Eric Ulrich Won’t Say What He’s Doing About Vehicular Killings in His District
After reiterating his opposition to speed cameras, and following the deaths of at least six pedestrians and cyclists in his district in the last 15 months, Queens City Council Member Eric Ulrich isn’t talking about street safety.
At the end of June, an editorial from Alexander Blenkinsopp — an Ulrich constituent and member of Community Board 9 and the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association — applauded state lawmakers for approving NYC’s speed camera demonstration program. Blenkinsopp said he hoped the cameras would be used to slow speeding drivers near schools in Woodhaven. He also noted anti-enforcement rhetoric from Ulrich, which peaked before the council endorsed the speed camera measure.
Ulrich said at a committee meeting in March that speed cameras would be “punishing the middle class.” He went on to call them a “stupid and moronic idea” and “part of a radical agenda,” adding for good measure, “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of in my life.” He condoned drivers speeding down school streets at night when nobody is around.
Blenkinsopp said that at least six pedestrians and cyclists died in traffic in Woodhaven between 1996 and 2009. At least six pedestrians and cyclists have been killed by drivers in Ulrich’s district since May 2012, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Since March, when Ulrich told Streetsblog he believes speed cameras are a revenue scam, at least one pedestrian has died in his district — Rafael Diaz, a senior struck by a motorist on May 16.
Speeding is the leading factor in NYC traffic deaths, and the probability of pedestrian death increases dramatically with motorist speed. Yet Ulrich’s disdain for automated speed enforcement is unequivocal. “We agree to disagree,” he tweeted in reply to Blenkinsopp’s editorial.
Despite his history of ridiculing DOT traffic calming efforts, however, Ulrich told us he is “committed to ensuring the safety of pedestrians, motorists and cyclists” across the city. “I believe that greater traffic enforcement by the NYPD and installing traffic calming measures such as speed bumps and stop signs in speed prone locations is the best way to achieve this goal,” he wrote.
After Ulrich weighed in on Blenkinsopp’s editorial, we emailed him and two of his staffers. We asked Ulrich what measures he has taken to improve traffic enforcement and traffic calming in his district, and where he stands on the deployment of speed cameras near Woodhaven schools, as called for by Blenkinsopp. When we didn’t hear back, we emailed Ulrich and his staffers again a week later. We received no response.