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Friday’s Headlines: Lies, Damn Lies and Streetsblog Edition

DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez tells drivers to slow down. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

On Thursday, as they do every year, the NYPD and the Department of Transportation announced its annual "Dusk to Darkness" campaign.

Before we criticize, let's praise it. An important tool in taming New York's reckless drivers is to continually educate them about just how reckless they are — they drive too fast and they don't pay attention. DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said it. Assembly Member Deborah Glick said it. Keith Kerman from the Department of Citywide Administrative Services said it (and quite eloquently, by the way).

When the clocks move backwards on Sunday, the city will start to get darker earlier — when kids are still out on the street. And more crashes happen then.

But part of the announcement included the regular promise from the NYPD to write more tickets to reckless drivers. This is part of the job of the DOT's essential "Vision Zero partner," but the agency has consistently shown over the past few years that it is not interested in doing it.

So we asked NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Kim Royster why total moving violations written by cops is down 42 percent from 2019 — and why failure-to-yield tickets are down 23 percent since March, after after the city announced a failure-to-yield crackdown.

She argued that the agency is "trending in the right direction." And after the presser, the NYPD immediately called us to argue that we are "cherry-picking" statistics. So let's see:

First, the NYPD has been writing fewer moving violation tickets in the last few years than it did at the start of Vision Zero. This is indisputable, as this chart from the NYPD's own data shows:

That said, the agency is correct that its enforcement is "trending in the right direction"; this year's numbers are, indeed, higher than last year's. But the total moving violations are still down 42 percent since the last pre-pandemic year of 2019 and they are down 46 percent from the first year of Vision Zero, 2014.

The NYPD also made a bold announcement in mid-January 2022 that it would dramatically increase its enforcement of failure-to-yield, which is the principal way in which drivers hurt and harass pedestrians. By its own measure, the agency is doing poorly. Yes the numbers are up (year to date) from last year, but since the January announcement, the agency's efforts have flagged after an initial burst of tickets (still fewer than two per precinct per day) in March:

Now, all of that is not to say that the NYPD is the only tool in the fight to rein in reckless drivers. But it is a tool that Mayor Adams loves to unsheath in other settings. Let's see if "Dusk to Darkness" is one of them. (FYI: Gothamist also covered the initiative.)

In other news from a super slow day:

  • We couldn't confirm it (Council Members Selvena Brooks-Powers nor Lincoln Restler got back to us), but this is BIG news (well, if true)!
  • Here's Cuozzo's take on the Penn Station crisis. (NY Post)
  • Lots of kids are dying on the streets, so amNY covered (we did, too).
  • What the hell is going to happen to the MTA if Lee Zeldin wins? (The City)

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