Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Safer Streets: Will Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein's Senate Step Up?

I would hope so.  The lives of New Yorkers are on the line.  Will the Republican and IDC-led Senate block progress on street safety yet again?
An Assembly bill co-sponsored by Speaker Sheldon Silver would lower
the City’s default speed limit from the current 30 mph to 25 mph, as
part of Vision Zero – Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policy to eliminate
traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024. But with the session
set to end on June 19th, the legislation still has no sponsor in the
“We are not engineers or lawyers; we are families whose loved ones
have been hit or killed in traffic,” said Aaron Charlop-Powers, a
founding member of Families for Safe Streets. “We have one question
for the State Senate today: are you prepared to let politics stand in
the way of saving lives? We can’t wait until next year to pass this
legislation. You can pass a bill this session and reduce the number of
people killed on the City's streets. No family should have to know the
pain we know. We ask that you hear our pain and act in response.” 

“We cannot allow Albany to get off the hook for the traffic deaths on
our streets; we need their action and we need it now,” said Council
Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “The city has done its part, but this work is
not done. With the state legislative term coming to a close shortly,
we want to be sure this remains at the top of their to-do list.”

There is even broader support for the bill:
“The de Blasio Administration joins with the families who have lost
loved ones in calling upon Albany to pass legislation reducing New
York City’s default speed limit to 25 mph,” said NYC Department of
Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “At Vision Zero town
halls across the City to meeting people on the street to walking
through the State Capitol with families who've lost loved ones, we
hear the resounding call to lower New York’s driving speeds and make
our streets safer.”
“Demand for slower speeds is coming from all over the five boroughs,”
says Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation
Alternatives. “We have thousands of petitions signed by New Yorkers
who want to live in communities free of dangerous speeding. Mayor de
Blasio, the City Council and the State Assembly have shown us how the
City and State can work together to save lives on our streets. Now we
need a lifesaver in the State Senate.”


LLroomtempJ said...

It passed. Whatever. I don't think that there is anything inherently unsafe about a 30mph speed limit.

If you want to slow people down, install speed control devices, speed cameras and *actually* enforce the law.

Rarer is the case that speed contributes to a pedestrian fatality in a crowded city than is the case where negligence (obliviousness, failure to yield) and aggression on the part of both driver and pedestrian drive pedestrian deaths.

A lot of what has happened in NYC over the past 10 years w/r/t traffic policy feels more like "anti-car" policy than it does "common sense" policy.

We all want fewer deaths, but it feels like the people in control want fewer cars on the road. I can understand such a sentiment, but it does not appropriately take into account disparities in access to mass transit across all 5 boroughs. It also doesn't take into account that mass transit, biking and walking aren't always practical options (eg - grocery shopping, commuting to work in certain parts of the city or outside the city etc)

Gary Reilly said...

Speed is not the only factor but it is an important factor. And the speed limit reduction is only a part of the broader Vision Zero package - with emphasis on enforcement and physical improvements to the roads. Traffic calming measures such as daylighted intersections, planted medians, wider pedestrian refuges, etc.

Most people in NYC don't own a car. Transit access throughout the city needs to be improved - I think the MoveNY program will help to provide funds for that as well as improvements to the street grid that will benefit drivers. And a more rational tolling scheme that will benefit everybody.

Owning a car is not cheap. And there are reasonable alternatives for some things, like grocery shopping, such as home delivery or a car service. Then there's carshare like Zipcar.

Ultimately there simply is not room in the city to encourage more car use. Nor is there room in the Clean Air Act, which mandates that we reduce emissions (hence the parking maximums in the central business district).

A car can be a useful thing - I own one! But the externalities of private car use have to be adequately addressed.

We still have a city that offers free parking on most of its public streets. That doesn't sound anti-car to me.

But the main thing is that this will save lives, and it is only a part of a bigger package of policy changes.