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Majority of NYC DAs Agree: All City Schools Should Have Speed Cameras

Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown

Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown

Three New York City district attorneys have endorsed Albany legislation that would allow New York City to install speed enforcement cameras outside every school.

Cy Vance, Ken Thompson, and Richard Brown, the top prosecutors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, respectively, sent separate letters to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Transportation Chair David Gantt, and Manhattan Assembly Member Deborah Glick in support of Assembly Bill 9861. Introduced by Glick, the bill would allow any school to have automated speed enforcement with no time of day restrictions. The bill would also make the program permanent.

Currently, NYC is limited to 140 speed cameras to cover the entire city, leaving streets used by over a million kids without enforcement to slow speeding drivers. Cameras can only be used during school hours, and the program would sunset in 2018. Tickets carry a $50 fine with no license or insurance points and are only issued to drivers who exceed the speed limit in school zones by 11 mph or more.

Speeding is down by 60 percent in areas covered by existing cameras, according to DOT. Extending camera coverage to all city schools could save 100 lives and prevent 2,700 crashes and 1,400 serious injuries annually, according to Transportation Alternatives.

“As Brooklyn’s chief law enforcement officer, I am committed to protecting pedestrians and holding drivers accountable for injuries caused by their reckless driving,” wrote Thompson. “The increased presence of speed cameras in our neighborhoods is a necessary tool in helping keep Brooklyn students and pedestrians safe.”

“My top priority as a prosecutor is public safety, and the effectiveness of school zone speed cameras in protecting New York City children and pedestrians is undeniable,” said Vance. “Speed cameras have proven to be an inexpensive way to slow down drivers and save lives.”

“Speeding is a leading cause of injury-related death for children in my county and throughout New York,” Brown wrote. “Getting drivers to slow down will reduce these injuries and deaths.”

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NYC Students Tell Albany: Speed Cameras at #EverySchool Will Save Lives

“Not one more.” Street safety advocates and students join Assembly Member Deborah Glick in calling on Albany to allow speed cameras at every school in NYC. Photo: Brad Aaron

“Not one more.” Street safety advocates and students join Assembly Member Deborah Glick in calling on Albany to allow speed cameras at every school in NYC. Photo: Brad Aaron

Students from MS 51 in Brooklyn joined family and friends of people killed by New York City drivers in Albany today to ask state lawmakers to allow the city to install speed cameras outside every school.

Organized by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, about 140 New Yorkers met with legislators to drum up support for Assembly Bill 9861. Introduced by Lower Manhattan rep Deborah Glick, the bill would let any school have automated speed enforcement without restrictions on hours of camera operation. Glick’s bill, which only pertains to NYC, would also remove a sunset provision, now set for 2018, making the city’s speed camera program permanent.

State law currently limits NYC to deploying just 140 speed cameras, which can be used in school zones during school hours only, though most fatal crashes occur at night. Tickets are not issued unless a driver is exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph or more, and the penalty is $50 with no license or insurance points.

Speeding is down by 60 percent at camera locations, according to DOT, but the narrow scope of the program leaves the vast majority of NYC’s 6,000 miles of streets without enforcement. Streets that kids cross every day to get to school have no cameras to deter speeding.

Advocates and lawmakers who have signed on to Glick’s bill want to expand enforcement for the million-plus children who at any given time attend schools that don’t have cameras. Extending camera coverage to all NYC schools would save 100 lives and prevent 2,700 crashes and 1,400 serious injuries annually, according to TA.

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Mothers Who Lost Kids Call on Albany to Allow Speed Cams at Every School

Public Advocate Letitia James spoke alongside members of Families for Safe Streets at city hall this morning. Photo: David Meyer

Public Advocate Letitia James spoke alongside members of Families for Safe Streets at City Hall this morning. Photo: David Meyer

This morning, six mothers who lost their children to traffic violence — Amy Cohen, Ellen Foote, Judy Kottick, Dana Lerner, Lizi Rahman, and Sofia Russo — spoke on the steps of City Hall, calling on Albany to expand automated speed enforcement in New York City.

Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives will go to the state capitol tomorrow to build support for Assembly Member Deborah Glick’s bill to expand the city’s speed camera program.

Current state law limits NYC’s speed cameras to 140 locations. The cameras must be placed within a quarter mile of a school on a street that directly abuts it. Moreover, enforcement is limited to school hours, providing no deterrent during the night, when fatal crashes are more likely.

Glick’s bill would address those flaws by removing the limit on the number of schools where cameras can be sited, allowing them to operate 24/7, and making the program permanent. (It is currently set to expire in 2018.)

“We have an epidemic of drivers that are not slowing down, and children are being killed,” said Lerner, whose 9-year-old son Cooper Stock was struck and killed by a cab driver who violated his right-of-way in a crosswalk at West End Avenue and 97th Street.

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TA Will Track Safety Policies of NYC’s Private Fleet Operators

Transportation Alternatives is calling on private fleet operators who do business in New York City to talk about what they’re doing to make employees safer drivers.

Operators of private trash trucks are among the most dangerous drivers in NYC. Photo: Jason Lawrence/Flickr

Operators of private trash trucks are among the most dangerous drivers in NYC. Photo: Jason Lawrence/Flickr

“Fleet management is one of the most effective ways to reduce injuries and fatalities on New York City’s streets,” said TA Executive Director Paul Steely White in a press release. “Fleet managers set the pace for safe driving, and we want to recognize the operators that are raising the bar for safety on New York City’s streets.”

In Sweden, a principal Vision Zero strategy is to move responsibility upward by directing reforms and incentives at the level of fleet operators. NYC does not keep track of how many people are injured and killed in crashes caused by the drivers of private fleet vehicles, but other data sets point to the extent of the problem.

A 2014 U.S. DOT study of city data found that trucks make up 3.6 percent of vehicles in the city, but account for 12.3 percent of pedestrian fatalities and 32 percent of cyclist deaths. “Killed by Automobile,” Charles Komanoff’s 1999 analysis of city traffic fatalities, reported that private trash haulers kill more people per mile driven than other truck drivers.

In January, TA sent out surveys to more than 100 commercial truck and taxi fleet operators, with questions concerning driver training, crash avoidance technology, and collision response protocols. Three companies — Fresh Direct, Con Edison, and Academy Bus — were ahead of the pack, TA reports, and were invited to participate in a workshop at last month’s Vision Zero Cities 2016 conference.

The workshop was hosted by Keith Kerman of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. DCAS is taking steps to reduce injuries and deaths from collisions involving city fleet vehicles, including measuring and publishing data on such crashes.

DCAS has also installed “black box” tech on the department’s own vehicles, according to TA, and has pledged to install side guards on 6,000 city-owned trucks by 2024. “Through the early adoption of innovative technology and vehicle design modifications,” says the TA press release, “DCAS has triggered a race to the top for safety among private fleet operators here in New York City.”

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Jose Peralta and Michael DenDekker Call for Speed Cams at Every School

There is more than one Albany bill to loosen state restrictions on New York City’s speed camera program.

State Senator Jose Peralta introduced legislation today that would allow the city to install cameras in every school zone, up from the 140-camera cap imposed by the state. A separate Peralta bill, introduced in March, would eliminate state rules that limit the use of cameras to school hours.

In the Assembly, Deborah Glick is sponsoring a bill that would accomplish both those goals, as well as remove the sunset provision state lawmakers placed on the camera program. Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets are campaigning to get Glick’s bill passed.

Another bill from Assembly Member Michael DenDekker would suspend vehicle registrations of people who accumulate five or more speed camera tickets in a year, according to the Daily News.

“We’re happy to work with Assembly Member Glick because she’s been a leader on this issue from day one,” TA Deputy Director Caroline Samponaro told Streetsblog. Samponaro said the introduction of overlapping bills could work out for the best. “It’s good to see [Peralta and DenDekker] stepping up and taking action.”

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City Council Proposes Vision Zero Funding Increase — Will de Blasio Agree?

The City Council is proposing a significant increase in funding for street safety projects. Now it’s up to Mayor de Blasio to decide whether to devote more resources to get the city closer to his Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024.

Mayor de Blasio meeting with the family of Noshat Nahian, who was killed by a truck driver on Northern Boulevard, at the announcement of his Vision Zero initiative in 2014. Photo: NYC Mayor’s Office

The council’s budget proposal calls for an additional $52.4 million in FY 2017 to complete 98 “operational” projects — low-cost improvements that can be built quickly with paint, plastic posts, and light construction work. That would be a nearly 25 percent increase from the 80 operational projects DOT completed in 2015.

The council also wants to allocate $250 million annually to more time- and resource-intensive Vision Zero capital projects. This would represent a big increase and match the funding level called for in Transportation Alternatives’ Vision Zero Investment Report. (Current annual spending on these projects is a little fuzzy, but the de Blasio administration set aside a total of $240 million for street safety capital projects over 10 years, then added $115 million for the next four years in its 2017 budget proposal.)

The de Blasio administration has reduced traffic deaths each of the past two years. With fatalities rising the first two months of this year compared to 2015, however, the city is not on track to maintain that progress. Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the council earlier this month that her agency has the resources it needs, but it’s plain that DOT’s Vision Zero budget would benefit from a significant boost if the city is going to attain its street safety goals.

Transportation Alternatives staff and volunteers had a sit-down with council members a few weeks ago to discuss what it would take for the budget to align with the city’s Vision Zero goals. Yesterday the council released its response to the mayor’s preliminary FY 17 budget [PDF, page 42], and the council proposal is “almost entirely in line” with what TA is seeking, according to TA policy and research manager Julia Kite.

“Frankly, we’ve found that we’re not on track to get to Vision Zero, even remotely close to 2024, unless the Department of Transportation is given the resources to greatly expand the number of projects it’s doing,” said Kite. “I think our message was strong and it came across well.”

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Here’s How You Can Help Bring Speed Enforcement to #EverySchool in NYC

Click on the image to tour the #EverySchool web site.

Click on the image to tour the #EverySchool web site.

Transportation Alternatives is ramping up its #EverySchool campaign to loosen Albany restrictions on New York City speed cameras.

Earlier this month, TA and Families for Safe Streets launched an effort to get state lawmakers to allow NYC to site speed cameras outside every school in the city. As of now, arbitrary state rules limit NYC to just 140 cameras, to be used in school zones during school hours only. Tickets carry a $50 fine with no license or insurance points and are not issued unless a driver is speeding by at least 11 miles per hour.

Even with those limitations, speeding is down by an average of 60 percent in locations where speed cameras are installed, according to DOT.

With just 7 percent of school zones covered by cameras at one time, TA and Families for Safe Streets are backing a bill introduced by Assembly Member Deborah Glick that would let any school have camera enforcement with no time of day restrictions. The bill would remove an Albany sunset provision, making the speed camera program permanent.

A new campaign web site allows parent groups and community organizations to join the #EverySchool Coalition. There is a form for contacting state reps about the campaign, and parents can share stories about the dangers their kids encounter when walking to school.

On May 10, TA and Families for Safe Streets will travel to Albany to encourage lawmakers to help pass Glick’s bill. People interested in making the trip can reserve a seat via the #EverySchool site, or sponsor other families that would like to go.

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Advocates Ask City Council to Fully Fund Vision Zero Street Improvements

Stephen Levin (right) was one of thirteen council members to sign onto TA's pledge to fully fund Vision Zero projects in 2016. Photo: Kristen Miller

Stephen Levin (right) was one of 13 council members who signed onto TA’s pledge to fully fund Vision Zero projects in 2016. Photo: Kristen Miller

If the city hopes to dramatically decrease the number of traffic fatalities in New York City, DOT needs more resources to redesign the city’s most dangerous corridors and intersections.

That’s the message 70 members of Transportation Alternatives brought to the City Council yesterday, meeting with 21 council members or their staff.

“We are calling on the council to increase funding and watchdog implementation of safety improvements along the priority corridors and intersections that the DOT has already identified in its Pedestrian Safety Action Plans,” TA Executive Director Paul Steely White said in a statement. “To increase staffing and pay for resurfacing, road marking, signaling, and outreach, the DOT will need an increase in the operating budget, not stagnation.”

Advocates say DOT needs more funding to address safety concerns on the city's most dangerous corridors. Image: Transportation Alternatives

Advocates say DOT needs more funding to fix the city’s most dangerous streets. Image: Transportation Alternatives

TA’s Vision Zero Report Card, released in January, pointed to the slow pace of progress on the dangerous streets and intersections identified by DOT in its borough-by-borough pedestrian safety action plans. Only 22 percent of the 154 priority corridors have undergone safety improvements, and most of those improvements were to specific intersections. Only three of the 154 corridors have receive improvements along their entire length.

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TA and Families for Safe Streets Call for Speed Cameras at #EverySchool

speed_cam_every_school

Graphic: Transportation Alternatives [PDF]

Assembly Member Deborah Glick will introduce legislation to significantly expand New York City’s speed camera program. To get the bill enacted, street safety advocates will have to build support in the State Senate and ensure that Governor Cuomo signs it into law.

At a press conference this morning, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White joined members of Families for Safe Streets to call on Albany to allow automated speed enforcement by every school in NYC.

Amy Cohen spoke alongside other members of Families for Safe Streets in support of expanding the city's school speed camera program. Photo: David Meyer

Amy Cohen spoke alongside other members of Families for Safe Streets in support of expanding the city’s school speed camera program. Photo: David Meyer

State law currently limits the city’s speed camera program. No more than 140 locations can have the cameras, and they have to be placed within quarter mile of a school on a street that directly abuts the school. Enforcement is limited to hours when school activities are occurring, which leaves the speed limit unenforced during the 12 hours of the day when fatal crashes are most likely.

Glick’s bill would change the current set-up in three ways:

  • Any school in the city would be able to have speed camera enforcement within a half-mile radius, removing the limits on the number of “school zones” that can receive automated speed enforcement at any given rime.
  • Time restrictions on enforcement would be eliminated, allowing the cameras to operate 24/7.
  • The current sunset provision — under which the program would need to be renewed in 2018 — would expire, making the camera program permanent.

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Next Week Is the 2016 Vision Zero Conference — Get Tickets While You Can

Transportation_Alternatives

Tickets are going fast for the Vision Zero Cities 2016 Conference, hosted by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets.

Next Thursday and Friday, March 10 and 11, attendees will hear from livable streets luminaries and public officials including Janette Sadik-Khan, Jon Orcutt, Polly Trottenberg, Ryan Russo, Ydanis Rodriguez, Antonio Reynoso, Meera Joshi, Rohit Aggarwala, Steve Vaccaro, and Barron Lerner.

To kick things off Thursday, Jill Abramson will moderate a Q&A with Bill Bratton. It’s not often you get to see the New York police commissioner field questions on traffic safety from the former editor-in-chief of the Times. There’s also a party Thursday evening to mark the release of “Street Fight,” the new book from Sadik-Khan and former DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow.

TA staff and members of Families for Safe Streets will participate in panels on automated enforcement, engineering streets for safety, using data to guide Vision Zero policy, and transportation equity. Physicians and researchers will lead a session on the impact of traffic violence on public health. There will be walking and biking tours of Queens Boulevard and Morningside Avenue, and lots more.

This year’s conference will be held at NYU’s Kimmel Center. Tickets start at $250, and we hear they’re close to selling out.