Mayor Bill de Blasio at the intersection where 8-year-old pedestrian Noshat Nahian was struck by a tractor trailer and killed last month. Credit: Rob Bennett for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio
Less than a month after an 8-year-old pedestrian was struck crossing Northern Boulevard in Queens, his family returned to the dangerous intersection where he was killed to support new traffic safety initiatives.
"I am very happy," Nargish Begum said Wednesday, her eyes filling with tears. She stood in the school grounds just feet from where her son, Noshat Nahian, was hit by a tractor trailer on his way to class Dec. 20.
Holding a picture of Noshat, Begum silently cried as Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a series of initiatives aimed at eliminating pedestrian and other traffic fatalities in the city in 10 years.
"It is incredibly painful to hear the stories of these families and what they've gone through," de Blasio said. Surrounded by other grieving families, the mayor heaved deep sighs throughout the announcement.
"I see this through the eyes of a parent. I see this as a father," he said.
Through the Vision Zero initiative, the city hopes to entirely eliminate deadly crashes, particularly those involving pedestrians. A plan to implement this vision will be developed in the next month by an interagency task force with officials from the transportation and health departments, NYPD and the Taxi & Limousine Commission.
As an immediate step, tickets will be issued to enforce limits near recently installed speed cameras. The NYPD will move to increase its Highway Division by 50 percent.
"This is an effort that the mayor has prioritized and rightfully so," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said, adding later, "A life lost is a life lost, whether by murder or traffic accident."
The interagency group will explore means of improving 50 dangerous intersections, increasing the number of 20 mph zones and investing in education for drivers and pedestrians.
"We think there is an epidemic here," the mayor said, adding later, "The time to start change is now."
De Blasio will also pursue a traffic safety agenda with the state legislature.
"It's a step in the right direction," said Audrey Anderson, whose 14-year-old son Andre was struck and killed will riding his bike in 2005. But Anderson said she is still concerned about defining criminality in incidents of reckless driving.
After police said Mauricio Osorio-Palominos hit Noshat with the truck, the Newark, N.J., resident was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor.
Afsana Choudhury, a friend of Noshat's family, said she and Begum were appreciative of de Blasio's efforts.
"She's happy the mayor came and that they're going to take an action so that other kids can be safe," said Choudhury, speaking on behalf of Begum.