Skip to content

Posts from the "Vision Zero" Category

10 Comments

Grand Concourse Will Be the Next Arterial With 25 MPH Limit

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Assembly Member Mark Gjonaj unveil the city's second "arterial slow zone" this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, Council Member Vanessa Gibson, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Assembly Member Mark Gjonaj unveil the city’s second “arterial slow zone” this morning. Photo: Stephen Miller

Local elected officials and advocates joined NYC DOT and NYPD this morning to unveil the city’s second “arterial slow zone” on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, where speed limits will be dropped to 25 mph and traffic signals will be retimed to discourage speeding.

The lower speed limit will apply to 5.2 miles of the Grand Concourse from East 140th Street in Mott Haven to Moshulu Parkway in Bedford Park. Along this stretch of the Grand Concourse, there were 12 fatalities between 2008 and 2012, including seven pedestrians, according to DOT. Speeding is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in New York City.

“This is not the Daytona 500,” said Assembly Member José Rivera at this morning’s event. “We should consider placing speed cameras all along the Grand Concourse.”

That’s unlikely to happen immediately. State law limits speed cameras to streets with school entrances within a quarter-mile, prevents them from operating overnight and on weekends, and caps the number at 20 cameras. (DOT has five cameras running and hopes to bring the remainder online this spring.)

Read more…

4 Comments

Can Vision Zero Survive NYC’s Tabloid Editorial Boards?

New mayor. New DOT commissioner. Same old myopic Daily News editorial board.

The opinion writers who spent four years undermining the implementation of safer street designs want “clear and transparent data” from Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative. Good idea, right? But when the data is right under their noses, they’re still not satisfied.

In a piece that’s ostensibly about holding the city to its traffic safety targets, the Daily News opinion team is still complaining about the Midtown pedestrian plazas on Broadway, which cut pedestrian injuries by 35 percent along the project area. Why? Because the city went ahead and made the safer design permanent, even though, according to the News, data on “average traffic flow rates” didn’t support the initial rationale for the project.

Except they’re wrong — average traffic speeds did increase, according to millions of taxi trips measured with GPS units. All the major nuances in the data (southbound traffic did slow down a tad) are captured in the city’s summary report [PDF].

The Daily News also still has beef with bike lanes, with their unequivocally positive safety record, and Citi Bike, which has recently been opening up all manner of data about bike-share trips.

Meanwhile, the data that street safety advocates really want to see opened up in standard, transparent format — NYPD’s crash information — doesn’t get a mention from the Daily News.

Open data is an absolute necessity for the public to assess policy and hold government accountable. But when the numbers are staring you in the face and you still insist on more data before taking action, maybe you just don’t want things to change. The Daily News opinion page is, after all, the same opinion page that fell back on the “more data” mantra when it called for the city to slow down on the 34th Street separated transitway, which the city abandoned soon after.

Eliminating traffic deaths is an ambitious goal that will require massive change — including more transformative street redesigns than the 34th Street transitway. Can the city make it happen if tabloid opinion writers are pushing against it every step of the way?

No Comments

On Safety, New TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi Has Her Work Cut Out For Her

Two cab drivers fatally struck 22-year-old Kelly Gordon last night as she crossed York Avenue with her sister and a friend. Gordon was at least the fifth person killed by a city cab driver in the last 12 months, and the second this year, after 9-year-old Cooper Stock and his father were hit on the Upper West Side in January.

Meera Joshi

Meera Joshi

With Vision Zero a top priority for Mayor de Blasio, and related legislation pending in the City Council, cab driver safety will be a major issue for Meera Joshi, the former Taxi and Limousine Commission legal director who was confirmed by the council yesterday as the new TLC chair and CEO.

“TLC has a critical role in making Vision Zero a reality,”Joshi said last week. She has her work cut out for her. It was reported yesterday that the cab driver who killed Cooper Stock has not driven a cab since, but only because he has chosen not to. The cabbies who killed 5-year-old Timothy Keith and severed the leg of tourist Sian Green also retained their hack licenses. Last year a TLC database snafu kept thousands of dangerous cabbies behind the wheel. Clearly, when the TLC consistently fails to get reckless cab drivers off the streets, its disciplinary protocol is in need of an overhaul.

To help prevent cab drivers from doing harm in the first place, de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan calls for technology to monitor behavior behind the wheel and ensure compliance with speed limits. This week the City Council introduced enabling legislation for a “black box” pilot program.

What’s needed overall, though, is a culture shift. Cab drivers work brutal hours and are under constant pressure to get to the next fare. As we wrote earlier this year, better driver accountability through Vision Zero safety measures could elevate public esteem for the job and lead to improved working conditions. Before her confirmation Joshi proposed a TLC “honor roll” and financial incentives for the safest drivers.

Joshi has the goodwill of driver lobbying groups, for now, but to get cab drivers onboard to the extent that safe drivers set the tone for the fleet, the TLC will have to ruffle some feathers as well.

3 Comments

De Blasio’s First 100 Days Speech: Vision Zero Has “Just Begun”

Graphic from today's speech via ##https://twitter.com/NYCMayorsOffice/status/454295949049749504##@NYCMayorsOffice##

Graphic from today’s speech via @NYCMayorsOffice

Mayor de Blasio mentioned Vision Zero pretty early in his first 100 days speech this afternoon. He said the program has “just begun” to address what he called a “growing epidemic of pedestrian deaths.” Traffic deaths are down 26 percent, the mayor noted.

There were 51 traffic deaths through the end of March, compared to 69 during the first three months of 2013. Injuries are down 8 percent, from 11,650 to 10,729.

Motorists killed 27 pedestrians and cyclists on surface streets through March, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog, and NYPD data showed 45 pedestrian and cyclist fatalities during the same time frame last year — a 40 percent decrease, though this year’s count may be incomplete at this point.

Also on the transportation front, de Blasio said DOT filled 289,000 potholes in the first quarter, compared to 115,000 in 2013.

16 Comments

Atlantic Ave First of 25 “Arterial Slow Zones” to Get 25 MPH Limit This Year

As drivers zoomed by on Atlantic Avenue this morning, local elected officials and advocates joined NYC DOT and NYPD to unveil the first of the city’s “arterial slow zones,” major streets where the speed limit will be dropped to 25 mph from the current citywide limit of 30 mph. Traffic signals will also be retimed to a 25 mph progression, to help keep motorists’ speeds in check.

25 mph white-and-blue speed limit signs will join retimed lights on Atlantic Avenue and 24 other major streets. Photo: DHFixAtlantic/Twitter

25 mph white-and-blue speed limit signs will join retimed lights on Atlantic Avenue and 24 other major streets. Photo: DHFixAtlantic/Twitter

The arterial slow zone program, mentioned briefly in the city’s Vision Zero action plan in February, will focus on some of the city’s most dangerous streets. Arterials like Atlantic make up only 15 percent of New York’s roadways but account for 60 percent of the city’s pedestrian fatalities, according to DOT.

“New Yorkers are asking what we can do to fix these streets, so today we’re taking immediate action,” said Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

“When we look at the family members who have lost loved ones, the pain never dissipates, and it never stops hurting,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. ”We can have a smooth traffic flow of vehicles without having a reckless and senseless traffic flow of blood.”

Streets chosen for this new program will receive new 25 mph speed limit signs, design fixes from DOT, and focused enforcement by NYPD, though the extent of the design and enforcement changes remained unclear at today’s press conference.

First up: 7.6 miles of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens, from Furman Street in Brooklyn Heights to 76th Street in Woodhaven. (The project does not include the easternmost section of Atlantic as it approaches Jamaica.) From 2008 to 2012, there were 25 traffic fatalities along this section of Atlantic, including 10 pedestrian deaths. DOT said the new speed limit would go into effect by the end of April. By the end of the year, 25 major arterial streets will have lower speed limits and retimed traffic lights, the agency said.

Trottenberg said that these 25 “arterial slow zones” will count toward the 50 “intersections and corridors” the Vision Zero action plan promised would receive “safety engineering improvements” from DOT each year. ”We’re starting with the slow zones but we’re also going to be doing some redesigning, too,” she said.

Read more…

5 Comments

Mark Your Calendars: City Announces Vision Zero Workshops

This afternoon, DOT released the schedule for nine Vision Zero workshops in all five boroughs over the next three months. These workshops build upon the Vision Zero town halls the city is hosting now by asking residents to prioritize street safety initiatives, pinpoint dangerous locations, and discuss solutions with agency staff.

The meetings are intended to inform DOT and NYPD as they develop pedestrian safety plans for each borough. Workshops kick off in Brooklyn before heading to the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and concluding in Staten Island:

  • Thursday, April 24: Brooklyn: Plymouth Church (Hillis Hall), 75 Hicks Street. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 29: Brooklyn: Brooklyn College (Student Center, 2nd Floor), Campus Road and E. 27th Street. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 6: Bronx: Lehman College Music Building (Faculty Dining Room), 250 Bedford Park Boulevard West. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 15: Bronx: Hostos Community College Cafe?, 500 Grand Concourse. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, May 21: Queens: Bohemian Hall, 29-19 24th Avenue. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 29: Queens: Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Avenue. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 11: Manhattan: Our Lady of Pompeii, 25 Carmine Street. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Monday, June 16: Manhattan: Alhambra Ballroom, 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard. 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 26: Staten Island: Curtis High School Cafeteria, 105 Hamilton Avenue. 6:30-8:30 p.m.

“These workshops are an open call for all citizens looking to shape the future of their neighborhoods,” Transportation Commissioner Trottenberg said in a statement. “Building on a city’s worth of local insight, they will lay the groundwork for streets that work better for everyone.”

17 Comments

Full House at First Bronx Vision Zero Town Hall


Over a hundred people turned out for a Vision Zero town hall in the Bronx on Tuesday, Bronx News 12 reports. The event was hosted by freshman City Council Member Ritchie Torres at the Bronx Library Center on East Kingsbridge Road. Council Member Vanessa Gibson, DOT Borough Commissioner Constance Moran, and representatives from NYPD were also on hand.

Norwood resident Jay Shuffield, who helped lead the push for pedestrian safety measures at Williamsbridge Oval, described the forum as “generally productive.”

“There was widespread appreciation for the physical improvements that DOT has been installing, but recurring complaints about NYPD efforts,” Shuffield wrote in a recap for Streetsblog.

Shuffield said Rich Gans, chair of Transportation Alternatives’ Bronx committee, asked NYPD for more failure to yield enforcement, “noting that anytime a driver honks at a pedestrian crossing with the signal they should automatically be cited.” Gans pointed to the need for safer bus stops underneath elevated train tracks throughout the borough, as passengers currently are forced to wait between lanes of auto traffic. Moran replied that DOT is making improvements at some stops, Shuffield said. “There [was] a good [number] of specific intersections that people brought up, and Commissioner Moran was able to provide updates on some of them and DOT took note to look into some others.”

“NYPD did not seem as receptive to taking notes,” wrote Shuffield. “They had good news to share in response to some comments, but it was clear they were there to tell us what they were doing, not to listen to our ideas. One lady described the value of officers on bicycles and asked if the NYPD could do that. They basically just responded that is not something they plan to do.”

When DOT reps were asked if street safety would be component of major development projects in the Bronx, such as Kingsbridge Armory, Shuffield said, “it sounded like there hadn’t been much thought yet in terms of coordinating new development with Vision Zero, but this struck me as another case where [DOT was] listening.”

Laura Solis of Bike New York, shown in the above video, offered to bring bike safety programs to local schools. She likened biking through the intersection of Devoe and East Tremont Avenues in the West Farms area as “a game of chicken,” and advocated for adding bike lanes on arterials to slow drivers. Others brought up dangerous conditions on Grand Concourse and near Co-Op City, according to the Bronx Chronicle.

Read more…

4 Comments

Traffic Deaths Down 26 Percent, Injuries Down 8 Percent So Far in 2014

The Daily News reports that traffic deaths and injuries are down over the first three months of 2014 compared to the same period last year. The improvement is encouraging, and increased traffic enforcement is probably playing a role, but the harsh winter is almost certainly a factor too.

Transit reporter Pete Donohue relays the numbers: Traffic deaths are down 26 percent so far this year, from 69 to 51, and injuries are down 8 percent, from 11,650 to 10,729.

The decline in injuries, which are less subject to random variation than fatalities, suggests that the improvement in safety is real.

Increased traffic enforcement from NYPD and the city’s small speed camera program probably explain some of the decline in traffic violence. Police have started to hand out more tickets for dangerous motor vehicle violations. Summonses for failing to yield to pedestrians doubled the first two months of this year compared to last year, and red-light-running and speeding tickets rose a more modest amount. Meanwhile, the city’s speed cams, only five of which have been turned on, issued 11,715 tickets in their first two-and-a-half months of operation, accounting for a major share of all speeding tickets in the city.

The high profile of Vision Zero may also be having an effect. Elected officials from Mayor de Blasio on down have been talking about the need to prevent traffic violence, and that could be influencing people’s behavior behind the wheel to some extent.

Then there’s the weather. In 2012, when traffic deaths increased nationally for the first time in seven years, the mild winter was cited as a potential factor. The harsh winter in NYC this year may have produced the opposite effect. New Yorkers were less exposed to traffic violence because they were walking and biking less, and drivers may have been less inclined to speed with more ice and slush coating the streets. We don’t have national figures yet to determine if the change in NYC is specific to the city or part of a broader trend.

While it’s too early to say exactly what’s causing the improvement in street safety this year, it looks like NYPD’s shifting enforcement priorities are helping and so is the city’s fledgling automated speed enforcement program, but we still need to do a whole lot more.

3 Comments

Officials Talk Crash Prevention at Packed Brooklyn Vision Zero Town Hall

Last night, Brooklynites filled Borough Hall, spilling into an overflow room for a Vision Zero town hall meeting with elected officials and city agency staffers. Among those on hand were Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, Public Advocate Letitia James, and Borough President Eric Adams. Streetsblog wasn’t able to make it to the forum, but here’s a snapshot of what unfolded and how elected officials reacted, based on reports from attendees and the Twitterverse.

Public Advocate Letitia James speaks at yesterday's Vision Zero town hall in Brooklyn. Photo: Matthew Chayes/Twitter

Public Advocate Letitia James speaks at yesterday’s Vision Zero town hall in Brooklyn. Photo: Matthew Chayes/Twitter

Like most Vision Zero town halls, the event did not feature groundbreaking policy announcements, but instead helped solidify the city’s commitment to addressing traffic violence, as electeds heard from dozens of Brooklynites concerned about dangerous streets.

Days after DOT identified Atlantic Avenue as one of its Vision Zero priorities, Brooklynites testified last night about other streets they want the city to redesign. Public Advocate Letitia James joined the public in listing streets she wanted prioritized for safety fixes, including Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard, where 5-year-old Roshard Charles was killed by a hit-and-run driver last month.

Jean Ryan of Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York estimated that about 50 people spoke. “It was mostly dealing with specific problems or intersections,” she said. Much of the testimony came from Brooklynites who have either been injured by drivers or lost family members to traffic violence, including Roshard Charles’ mother, Rochelle.

“Albany does not live on Albany Avenue in Brooklyn, while children are dying,” Borough President Eric Adams said, urging the state to hand over control of speed limits and automated enforcement to the city.

After the event, Council Member David Greenfield tweeted that his favorite idea of the night was a zero-tolerance crackdown by NYPD on drivers who park on sidewalks. “We have to admit that the bulk of the problems come from the drivers,” he said.

“It’s not an ‘accident waiting to happen.’ It’s a ‘preventable crash waiting to happen.’ Let’s prevent it,” Council Member Brad Lander tweeted after hearing testimony last night.

7 Comments

Cumbo Calls for Safer Atlantic Ave, and Trottenberg Promises Action

Photo: Ben Fried

City Council Member Laurie Cumbo with advocates from the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, Make Brooklyn Safer, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, New York League of Conservation Voters, and Transportation Alternatives. Photo: Ben Fried

Minutes after Council Member Laurie Cumbo and street safety advocates called for immediate action to reduce traffic violence on Atlantic Avenue, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the audience at a Vision Zero forum in Crown Heights last night that DOT intends to make Atlantic one of its early priorities for safety fixes.

Atlantic Avenue is one of the biggest and most dangerous streets in the city, running east-west across the length of Brooklyn. It routinely ranks near the top of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign’s list of the borough’s deadliest streets for pedestrians. From 2002 to 2013, more than 1,400 pedestrians and cyclists were injured on Atlantic.

At a press conference preceding last night’s Vision Zero town hall at Medgar Evers College, Cumbo stressed the need to act soon. “We can’t wait for another child to be the face of why we need Vision Zero,” she said. “So many of these accidents could be avoided with the right measures.”

As it happens, the city intends to tackle Atlantic Avenue soon. During the forum, Trottenberg said Atlantic would be one of the 50 street safety projects DOT takes on this year. Noting that Atlantic Avenue is a big, wide, heavily trafficked street, Trottenberg said, “That’s the kind of street that DOT views as a challenge, and we want to step up.” The city’s Vision Zero action plan calls for “arterial slow zones” on streets like Atlantic that see a disproportionate share of injuries and deaths.

Read more…