Bratton on NYC’s Vision Zero Goal: “It Will Probably Remain Elusive”

If New York City hopes to achieve Vision Zero, it probably won’t happen on Police Commissioner Bill Bratton’s watch.

Bratton kicked off the Vision Zero Cities conference, happening today and tomorrow at NYU, with a big helping of complacency.

“You’re not going to get to zero,” Bratton said at a morning question and answer session with former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson. Though it’s a nice goal to aspire to, said Bratton, “the reality [is] it will probably remain elusive.”

Something else New York won’t be doing while Bratton heads NYPD is increasing the number of crash investigators. Abramson, who was hit by a truck driver in a 2007 crash that police did not investigate, noted that drivers caused 3,500 serious injuries last year, and that the Collision Investigation Squad worked only about 10 percent of those cases. She twice asked Bratton if he intended to beef up CIS.

“We have many priorities,” said Bratton, who cited terrorism, “traditional crime,” and a lack of available officers as obstacles to boosting CIS personnel. Instead, Bratton said, existing CIS staff is handling more crashes, not just those where victims die or are deemed “likely to die.”

Bratton said the Highway Division will get 100 additional officers, but they won’t be assigned to CIS.

Bratton told Abramson NYPD is charging more motorists under the Right of Way Law, which he said took effect in May 2015 (it was actually August 2014). Since that time police have charged only a few dozen drivers for injuring and killing victims who were walking and biking with the right of way.

“Everything new takes a while to get ramped up,” Bratton said.

When Bratton’s repeated use of the word “accident” brought shouts of “crash” from the packed room, Abramson asked him if he considers traffic crashes to be accidents. Bratton said it’s a matter of preferred nomenclature.

“Call them whatever you want,” said Bratton. “Right now we classify them as accidents.” Bratton later clarified that incidents when police can show intent or violation of criminal law are not considered accidents.

Bratton noted that while pedestrian deaths are up nationwide, fatalities in New York City are on the decline, despite the fact that so many New Yorkers walk around staring at their phones.

  • John

    In other words, Bratton has decided he’s not going to help Vision Zero become a reality.

  • I hate to say it, but Mayor deBlasio seems to be captivated by his NYPD Commissioner’s swingin’ baloney, and its costing lives.

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Why was he even invited to speak at the conference? It was no secret that he does not take Vision Zero seriously beforehand.

  • JK

    Did Bratton really say nothing, nada, zilch that was encouraging? Zero to be encouraged about from NYPD?

  • Jules1

    This is pathetic. Get a new police commissioner or put NYCDOT in charge of traffic enforcement.

  • Joe R.

    I’ll qualify his response:

    You’re not going to get to zero as long as you continue to allow motor vehicles on the same streets as pedestrians and cyclists.

    That should make clear exactly what we need to do next.

  • steely

    Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  • c2check

    I think the NYPD officers already have a poor view of the Mayor, and sacking the Commish would, quite unfortunately, not help that—unless he had a great replacement lined up…

  • c2check

    Didn’t they just decide to add 1,000 new officers…?

  • Maggie

    How embarrassing is this? Showing up and shrugging off seniors’ deaths as accidents?

    By the way, condolences to Commissioner Bratton on the death of his father. This must be a difficult time, the close of a dear family member’s life well lived.

    Still, New York City is paying the price for a police commissioner who doesn’t take these threats as manageable.

  • HamTech87

    Bratton really needs to be sentenced to a week of life without his giant black Escalade. His brief jaunt into a subway station was an eye-opener for him — look how crowded it is! Such an experience walking and cycling the streets of New York might give him a reality-check to speeding, inattentive, and crosswalk-muscling motorists.

  • HamTech87

    “Call them whatever you want,” said Bratton. “Right now we classify them as accidents.”
    Isn’t this why for CIS, the C is for collision, not “accident”?

  • AnoNYC

    Yeah, but to harass black and Hispanic young men.

  • AnoNYC

    For some odd reason, the NYPD does not consider traffic death and injury a threat to public safety. “Not our problem.”

  • Brian Howald

    I’ll give him credit. He walked into a room full of people who find his answers disappointing, disgusting, insulting, etc, and just said them flat out. He either doesn’t care about the goals and concerns of the safe streets movement or he’s oblivious to them. When I attend community meetings where NYPD brass merely pay lip service to Vision Zero and enforcing traffic laws, I have to say I’m more offended by their duplicity.

    The NYPD started using collision to refer to crashes several years ago, so I’m not sure what he means by “[r]ight now we classify them as accidents.”

    Was there any attempt to convey to him that he is significantly behind the times, even compared to his predecessor, Ray Kelly? I know they get into occasional pissing matches, and maybe there’s value in exploiting that.

  • AnoNYC

    Eliminating death on the street is possible if you enforce the damn rules of the road. Drivers in New York City do as they please.

    Albany seriously needs to allow New York City to place as many traffic enforcement cameras as necessary because the NYPD is not capable of performing and never will be comparable.

    If this city was covered in cameras, drivers would actually drive with concern here.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    The root cause of NYPD complancy about traffic violence is the simple fact that they live in their cars. They drive to their precincts from home, then they drive from their precint to their station, then they return to their precint driving yet again. it’s obessively a windshield perspective. They drive even when it’s faster to walk.

    If one got rid of 7/& of NYPD cars in Manhattan and they had to get around like regular New Yorkers, NYPD attitudes would change PDQ.

  • Brad Aaron

    There was one thing that didn’t get into the story because I need to follow up on it. If I understood correctly Bratton said NYPD crash data mapping would have the same detail as the CompStat 2.0 map.

    He mentioned it almost in passing and there were no other details, but it sounded promising.

  • J

    What a pathetic excuse for a leader.

  • Visionwhat?

    This is awesome- finally someone with common sense who doesn’t waste their life hawking some ridiculous “vision zero” agenda.
    Any of you who think that it’s actually possible to achieve should really have your head checked. You’re a complete idiot. It’s disgusting that there’s even a conference dedicated to this nonsense. And who’s paying for it? Taxpayers.

  • Bluewndrpwrmlk96

    What’s disgusting is our NYPD Commissioner failing to see this as a serious quality of life issue, not even acknowledging a “crash” as proper nomenclature, nor assigning more CIS, or even bothering to investigate in some cases, blaming anyone other than the motorist.

    And who’s paying for it? Taxpayers.

  • Joe R.

    It can be achieved one of two ways. Either stop allowing motor vehicles on the same streets as pedestrians and cyclists, or go to self-driving cars. The latter is probably happening anyway. If it doesn’t happen relatively soon then we could implement the former. Hamburg already has plans for a car-free city by 2030.

  • ocschwar

    Whatever you say, officer. clearly you have no interest in doing your job.

  • Maggie

    Did Bratton bring up pedestrians and phones? It’s hard to tell from how this is written.

  • JudenChino

    I really thought Ray Kelly was such a piece of shit (especially given his political aspirations driving his policies) but man, Bratton really does give him a run for his money.

    If only BdB weren’t scared to death of the police unions, I’d wish he’d appoint Eric Adams (though perhaps he’s threatened by his rising star but it’s not like BdB’s getting re-elected anyway).

  • c2check

    We should probably stop researching cancer since it will never be 100% eradicated. TAXPAYER THEFT!

  • c2check

    It would be more impressive if he said flat out that driver convenience is more important than safety, because that is the implication.

  • c2check

    I saw a NYPD squad car drive through Maria Hernandez park yesterday evening.
    Like would it kill them to patrol on foot? Maybe that would improve their effectiveness, actually learning what’s going on on the streets.

  • fdtutf

    And who’s paying for it? Taxpayers.

    To say nothing of the people who are paying for it with their lives.

  • Seth Rosenblum

    I think it gets clearer every day that personnel enforcement won’t ever get us to vision zero. It’s going to mostly be good street design combined with some automated enforcement. In this case it’s police culture eating BdB’s policy for breakfast.

  • Brad Aaron

    He brought it up unsolicited.

  • Joe R.

    I’ve long wondered why vehicular homicides don’t count in CompStat statistics. After all, if someone accidentally discharged a gun on a crowded street, killing some, it would still count as involuntary manslaughter. There are rare instances where a driver truly is blameless for a death but in most cases they’re at least partially culpable.

  • Kwyjibo

    Yeah, what a guy. Taking a stand to do jack shit while kids die.

    Got news for you. This is bigger than Bratton, and you. And you will lose.

    Back under your rock now.

  • So…vampire?

  • AnoNYC

    Do we really even want them walking through our communities…

  • I swear there’s a little bit of Trump bravado in that guy.

  • Seattleite in Seattle

    Vision Zero is a great goal.
    Don’t sweat it if it can’t be achieved perfectly.
    It’s still huge gain.

  • Seattleite in Seattle

    Why do you characterize it that way?
    Why is it important to you that it by “ZERO” as opposed to “a whole lot better”?

  • Visionwhat?

    I’ll lose – no, you have already lost. The fact that you are dumb enough to actually believe that “vision 0” is achievable and people even care about tells me what a loser you are. You’re probably sitting on your lazy ass waiting for Bernie sanders to give you everything for free!

  • AnoNYC

    I’ll just leave this here (circa 2015):

    There Have Been 38,000 Hit-and-Runs in New York City This Year

    The NYPD has no control.

  • Ollie Oliver

    If you don’t like the number zero, you’re implying that there is some number of acceptable deaths as a cost of doing business. No matter how small that number is it’s too high if any of those lives belong to my neighbors friends or family. I don’t want anyone to lose their life so someone’s commute could be a little bit shorter.

  • Seattleite in Seattle

    Sounds appealing but we don’t aim for Zero in anything.
    Ya wanna believe it otherwise?
    Knock yourself out.

  • Maggie


    ask FDNY their annual target for people dying in fires

    ask MADD their annual goal for road deaths caused by drunk driving

    ask Bratton his annual goal for deaths due to domestic violence

    The whole point is that each one is too many. That’s why Vision Zero

  • Ollie Oliver

    We don’t aim for zero in anything except child labor, small pox, starving people, new aids patients, cholera etc.

    We’ve done a better job with some of these than others. But throwing up our hands because “it’s hard” is unacceptable for any of these causes including Vision Zero.

  • Joe R.

    Think of this way–if you aim for the stars you might hit Mars. If you aim for low Earth orbit you’ll probably end up in the toilet.

  • rao

    I do, if only because it would be safer if they were texting and walking rather than texting and driving as many of them do now.

  • JamesR

    You couldn’t be more wrong, troll. We are moving in the right direction and will continue to do so despite the roadblocks put up by Bratton and company (i.e. your ilk). Do you even live in NYC? Do you have legs, and utilize crosswalks and sidewalks? Then this is your fight too, you just don’t know it.

  • It raises the question of who’s in charge here. Is it the elected mayor, or is it the thugs who have this mayor paralysed by fear of what they might do if displeased? It ain’t the mayor.

    Without absolving the mayor of his responsibility for enabling the tin-pot dictator Bratton, we have to acknowledge that his fears are not entirely unreasonable. Recall the Giuliani-led police rally against Dinkins by which those terrorists closed down the Brooklyn Bridge.

  • neroden

    Bratton can be fired by de Blasio at any time. Why hasn’t he been fired yet?

    In fact, both the mayor and the city council have the power of arrest and can *arrest* Bratton for conspiracy if they really wanted to make a point. The evidence is getting overwhelming that Bratton is part of a criminal conspiracy to let killers go free.

  • neroden

    A large number of the NYPD officers at high levels (not the rank and file, the precinct captains and their bosses) have already been proven to be career criminals, enforcing illegal arrest & ticket quotas and deliberately encouraging harassment of innocent people.

    NYPD needs a police commissioner who will start arresting these career criminals in the NYPD and throwing them in prison. If the criminal head of the FOP complains, throw *him* in prison too; he’s already committed enough provable crimes.

    Job #1 for any new police commissioner is cleaning up their own house, which is going to involve arresting a lot of top-level police brass.

    The crooks in the NYPD don’t like the mayor? He’s their boss. They don’t have to like him. They can quit.


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