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Vision Zero supporters voice their support for accident-reduction bills

Families of New Yorkers killed in car accidents

Families of New Yorkers killed in car accidents rally on the steps of City Hall before a City Council hearing. Photo Credit: Ivan Pereira

City agencies and the public Wednesday weighed in on a package of City Hall bills aiming to reduce the number of motor accidents in the city.

Dozens of New Yorkers, including some who lost loved ones in auto accidents, packed the City Council chambers Wednesday to testify before the Council's Transportation Committee, which is considering 22 "Vision Zero" bills.

Before the meeting, committee chairman Ydanis Rodriguez joined the families outside City Hall and reassured them that the Council would do what it can to prevent future tragedies.

"We expect this to move very quick," he said of the legislation.

Last year, 168 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents. It's the leading cause of death for New York City children under 14, the councilman said.

The most prominent bill in the package urges the state to lower the citywide speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour. Amy Cohen, whose 12-year-old son Sammy Cohen Eckstein was killed in an accident in October, said reduced speeds could have made the difference for her boy.

"If the driver that hit Sammy was going 20 miles per hour, he would have stopped in time -- or if he hit [Sammy], he would have survived," the Park Slope mother said.

Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the city's Department of Transportation, said she received tremendous feedback from Vision Zero workshops in several neighborhoods. The department is continuing to unveil safety plans for accident prone streets such as Atlantic Avenue.

"The way Vision Zero resonates with New Yorkers in every type of neighborhood has been truly inspiring," she said.

The city got a boost from Albany yesterday when the state Senate approved a bill for 140 more speed cameras in the city. The Assembly approved the measure earlier this week, and the governor is expected to sign it into law.

Word of the vote sent cheers throughout the Council chambers during the hearing and praise from several elected officials.

"Although they did good today, I hope they can go further and reduce the speed limit," Public Advocate Letitia James said.


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