De Blasio plan to eliminate traffic deaths relies on broad cooperation

vision zero bill de blasio
Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan for safer streets includes a reduction of the citywide speed limit.
Credit: @nycmayorsoffice/Twitter

New York City’s path to safer streets includes a reduction of the citywide speed limit, redesigning problematic intersections and developing safety plans borough by borough.

The de Blasio administration laid out 63 separate traffic safety initiatives on Tuesday afternoon. The mayor unveiled the city’s action plan at Manhattan’s PS 75, not far from the corner of 96th Street and Broadway, near where three people died within nine days in January.

The plan calls for greater discretion to communities and stakeholders, coordination with legislators in both City Hall and Albany and continued work between the designated agencies charged with protecting the city’s drivers and pedestrians.

“It’s about much more than speed bumps and the issuing of violations,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “It’s also about all us taking greater responsibly every time we get behind the wheel and every time we step out on the street.”

De Blasio asserted Vision Zero, an international movement focused on the elimination of traffic-related deaths, is both a possible and necessary goal in New York City.

“Our lives our literally in each others hands,” he added. “Our children’s lives are in each others hands.”

De Blasio described the 42-page report as a living document, amenable to change as the city endeavors come through with its initial Vision Zero goals. While there are no firm deadlines to any of the individual goals, some of them are more immediately attainable, including those under the Police Department’s purview.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who called the plan a “great” one, said the department would focus its energies on two areas: speeding and failure to yield violations, the latter of which are often handed to drivers who hit pedestrians.

“We will be enforcing many rules and regulations, but that is the one that we feel … can have the quickest and most significant impact in reducing particularly pedestrian fatalities,” Bratton said.

The city will also engage leaders, community boards and residents on a borough-by-borough basis to develop street safety plans, which the Department of Transportation will then use as an opportunity to pinpoint the intersections most urgently in need of redesign.

Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg also committed to creating at least 33 slow zones, mostly for high-capacity roads but also for a handful of neighborhoods. She also said the department would install more speed humps and improve street lighting at 1,000 intersections.

De Blasio’s vision, however, gets a little cloudier when it comes to initiatives that require action from Albany. The City Council has long struggled to wrestle control over its citywide speed limit, which the mayor announced today should be lowered to 25 mph from the current 30 mph.

City Hall would also have to negotiation with state lawmakers over the administration’s plan to expand its speed and red light cameras citywide. Current law restricts placement to some 170 locations, with the city having reported almost 4,000 speeding tickets in the last month.

“We expect a very positive discussion — working with our colleagues in the City Council, working with our colleagues in Albany — to get us that authority so we can move forward,” de Blasio said. “I think this is an area where there’s a growing consensus.”

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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