De Blasio announces "rapid expansion" of the Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths in New York
Expect longer pedestrian crossing times, stricter traffic ticketing and more red lights along dangerous streets.
Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined his plan for extending New York's Vision Zero initiative, a campaign to eventually reduce New York's traffic-related deaths to zero. The program reduced the number of car casualties last year to the lowest point since 1910, and de Blasio wants to invest another $1.6 billion to expand Vision Zero programs to another 16 "priority corridors."
"Vision Zero is going to expand rapidly," de Blasio said at a press conference. "We know the things that work. We've seen it."
The city will ramp up pedestrian safety measures along certain stretches of Westchester Avenue, Boston Road and Soundview Avenue in the Bronx; Linden Boulevard, 8th Avenue, Surf Avenue and Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn; Columbus Avenue, York Avenue and 10th Avenue in Manhattan; Rockaway Boulevard, 37th Avenue and 21st Street in Queens and Targee Street, Bradley Avenue and Lincoln Avenue in Staten Island. According to the de Blasio administration, these dangerous streets account for a huge percentage of accidents and fatalities in New York--half of traffic deaths happen on just seven percent of the city's streets.
The city will change stoplight timing along these dangerous intersections to slow down the flow of traffic by the end of the year. Furthermore, the city will add "pedestrian head-starts" at 300 other intersections, giving people more time to cross the street without needing to interact with moving traffic, and will ramp up ticketing and enforcement of speed limits and yield laws.
De Blasio congratulated Department of Transportation and NYPD officials as well as community organizers for helping to reduce New York's traffic deaths to 200 in 2018, though he expressed concern that there have been seven more deaths in the first three months of 2019 than there was in the same timeframe last year.
"The number one thing we focus on is speed reduction," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenburg. "That's the secret sauce."
Though they promised to expand the program, de Blasio and NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan reiterated the importance of responsible driving, urging car owners to slow down for left turns and never to text or call while at the wheel. De Blasio took the latter especially seriously, confessing to ordering his security detail to ticket a driver he spotted texting on the FDR bridge Tuesday morning.
All assembled officials promised to fight for expanding speed cameras in school zones, something that must be passed by the state legislatures.
"Losing one life is one too many," de Blasio said.