Wednesday’s Headlines: Reckless Drivers Are Everywhere Edition

Let’s talk about reckless drivers for a second. New York City speed cameras — which, remember, only operate at 140 schools, and only during school hours — caught millions of scofflaws over the last five years. But in 2017, 25,881 drivers received five or more tickets from a speed camera. Those are seriously reckless drivers.

You’d think it would be easy to get them off the roads by impounding the tools of their potential violence — like, say, taking a gun away from someone with multiple assault convictions. Council Member Brad Lander has a bill to do just that, but it’s stalled until the state legislature finally resolves the reauthorization of city speed cameras, which are currently legal thanks to an emergency declaration by the governor, as amNY‘s Vin Barone pointed out.

Activists lobbied hard for it yesterday.

Here’s the rest of the day’s news:

  • One day after Mayor de Blasio was pilloried for not showing enough support for congestion pricing in Albany, a millionaire went to the state capital and pleaded for de Blasio’s pet cause: the millionaire’s tax. (Can’t we have both?) (NY Times)
  • So, a de Blasio administration panel is recommending taking school safety away from the NYPD and giving it to the Department of Education. That’s a good start, but next we need to shear off traffic enforcement and give that to the DOT. Please, Mr. Mayor? (NY Post)
  • City Lab made the powerful case — again! — that safety and equity are inexorably linked in cities hoping to improve their cycling infrastructure.
  • Boy, the Post loves mocking de Blasio. But, then again, so does Harvard! (NY Post)
  • On the Ruben Diaz homophobia front, Politico’s dynamic duo of Dana Rubinstein and Sally Goldenberg report that there’s talk of simply dissolving the taxi committee that Diaz currently chairs, which is a good idea, given what a lousy job he’s done with that committee anyway.
  • We were happy to see Council Member Ritchie Torres finally discussing safety on Morris Park Avenue yesterday — especially given how last year, he signed onto a strongly worded letter demanding that the city halt its plan to, um, increase safety on Morris Park Avenue. Let’s hope Torres has finally seen the light.
  • Gothamist reported on a proposal to link Greenpoint and Long Island City with a bike-and-pedstrian-only wooden bridge that sounds like the greatest thing ever.
  • In case you missed it, the Daily News editorial board followed our Monday scoop with a decree supporting Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s slate of bills to curtail placard abuse. The editorial even ended with a timely jibe: “Good going, speaker,” the paper opined. “If this is what it’s like to be ‘controlled by the homosexual community,’ as Councilman Rubén Díaz disgustingly put it, more, please.” (But we differ with the same writers in their editorial a day earlier calling for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to be rebuilt instead of torn down. People who favor human-scale roadways were dismissed as “blithe critics who think the city can just do without the vital connector.” OK, so we’re blithe!)
  • Also, in case you missed it, Inside Edition (yes, that’s still a thing) did a superficial look at fare-beaters in New York City, calling fare evasion an “epidemic,” though citing little beyond anecdotal evidence. Still, it’s a fascinating two-minute video.
  • This doesn’t bode well for autonomous cars: a New Jersey driver said his Tesla auto-pilot drove like, well, a New Jersey driver. (Gothamist)
  • Friend of Streetsblog Todd Schneider sent over his new heat map showing the locations of all the motor vehicle crashes since 2012. Poke around and see what a killing field New York City really is.
  • And, finally, what’s with that New York Times explainer on snow tires? Really? (In fairness, did you know that “Winter tires are engineered with softer compounds to remain flexible at far lower temperatures”?)
  • Joe R.

    Am I reading this right on the crash mapper—1,367,599 collisions in about 6.5 years???? That’s about 210,000 annually, about 575 daily. If cars collide this often why are we even still using them? I had no idea of the number of collisions but I was thinking maybe it’s in the low double digits daily, at worst. I take back my opinion that upwards of 75% of people can’t safely operate a motor vehicle. Now I think that number is closer to 95%. Self-driving cars can’t come soon enough.

  • qrt145

    One way of looking at it, since 1.3 million is close enough to the number of car-owning households in NYC, is that there is one collision per car-owning household every roughly 6.5 years! (Of course many cars being driven come from outside the city or are commercial vehicles, so the actual frequency for household drivers would be lower.) Most reported collisions are minor fender-benders, though (about 99.9% are non-fatal collisions), which I think explains why people put up with them.

  • joyauto

    Doing 36 when the speed limit was 30 was considered reasonable. Then the city dropped the speed limit to 25 and now doing 36 makes you a reckless driver. And that’s the only reason the speed limit was lowered; to create a whole new breed of speeders that can be ticketed. It’s always about the money!

  • qrt145

    Smoking used to be considered reasonable too. And asbestos used to be considered a wonder material: cheap, resistant to fire and chemicals, and with great insulating properties! Yet what’s considered reasonable changes when we learn more facts or values change. A fact is that speed greatly correlates with the risk of killing a person on the street. A value change is that 200+ such deaths a year are no longer considered acceptable.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I owned a car from 1992 to early 2018, and had no crashes.
    I expect many other people had no crashes. Take people like me out of the data, and that average is much higher for those who those who get in crashes.
    But I get the feeling my chances of getting in a fender bender is going up. Twice now I’ve tried to rent a full size sedan for four of us to go Upstate, and ended up with a monster SUV as an “upgrade.” Can’t even get a sedan anymore.

  • Larry Littlefield

    California’s Democratic Governor: sorry, we can’t afford the future because the present costs so much. And future Californians will be paying for it the rest of their lives.

    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/los-angelestosan-francisco-high-speed-rail-project-abandoned-by-new-governor-2019-02-12

    It’s bi-partisan. Thus the whole tribalism thing.

  • kevd

    Owning and selling other human beings was considered reasonable too.
    So was bleeding people to cure disease.
    What was once considered reasonable is not necessarily a good guide for sound public policy today.

  • Joe R.

    My guess is if we got rid of assigned risk pools, basically making driving cost prohibitive for the worst 25% of drivers, combined with strict laws against driving uninsured, crash rates might drop an order of magnitude. I know people who have the same story as you. They drove for decades, and maybe at worst got into one or 2 crashes. And then I’ve known others who get in 3 or 4 crashes a year.

    Same thing with bikes. Some cyclists constantly have crashes. I fell last October. No serious injuries. First fall in over 22 years. I forgot when the one before that was, but I’d say it was close to a decade before. Most of my crashes were in my first few years of cycling but even thing it probably averaged less than one a year. After 5 years they started getting less frequent. After ten years or so I almost never crashed.

  • Joe R.

    Correction: speed plus another factor which causes a crash greatly correlates with killing a person on a street. If you’re staring at your phone while driving, I’d much rather that you be traveling at 20 mph instead of 36 mph because when the inevitable crash happens, the consequences will be lower. On the flip side, if you’re a great driver who never crashes, speed is moot.

    Also, if moving motor vehicles along at speed was a societal goal, it is possible to design streets which do exactly that, while also protecting vulnerable users, by employing separation, preferably complete separation. Of course, there are good reasons for not doing this like cost, plus the fact making motor vehicles faster makes them a more attractive choice.

  • Joe R.

    The cost for that is now up to $200 million/mile? Sheesh, they should be able to build it entirely in tunnels for that price, and avoid all the eminent domain and other NIMBY issues slowing it down. This just underscores how we need to get infrastructure costs under control in this country. HSR costs something like $20 million per double-tracked mile in Europe, unless you need lots of tunnels or viaducts.

  • joyauto

    Your analogies are ludicrous. Lowering the speed limit was an arbitrary decision based on increasing revenue. It had nothing to do with morals or even safety. The same goes for your beloved red light cameras. They are both money-grabs!

  • joyauto

    Read my reply to kevd. The same goes for your analogies. Notice they have banned smoking; they’re just taxing the hell out of it. It’s all about the money.

  • kevd

    That analogies simply show that what we used to think was reasonable, need not be what we now think is reasonable.
    reducing ped deaths is certainly a safety and moral goal, and reduced vehicular speed has accomplished that.

  • kevd

    “if moving motor vehicles along at speed was a societal goal”
    It is.
    And we have separated them.
    look at NYC’s highways and parkways. That’s the exact reason they exist.

  • kevd

    it was a non arbitrary decision based on reducing mortality and morbidity of humans on streets in NYC. And it has been very successful at furthering that goal.

  • Joe R.

    I meant moving them at speed everywhere. If we did that, we would end up with something like GMs “City of the Future”:

    https://mcnyblog.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/cars1.jpg

    Honestly, that looks pretty nice to me, cost aside. Pedestrians and bikes are above the autos, thus never need to interact with them at all. The downside, other than cost, is encouraging auto use in cities when alternatives like subways work much better.

  • joyauto

    Back up your claim. Cite the statistics. How many fewer children have been hit because of the lower speed limit?

  • kevd

    why only children?
    do we not care about adults killed and injured?

  • kevd

    Sure, we just have to re-build every single street, sidewalk and building in NYC. Shouldn’t be too difficult AT ALL.

    I could post a lot of lovely drawings of the glorious, totally not polluted or congested future that highways were supposed to bring too!

    I’ll huff whatever Joe is huffing!

  • Joe R.

    I didn’t say we should do something like this, only that we here should realize it’s possible for motor vehicles to not drive slowly without impeding the safety of everyone else with the proper infrastructure. I think it’s a stupid idea for the reasons you mentioned, plus the fact cars in a city are the least space efficient means of transport. On the other hand, a sparse network of elevated bike lanes, mainly over major arterials, is an idea that is relatively affordable and practical.

  • joyauto

    I thought it was all about the children. Isn’t that why the cameras are in school zones? Why don’t you cite some specifics to show how cameras have made the roads safer?

  • kevd

    Well, you thought wrong.
    it was only politically feasible to put cameras near schools – but I’m not sure if you noticed, the speed limit decreased city wide, not just by school and the following year traffic fatalities declined 10%.
    There were other Vision zero changes, before and subsequently. So, it would be impossible to attribute those 28 fewer dead people solely to the decreased speed limit.
    could you cite some figures that it is “all a money grab”?

  • It wasn’t arbitrary at all. It was based on finding a reasonable speed for traffic that would yield the highest survival rate if someone was struck by a car. http://www.humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm
    https://www.propublica.org/article/unsafe-at-many-speeds

  • joyauto

    More than 37,000 people died on U.S. roadways in 2016. The total,
    37,461, represents a 5.6 percent increase from 35,485 fatalities in
    2015. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    (NHTSA), fatalities related to distracted and drowsy driving declined,
    while deaths related to other behaviors such as speeding, alcohol
    impairment and not wearing seat belts increased.

    The number of passenger vehicle occupant and motorcyclist fatalities
    reached their highest levels since 2008, and bicyclist and pedestrian
    deaths continued a worrying rise, reaching levels not seen in nearly 30
    years.

  • kevd

    you know the US is not the same as NYC, right?

  • joyauto

    “Gov. Cuomo is playing another fast one on school-zone speed cameras: His
    plan to restore and expand the city’s successful program would .?.?.
    grab the ticket money for the MTA.” NY Post- Jan 2018