De Blasio has 'Vision Zero' on ped deaths
Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio unveiled a pedestrian safety plan Wednesday that envisions a city with zero traffic fatalities.
Pedestrian deaths have fallen steeply because of the Bloomberg administration's traffic plan, which addedslower speed zones and created more space for pedestrians. But de Blasio said the danger from automobiles is "ever-present."
"We still see tragedy in the headlines almost every day," de Blasio, a Democrat, said in a statement. "It's time for us all to agree as a city that even one death on our streets is unacceptable."
De Blasio's plan calls for expanding Bloomberg's residential 20-miles-per-hour zones to 52 from 14 in his first term; adding safety improvements to 50 intersections and corridors; focusing the NYPD on enforcing speed laws and drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians; and get control of traffic cameras in the city, which the state currently handles.
Noah Budnick, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, said de Blasio's comprehensive plan was a sign that mayoral candidates are making safe streets a top campaign issue.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has called for reducing traffic fatalities by 2021 by bringing speed cameras and NYPD officers to high-fatality locations and establishing a task force with the Department of Transportation, NYPD and other agencies. Anthony Weiner has proposed holding cars at a red light so only pedestrians can cross an intersection in any direction.
"We've reached a point where you can't run for mayor without having a traffic safety plan," Budnick said. "Every single person in New York City is affected every single day on safe streets."
Biking advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, meanwhile, rallied at City Hall Wednesday calling on the candidates to release their traffic plans amid a spate of traffic deaths.
According to the group, there have been 21 traffic deaths since July, including 16-year-old Renee Thompson, who was killed last week by a tractor-trailer on Third Avenue and East 60th Street while walking home. Her family joined the rally. In 2012, 274 people were killed in traffic.
"We can't stop the work to make the street safer," Budnick said. "All traffic deaths are preventable."
He said he wants the next mayor to use data to target the most dangerous places for pedestrians in New York and crack down on drivers who fail to yield, among the most common cause of traffic fatalities. He cited NYPD's use of CompStat to better target areas where crime spikes.
"It's time to bring these proven strategies to traffic enforcement," he said.
Scott Gastel, a DOT spokesman, said neighborhoods are clamoring for pedestrian friendly initiatives such has residential slow zones, speed bumps and bike lanes.
"Our safety enhancements are gaining popularity as they continue to be installed," Gastel said.