Rodriguez Backs Bill to Strengthen Legal Protections for People in Crosswalks

Momentum is building in the City Council for a bill to strengthen pedestrians’ right-of-way. Introduced by Public Advocate Tish James last week, Intro 997 picked up the support of Transportation Committee chair Ydanis Rodriguez today.

Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo: NYC Council
Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. Photo: NYC Council

The bill fixes a flawed city rule that says people should not start to cross the street at any point after the pedestrian signal begins flashing red. With the proliferation of countdown signals that start flashing early in the pedestrian crossing phase, at many intersections there’s very little time for people to step off the curb before their legal right to cross expires. Police and prosecutors have cited the rule when they avoid applying the city’s Right of Way Law to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

Under Intro 997, the rule would state that pedestrians in the crosswalk “shall have the right of way for the duration of the flashing cycle and vehicular traffic shall yield the right of way to all such pedestrians for as long as the signal remains flashing.”

Citing the 13 people who’ve been killed while walking in New York over the past two weeks, Rodriguez said in a statement that the bill “will fix an outdated traffic law that defends drivers in the event of a pedestrian accident, even if a crosswalk signal is still counting down.”

The current rule could be amended by the de Blasio administration without legislative action, but City Hall has not acted.

In addition to James and Rodriguez, there are currently four sponsors in the City Council: Margaret Chin, Debi Rose, Peter Koo, and Costa Constantinides.

A hearing on the bill is not yet scheduled. A spokesperson for Rodriguez said the transportation committee’s agenda for the next few months is currently being formulated.

  • R

    “The current rule could be amended by the de Blasio administration without legislative action, but City Hall has not acted.”

    Is there any explanation as to why this hasn’t been changed by City Hall?

  • Alex

    Say what you will about Vision Zero and its arguably inauspicious start…its mere existence as a goal and the farcical banality of the things in its way have led to more highly concentrated constituent activism and quicker (re)action than many of us thought possible even 2 years ago.

  • Good question. I guess politics. If City Hall does something by executive fiat, it’s open to criticism and can stoke opposition. If it’s done by legislation they can argue it’s the will of the people done through their duly elected leadership.

  • Kevin Love

    And Mr. de Blasio was not duly elected?

  • Geck

    Now how about some legislation rationalizing rule for bicycles: permitting right on red and to pass through T intersections (after yielding to pedestrians), and for bicycles to follow parallel pedestrian signals (leading pedestrian intervals,etc)

  • Matthias

    Thank you, Mr Rodriguez!

  • “vehicular traffic shall yield the right of way to all such pedestrians for as long as the signal remains flashing.”

    Once the light stops flashing then someone in the crosswalk is fair game?

  • Drivin’ Here!

    Yes

  • Motorisims

    Yes

  • Andrew

    No, motorists are always required to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, even when there’s no requirement to yield.

  • Motorisims

    What are you, some kind of anarchist?

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