Thursday, June 26, 2014

de Blasio's NYC DOT Ahead In Implementing Vision Zero, But When Will New York State DOT Enter 21st Century?

From earlier this week, Mayor de Blasio signed 11 bills into law to improve the safety of NYC's streets:
Mayor de Blasio signed a sweeping package of 11 new laws Monday designed to crack down on reckless drivers and advance his “Vision Zero” plan to cut traffic deaths.
The new laws will lower the speed limit to 15 to 20 miles per hours near 50 schools each year, and allow the city to suspend the license of a cabbie who kills or seriously injures someone while committing a traffic violation.
They will make it a crime to hit a pedestrian or cyclist who has the right of way, as well as banning stunt driving by motorcyclists and requiring the city to fix broken traffic signals within 24 hours.
“Fundamentally, it comes down to reducing speeding, reducing reckless driving,” de Blasio said.
“The vision is to end traffic fatalities in this city. It’s not easy,” he said. “We can’t keep losing New Yorkers because we haven’t done all in our power to protect them.”
But on the other hand, New York State DOT has declined to adopt NACTO standards for safer, multi-modal streets:
The 2014 Smart Growth America “Dangerous by Design” pedestrian fatality study found that, though just 15 percent of lane miles in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are classified as arterials, from 2003 to 2012 they accounted for 50 percent or more of pedestrian deaths in 90 percent of counties.
There’s a reason the report is called “Dangerous by Design” — streets and roads designed for maximum auto throughput are not safe for people who walk and bike. If anything, the status quo on these streets should be an argument in favor of incorporating NACTO designs into the NYS DOT tool kit. Though states including California, Washington, Massachusetts — even Tennessee — have updated their guidelines, apparently NYS DOT won’t be following suit because they conflict with outmoded designs recommended by AASHTO.
 It would be great to see a cultural change at NYS DOT to reflect the current state of the art in street safety.  As it stands our state DOT is still steeped in a mid to late 20th century mindset.

Don't get me started on my old state of New Jersey, which is home to some truly disastrous traffic engineering that has rendered large swaths of the state brutally inhospitable to pedestrians.  It will take decades to undo the damage in NJ.  And there's no time like the present to get started.

No comments: