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De Blasio proposes lowering NYC's speed limit to 25 mph

Bill de Blasio talks about the Vision Zero

Bill de Blasio talks about the Vision Zero Action Plan on February 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to lower the speed limit on city streets to 25 mph from 30 mph, use more cameras to catch speeders and red-light evaders and crack down on reckless taxi drivers to make New York safer for pedestrians.

Those are among 63 steps in de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative, a strategy with the goal of eliminating pedestrian deaths over the next decade. The Vision Zero approach has been successful in Sweden, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the administration said.

"We don't accept a status quo in this town that leads to so many people losing their lives who we could have saved," de Blasio said yesterday.

The mayor spoke at a news conference at P.S. 75 on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Within a one-block radius of the school, three pedestrians have been killed since January. A student from the school was killed nearby two years ago.

"Our lives are literally in each other's hands. Our children's lives are in each other's hands," the mayor said.

Citing police statistics that speeding and "inappropriate turning" were to blame in 70% of pedestrian fatalities, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department would increase the number of officers devoted to deterring bad driving and investigating crashes.

There are about 250 pedestrians deaths and 4,000 serious injuries a year, the report says.

As part of Vision Zero, the city's Taxi & Limousine Commission would be focusing on dangerous taxi and livery drivers, issuing fines and other penalties and looking for technologies that would slow down meters when the drivers speed.

The administration also plans to lobby Albany to increase penalties for reckless driving that injures pedestrians or bicyclists and to allow more red-light and speed cameras. A lower default speed limit requires City Council and state approval.

Since the city activated speed cameras last month, de Blasio said nearly 4,000 drivers have been ticketed.

The proposals aren't only regulatory. Polly Trottenberg, the city's transportation commissioner, said pedestrians plazas -- the kinds pioneered in the city by the Bloomberg administration -- can help cut deaths and injury rates and could be expanded.

Absent from the proposals, however, is any planned targeting of pedestrians committing roadway offenses, such as jaywalking, Bratton said.

This is a change from last month, when Bratton, during a news conference, blamed pedestrian error as contributing to most crashes and, when asked, did not rule out targeting wayward pedestrians.

Asked yesterday about pedestrians, the men said they will not be targeted for ticketing in a systematic way.

"The anti-jaywalking measures are not part of the overall plan, but at the same time we absolutely respect the right of each precinct commander in NYPD to make decisions that they think are appropriate within their precinct," de Blasio said.


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