, high-profile “targeted” enforcements, jaywalking or not, wouldn’t frequently be accompanied by verifiable allegations of police brutality.

  • Andrew

    The term appears in academic literature at least as far back as 1992.

    It’s not hyperbolic (nor is it a slogan). Violence is certainly the term that comes to mind when a driver launches a motor vehicle directly at me in order to persuade me to give up my legal right of way so that he can maybe save a few seconds.

  • Eric Darcman

    I doubt anyone launched anything at you!

  • Eric Darcman

    It’s more likely your a person with a very broad space sense of personal space and a car got within that space.

  • bolwerk

    Have you ever been to a human settlement larger than a rural village? Drivers disregard pedestrian ROW so often that most of us just shrug and think nothing more of it. It’s normalized.

  • Pat

    deblasio should be instructing the police to enforce the laws that keep people safe.
    like speeding or jaywalking.

  • Pat

    so wouldn’t stopping people from jaywalking save lives also?

  • Joe R.

    Except for the fact that jaywalking laws don’t keep people safe. I find it’s usually safer to cross against the light or midblock. Also, if you wait for a walk signal at every intersection it’ll take you 2 or 3 times as long to get where you’re going. This is a case where the law should be changed to only allow ticketing if the pedestrian crossed right in front of a moving vehicle. If the street is empty, giving a ticket serves no safety or other purpose.

  • Pat

    in your fairy-tale land, is it ok to speed if there is nobody around?
    or go through lights?, you will get there 2 or 3 times faster.

  • Pat

    i’m confused, they shouldn’t be writing tickets?

  • Joe R.

    Yes, speeding on empty roads is usually harmless if we’re talking about going 10 or 15 mph over what is usually an improperly set legislated speed limit. As for going through red lights, that depends upon lines of sight and how much caution you exercise. On a bike you can safely pass most red lights if you look both ways, and reduce your speed to 5 to 10 mph, dependent upon lines of sight. In a motor vehicle you might need to completely stop. Or you might lack the lines of sight to safely pass a red light at all. My default position is it’s almost always safe for a pedestrian or cyclist to go through red lights but motor vehicles probably should rarely or never do so. Their poor visibility, plus greater potential for harm if they misjudge the situation, makes it prudent to stop.

    The best solution if NYC really cares about pedestrian lives is to just remove motor vehicles from areas with heavy pedestrian activity.

  • bolwerk

    Not for show. Plus doing it for a non-specific, victimless, and likely fabricated offense like jaywalking just sows resentment.

    I’m really not very fond of it being used to solve motor vehicle traffic problems either because it’s no alternative for good road design. But at least fining traffic infractions by motor vehicles is actually rationally related to a risk of injuring someone else.

  • Pat

    thanks for the link, i will look at it.
    i disagree with your logic on not ticketing jaywalkers. i’m not suggesting they stop everything else. should they stop writing parking tickets?

  • Pat

    ” What incentive do motorists have to drive in a manner that also protects my life?”
    other than responsibility? well, the enforcement that i already told you i was not against.
    30% is a lot. wouldn’t it be nice if some of those were stopped?
    i’m pretty surprised its that high.
    why are you against ticketing pedestrian when so many get killed?

  • Pat

    likely fabricated?
    whatever dude.

  • Pat

    ummmm.
    i was being sarcastic. we live in a society and need laws and law enforcement, regardless of whether we think the laws are stupid.
    i’m just saying, if nypd is being told to enforce certain laws in order to better protect pedestrians, they should be instructed to enforce the pedestrian laws also.

  • bolwerk

    “whatever dude” = “hurr, I’m offended, time to stop thinking”

  • Joe R.

    If the laws are stupid they need to be changed rather than enforced. Also, the police lack the manpower to enforce all of the laws all of the time. By definition they have to selectively enforce laws. We should enforce laws which result in the biggest bang for the buck in terms of safety. In my opinion those would be aggressive and distracted driving, with speeding a distant third. I only favor enforcing jaywalking laws if a person is actually impeding traffic.

  • Pat

    i didn’t say enforce all laws all the time.

    i said ” if nypd is being told to enforce certain laws in order to better protect pedestrians, they should be instructed to enforce the pedestrian laws also.”

    i mean the pedestrian laws that protect pedestrians and contribute to keeping the roads safe.
    also, meaning- in addition to enforcing the vehicle laws.
    the laws against jay walking are not stupid. jaywalking kills people and makes the roads unsafe.
    why are you against ticketing pedestrians who jaywalk, because you jaywalk?
    so do i, but if i get a ticket for it, i deserve it..

  • Pat

    i think its past your bedtime.

  • Joe R.

    I’m against ticketing for harmless but technical violations of the law. If someone is jaywalking right in front of a moving vehicle, yes, ticket them because they’re creating a hazardous situation for themselves and possibly others if the driver swerves to avoid them. If they’re crossing against a red light at an empty intersection, a ticket serves no safety or other valid purpose. Remember the law is a means to an end, not an end unto itself. That in turn means using discretion. I even support such discretion for motorists. Speeding a little on an empty street probably deserves a free pass. Doing the same when lots of people are around certainly merits a ticket. So yes, I’m all for enforcing jaywalking laws if it’s done very selectively, and only in cases where there is a real hazard. Under those conditions, I know I would never get a jaywalking ticket, and you probably wouldn’t, either.

  • ahwr

    should they stop writing parking tickets

    Parking tickets generally aren’t sold as improving safety, are they? A better analog might be the 70k or so safety belt violations through October.

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/traffic_data/mv-en-us-citysum.pdf

  • JoshNY

    Well, to take one example, the pedestrians have not been at all at fault in the recent spate of curb-jumping deaths.

  • JoshNY

    Press conferences are free. Let’s see if he actually does anything.

  • bolwerk

    Thank you for reaffirming my point, sir.

  • Pat

    are you suggesting that targeting motorists for speeding and failure to yield (which i am not against) would have prevented those accidents?

  • Pat

    i was referring to the remark that writing pedestrian tickets would hinder writing motorist tickets because of the time spent on it.

  • Pat

    i hope you slept well

  • bolwerk

    It’s called opportunity cost. An officer focusing on writing tickets to pedestrians is foregoing an opportunity to focus on behavior that is orders of magnitude more dangerous. Feel free to agree or disagree with Andrew’s prescription, but that point is practically axiomatic.

  • Pat

    So should they stop writing all tickets except speeding and failure to yield?
    Feel free to open your mind to different perspectives, and reply with a condescending remark.

  • JudenChino

    Fuck off

  • bolwerk

    A condescending, thought stopping remark like “whatever dude”?

    Yes, I don’t think people should be snowed for walking on their own streets. If you think a ticket should be written for a pedestrian, I want to see a better reason than opportunistic paternalism. I know a lot of authoritarians disagree with me.

  • setecq

    what does targeting pedestrians have to do with a harder test for motorists? sure, let’s make the test harder or require re-licensing.

  • Pat

    im sorry, i don’t understand where that’s coming from.

  • setecq

    sorry, I see you’ve left quite a lot of comments here. you said: “im not against enforcing the law, but shouldn’t it be enforced for pedestrians also?a big vision zero selling point was that it works in sweden. look up driving test in sweden and see how seriously they take it. if we had driving test requirements half as hard, we would have much better drivers, more aware pedestrians, and less accidents”

    you mention 2 totally unrelated things. does Sweden’s implementation of Vision Zero have anything to do with targeting pedestrians?

  • Pat

    I’m flattered, you read my stuff.
    I also want to see a better reason than opportunistic paternalism, so we agree on that. that’s nice.

  • Pat

    Haaaaa.
    Loser

  • Closing this thread and deleting some of the pointless back and forth comments.

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