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Posts from the Traffic Enforcement Category

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Reinvent Albany: NYPD Needs to Open Up Its Traffic Summons Data

Last week, the NYPD unveiled an online view of “TrafficStat,” the department’s system for tracking traffic crashes. While the site has some data that’s not available on DOT’s Vision Zero View tool, it leaves a lot to be desired, according to the government accountability and transparency watchdog Reinvent Albany.

The NYPD is making its "TrafficStat" tool available to the public. Image: NYPD

NYPD’s “TrafficStat” map falls short . Image: NYPD

In a blog post today, Reinvent Albany notes that the TrafficStat site merely maps data that was already available. And crucially, NYPD’s portal lacks data about where police are enforcing traffic laws, which the agency has refused to release for years.

Geo-tagged information about summonses remains the key missing piece of open NYPD data. Without it, the public has no insight into how traffic enforcement efforts are linked to crash-prone locations. Open data on summonses, says Reinvent Albany, would be “extremely useful to researchers who want to understand the connection between police enforcement and traffic injuries and deaths, and to advocates and community leaders who are concerned about the level of police traffic enforcement in their neighborhood.”

Reinvent Albany also says NYPD needs to do a better job of making its underlying crash data publicly accessible. There is currently no way to get this data via the Traffic Stat site, event though it’s available from the city’s open data portal:

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City Hall Puts NYPD’s TrafficStat Crash-Mapping Tool Online

The NYPD is making its "TrafficStat" tool available to the public. Image: NYPD

The NYPD is making its TrafficStat crash-mapping tool available to the public, but data on where police issue traffic summonses is still not available. Image: NYPD

Mayor de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced today that the city will make “TrafficStat,” NYPD’s tool for mapping and analyzing traffic collision data, available online to the public. It’s an improvement over the city’s existing crash-mapping tool but lacks one very important type of information — data about where police are enforcing traffic laws.

The TrafficStat site enables users to track crashes by location, going a few steps further than the city’s existing Vision Zero View tool. Collisions can be broken down by type, contributing factor, day of the week, hour of the day, precinct, and patrol borough. The data was previously available on NYC’s open data portal, but the TrafficStat site puts it in an easy-to-view format.

The site will also be updated more frequently than Vision Zero View — once a week on Tuesdays, as opposed to once a month.

Since the late 1990s, NYPD has used TrafficStat to guide traffic enforcement efforts. City officials said today that they want the public to see the role that TrafficStat plays in the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative.

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Families of Crash Victims Pledge Action to Save Lives on Day of Remembrance

Family members of victims of fatal traffic crashes hold up the photos of the lost loved ones. Photo: David Meyer

Family members of victims of fatal traffic crashes hold up the photos of the lost loved ones. Photo: David Meyer

New Yorkers who lost loved ones to traffic violence gathered at City Hall Park yesterday to mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. They called on Mayor de Blasio as well as elected officials in Albany to do more to prevent the hundreds of deaths that happen on NYC streets each year.

“Collectively, our story is one that’s impossible to ignore,” said Hank Miller, whose 30-year-old sister Victoria Nicodemus was killed by an unlicensed curb-jumping driver in Fort Greene last December. “We have to work together with our elected officials to prevent these tragedies, and to make sure no other families have to come up here and talk about their loved one lost to preventable tragedies.”

Under Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” initiative, traffic fatalities in NYC reached a record low in 2015, but this year the number of lives lost is escalating. At the current rate of progress, the city won’t come close to achieving the goal of zero traffic deaths by 2024. Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, and the City Council leadership have all called on de Blasio to increase funding for street safety redesigns, but the mayor has not adjusted his budget in response.

Meanwhile, this year Governor Cuomo and state legislative leaders failed to advance legislation to expand the city’s automated speed camera program.

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TA: Traffic Justice Must Align With Racial Justice

With the incoming president running on a “law and order” message that includes promoting unconstitutional and ineffective stop-and-frisk practices on American city streets, civil rights groups associated with the Black Lives Matter movement are anticipating difficult fights ahead.

In a letter to their members yesterday, the leadership of Transportation Alternatives expressed commitment to the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement and laid out a set of guiding principles for integrating racial justice into their efforts to make NYC streets safe for walking and biking.

“Because we fight to protect New Yorkers in every community, our fight for Vision Zero must also be a fight against institutional, individual and implicit racism,” the letter says. “Transportation Alternatives stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.”

The letter begins by noting striking racial imbalances: People of color are disproportionately likely to be harmed by traffic violence, while black drivers are also stopped, ticketed, and searched by police at five times the rate of white drivers, according to a 2015 New York Times report.

TA outlines five commitments:

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You Can Now Tell 311 About Bike Lane Blockers

Idling cars pulling in and out of bike lanes are a regular threat to the safety of people riding bikes on city streets. Image: @bikelaneblitz

Cars parking or idling in bike lanes regularly threaten the safety of people riding bikes on NYC streets. Photo: @bikelaneblitz

New Yorkers can now report drivers illegally blocking bike lanes via the city’s 311 website and mobile apps, according to an update from 311 yesterday.

The 311 website and the “NYC 311” app enable users to report quality of life, health, and safety complaints to the city. Yesterday’s update added “blocked bike lane” to the set of “illegal parking” violations that can be reported, as well as the option to report unsafe taxi and livery driver behavior (including blocking a bike lane) to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

One of the benefits of the update, in addition to making bike lane blockers easier to report, is that there will now be a specific record of user-reported, geo-tagged bike lane violations to 311. Until now, any bike lane blocker reported to 311 would get filed under the vaguer category of “illegal parking.”

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Manhattan DA Cy Vance Fields Another Challenge to the Right of Way Law

A livery cab driver who killed a senior in a Manhattan crosswalk last winter is challenging the constitutionality of the Right of Way Law. District Attorney Cy Vance filed a response defending the statute.

At around 8:30 on the morning of February 29, Buddhi Gurung hit 77-year-old Carol Dauplaise with a Toyota sedan while turning left at the corner of Madison Avenue and E. 36th Street. Gurung was charged with violating the victim’s right of way under Section 19-190, an unclassified misdemeanor, and careless driving, which is a traffic infraction.

The Right of Way Law was adopted to give NYPD a tool to pursue cases against drivers who killed or injured people in crashes police did not witness — cases that historically resulted in no investigation and no penalty for motorists. According to court documents, NYPD investigators obtained video that showed Gurung strike Dauplaise as she crossed the street with other pedestrians “in a crosswalk with a walk signal.”

Gurung’s attorney wants the court to dismiss the Section 19-190 charge. Gurung claims the law unconstitutionally relies on a civil or “ordinary” negligence standard to prove failure to exercise due care, and that the law conflicts with state code.

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DOT Can’t Control the Seasons, But de Blasio Can Fund Safer Street Designs

Let's design streets to be safe even during the most dangerous times of year. Chart: DOT

Let’s design streets to be safe even during the most dangerous times of year. Chart: DOT

Today DOT announced a “dusk and darkness” traffic enforcement and education campaign to reduce pedestrian injuries and deaths during fall and winter, when fatal crashes tend to be more frequent.

“As the days get shorter and the weather colder, crashes on our streets involving pedestrians increase — and so we are enlisting data-driven strategies to address that upturn,” Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “Through education and enforcement with our sister agencies, every driver needs to learn about the limited visibility of this season and the dangers of fast turns, especially in the evening hours.”

Trottenberg cited the redesigned approach to the Manhattan Bridge as a project that will “make crossing our busiest streets safer for everybody,” but that project is independent of the new seasonal safety campaign.

There’s nothing wrong with drawing attention to the fact that streets are more dangerous this time of year, but it’s no substitute for street designs that make walking safer year-round.

“’Let’s all try to be more careful’ doesn’t really work,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul White told Streetsblog. “That’s a pre-Vision Zero approach.”

Severe crashes that harm pedestrians increase by almost 40 percent on fall and winter evenings compared to other seasons, according to DOT. In the coming weeks, NYPD will step up police presence and enforcement of dangerous driving behaviors “around sunset hours when data show serious pedestrian crashes increase,” according to a DOT press release. NYPD will also conduct targeted enforcement at intersections with high rates of pedestrian injuries and deaths.

In addition, NYPD and DOT will “educate drivers and other New Yorkers at high-priority Vision Zero target areas” by distributing palm cards, the press release says, some of which will remind motorists that they’re required to yield to pedestrians while making left turns.

Senior centers have already received materials on “improving safety conditions in their neighborhoods and sharing tips for getting around safely,” according to DOT. The Times reported that the city will spend $1.5 million on the campaign.

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A Trucker Ran Over a Cyclist, So the 84th Precinct Ticketed Cyclists

Hours after a truck driver ran over a cyclist at Jay and Tillary streets yesterday, officers from the 84th Precinct were out ticketing cyclists.

Streetsblog reader Paul Vogel, a.k.a. @D00rZ0ne, tweeted photos of officers ticketing people on bikes during the evening rush at the intersection, where a driver in what appeared to be an oversized rig critically injured a 35-year-old man Tuesday morning.

As we wrote yesterday, it is illegal to operate a tractor-trailer carrying boxed or other loose cargo on New York City streets if the total truck length exceeds 55 feet. NYPD did not ticket or charge the driver.

As of August, the 84th Precinct had cited just nine drivers for truck route violations in all of 2016, giving trucking companies carte blanche to put people in danger while breaking city traffic laws.

We called the 84th Precinct this morning. Both officers we spoke with said they didn’t know anything about yesterday’s collision or whether precinct officers were enforcing truck regulations after the crash.

If you’d like to speak with Deputy Inspector Sergio Centa, commanding officer of the 84th Precinct, about street safety and traffic enforcement, the precinct community council meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Call 718-875-6850 for location information.

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Drivers Have Killed Seven People in Bike-Obsessed 19th Precinct in 2016

mcpherson-kallos

19th Precinct CO Deputy Inspector Clint McPherson and City Council Member Ben Kallos

Blanca Pagan, the senior who was struck last Friday by a driver who failed to yield, was at least the seventh pedestrian killed by a motorist this year in the 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side. Deputy Inspector Clint McPherson, the precinct’s commanding officer, has prioritized ticketing people on bikes, with encouragement from local City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick.

Pagan, 73, was in the crosswalk at York Avenue and E. 89th Street at around 3 p.m. when Pjerin Gjerji hit her with a Chevrolet van while turning right from York onto 89th, NYPD told Gothamist. Police charged Gjerji, 48, with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

Pagan, who lived nearby, was a retired nurse who came to NYC from Puerto Rico when she was a child, the Daily News reported. She died less than three weeks after a motorist struck and killed Lee Strong while backing into a crosswalk at Third Avenue and E. 71st Street, also in the 19th Precinct.

City crash data show the 19th Precinct has a high rate of traffic injuries compared to other precincts. Motorists have killed at least 13 people walking in the 19th Precinct in the last 24 months, according to data compiled by Streetsblog.

The crash that killed Blanca Pagan occurred in Kallos’s City Council district. To hear McPherson and Kallos tell it, cyclists are the 19th Precinct’s most pressing traffic hazard.

McPherson was named the precinct CO this year after his predecessor, Deputy Inspector James M. Grant, was identified as a target of an NYPD corruption investigation. “From what I understand, bikes are a big problem,” McPherson said at a precinct community council meeting, not long after taking over for Grant — who himself concentrated on bike crackdowns as motorists killed people in crosswalks.

“One of the top complaints I get in the district is about bikes,” Kallos told Our Town after a bike ticket blitz earlier this year, which according to Our Town was conducted in collaboration with Kallos and Garodnick.

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De Blasio Promises “More Visible Impact” on Reducing Traffic Deaths

Appearing with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer for his weekly “Ask the Mayor” segment this morning, Mayor de Blasio said the city’s Vision Zero effort is “still in its infancy” and that “there’s a lot more to do.” The remarks come at a time when the city’s two-year run of reducing traffic deaths seems increasingly unlikely to continue in 2016.

Bill_de_Blasio_11-2-2013

Mayor Bill de Blasio

While the mayor said “traffic designs” are an important component of Vision Zero, he did not say that he intends to accelerate investment in safer street configurations.

A caller had asked de Blasio why the city’s Vision Zero policies do not target pedestrian behavior. “People have to take personal responsibilities,” the caller argued, suggesting that the city pursue pedestrian education or jaywalking enforcement.

While de Blasio said he himself had encountered “folks with the headphones on who walk into the crosswalk,” he attributed the source of danger to motorist behavior:

The core of the problem is not the pedestrian or the bicyclist, it’s the person who’s driving a vehicle and is speeding, or going through an intersection without yielding to pedestrians. That’s what Vision Zero is first addressing, but we have given tickets to bicyclists who endanger others, we have given tickets to pedestrians who put themselves in harm’s way and could create an accident that could affect many others. We’ll do that in some measure, but from a resource perspective and just in general, that’s not where our first energies are going to go.

The mayor went on to pledge that Vision Zero “is something we’re going to continue to deepen.”

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