Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to reduce the default speed limit in the city to 25 mph from 30, and that’s a great idea. But the catch is obvious.
Most New Yorkers take the ability to zoom and zigzag through traffic as a birthright. The town is filled with taxi drivers who specialize in the shock-and-awe lane change and sudden stop. And they’re not the only ones.
Pedestrians on cellphones cross on red in the path of hard-charging delivery vans. Bicyclists terrify tourists as they swoosh down crowded sidewalks around Times Square. And jaywalkers all over town plunge into traffic without glancing up — as if it’s not their problem should the other guy fail to stop.
It is their problem. It’s everyone’s problem.
As the mayor rolled out a comprehensive traffic-safety plan Tuesday, he noted that last year’s traffic deaths — at 286 — almost equaled the city’s homicide total — at 333. Being struck by vehicles was the greatest cause of death or injury for children younger than 15.
De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton want to lower speeds and step up enforcement. That’s a must — and they’ll be starting virtually from scratch. We’re pretty much the Wild West right now. Other strong ideas:
The mayor wants to redesign dangerous intersections at the rate of about 50 a year.
He wants to sharply expand the use of red-light and speed cameras — if Albany is willing.
He wants to push the Taxi and Limousine Commission to step up enforcement of its own safety rules.
The de Blasio plan — unfortunately named Vision Zero — puts the main emphasis on drivers. Given that speeding and improper turns are the greatest causes of bodily harm, this makes sense. But we do hope the NYPD tries to curb dangerous behavior by pedestrians, too.
We would also urge the mayor to hang on to the newly created open spaces in Times Square and other crowded locales around the city. They can only enhance safety.
New York should always be exciting. But a honking, screeching, Darwinian mosh pit? Hit the brakes.