Rally held to demand speedy enactment of Vision Zero

Family members whose children, partners and siblings died in car accidents rallied at City Hall Sunday to demand fast implementation of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan.

Speakers from the group, Families for Safe Streets, said de Blasio’s call to eliminate traffic deaths over the next decade is set too far into the future. They want benchmarks and a timeline for implementing de Blasio’s 63-point Vision Zero proposal, which calls for cutting the speed limit, street redesigns and stronger enforcement against drivers who speed and fail to yield to pedestrians.

“We demand rapid implementation of Vision Zero because, as you heard from these stories, 10 years is too long to wait,” said Amy Cohen, whose 12-year-old son Sammy died Oct. 8 when a car struck him Prospect Park West and 3rd Street, near his home.

Families for Safe Streets members also called for a citywide 20 mph limit, which is even slower than the mayor’s proposal for a citywide 25 mph speed limit. Changing the city’s default speed limit, now at 30 mph, requires state approval.

The rally was held before today’s City Council hearing on Vision Zero held by the transportation and public safety committees.

“We will dig into the Vision Zero plan at the City Council, bringing forth the concerns of the public so that we can continue working together to make NYC the safest big city in the world,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, the transportation committee chair, in a statement in support of the group.

Wiley Norvell, a de Blasio spokesman, said the mayor is “firmly committed to enacting Vision Zero” and that he appreciated the families’ work advocating for pedestrian safety.

De Blasio’s motorcade on Thursday was caught by CBS 2 cameras running stop signs and exceeding the speed limit.

When asked about de Blasio’s NYPD drivers, Hsi-Pei Liao, whose 3-year-old daughter Allison died on Oct. 6 in Flushing after being hit by a turning car while in a crosswalk, said there needs to be a “mindshift” in drivers accustomed to a rushed city culture.

“I think we’re all guilty at one point or another, so I can’t say the mayor’s horrible for doing so,” Liao said.

With traffic safety proposals now in the hands of City Hall, people at the rally who lost their loved ones spoke about Vision Zero with a sense of urgency as people continue to die from vehicle collisions.

“Make it stick and happen faster,” suggested Debbie Kahn, 60, of Mamaroneck whose son Seth was killed in midtown by an MTA bus driver in November 2009. “It’s not fast enough. Too many people are going to die.”


with Emily Ngo