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Bill de Blasio

De Blasio Says He’s Fully Funding Vision Zero Priority Projects. He Isn’t.

Despite what Mayor de Blasio says, NYC is not funding street redesigns at the rate prescribed by Vision Zero.
Despite what Mayor de Blasio says, NYC is not funding street redesigns at the rate prescribed by Vision Zero. Image: Transportation Alternatives

On his weekly Brian Lehrer show appearance this morning, Mayor de Blasio said the city is fully funding Vision Zero street redesigns. The numbers tell a different story.

During the Q&A segment, Families for Safe Streets member Mary Beth Kelly told de Blasio 204 people walking and biking have been killed by drivers on Vision Zero priority corridors since January 2015, and that only a fourth of those corridors have received redesign treatments. Kelly asked the mayor to commit to speeding up funding for Vision Zero priority projects.

Here is de Blasio's response in full:

I appreciate the question very much and I appreciate the work that you do and your colleagues do because it’s been decisive to Vision Zero, particularly in terms of the fights you’ve waged in Albany to get us things like the speed cameras around schools. And we want to do even more of that, and I’m very hopeful there is a Democratic Senate. There’ll be a willingness to go farther with us in protecting kids and seniors and implementing Vision Zero.

We are very aggressively moving those safety redesign efforts. There’s no lack of funding, and there’s no lack of will. And you know Queens Boulevard is a huge example of this, a place we used call the ‘Boulevard of Death’ and thank god we have not fatalities the last two years because we’re doing redesign, because of bike lanes, because of the reduction in speed limit, because we’re enforcing the speed limit with the NYPD. So we’re very, very adamant about moving these as quickly as possible. I’ll talk to Commissioner Trottenberg to see if there’s anything else that she needs to continue to speed things up, but she’s gotten the order from me to do everything as quickly as humanly possible.

We will also be doing more enforcement. The NYPD is continuing to ratchet up enforcement on speeding and on failure to yield, and you’re going to see more checkpoints as well to inhibit drunk driving. So there’s a lot of Vision Zero pieces that are going to be growing, and the redesigns are absolutely a priority.

Budget figures don’t back up the mayor’s claims. As Streetsblog has reported, last spring Transportation Alternatives found that at the current rate of funding it will take almost 40 years to redesign the priority corridors identified in the DOT’s pedestrian safety action plans -- a timetable that stretches decades beyond the Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024.

After TA released its analysis and called on officials to act, the City Council recommended increasing the DOT budget for quick-to-implement "operational" projects by about 25 percent. The council also proposed $250 million in annual capital funding for redesign projects. De Blasio declined to follow the council’s recommendations.

Yesterday Families for Safe Streets and TA rallied on the steps of City Hall to urge de Blasio to ramp up street safety funding, after two children were killed last week by reckless drivers in Queens. The mayor says he's doing everything he can, but his budget says otherwise.

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