Skip to content

Posts from the Vision Zero Category

19 Comments

De Blasio’s Budget Has No Funding Increase for Street Safety Projects

Mayor de Blasio released his executive budget yesterday, and it does not include the increases for street safety projects that the City Council recommended earlier this month, says Transportation Alternatives. Without more funding for street redesigns, TA says, the administration won’t be able to improve safety at the pace needed to attain the mayor’s stated goal of eliminating traffic deaths by 2024.

On street safety, de Blasio hasn’t put his money where his mouth is.

De Blasio’s revised executive budget includes a small 1.3 percent increase for DOT’s Traffic Operations division, which executes the low-cost “operational” street safety projects that can be completed much faster than years-long capital projects. It’s not a meaningful change.

At a March budget hearing in the City Council, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said DOT would need to double the number of low-cost redesigns projects it completes each year in order to meet its Vision Zero goals.

At the same hearing, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said it would take “many billions of dollars” to redesign the priority corridors and intersections identified in the city’s pedestrian safety plans, while insisting, “We very much feel we have the resources we need.”

But at the current pace of improvement, NYC won’t get to zero traffic deaths until the 2050s.

The City Council recommended an additional $52.4 million in FY 2017 for 98 “operational” projects in its response to the mayor’s budget, a roughly 25 percent increase. The council also proposed $250 million in annual capital funding for street redesigns.

The budget City Hall released yesterday follows none of those recommendations.

Read more…

24 Comments

Adding Curb Space for Cars vs. Space for Bikes — DOT’s Double Standard

Whenever curb space is reallocated for bike parking in New York City, the process is intensive. Getting NYC DOT to install a bike corral usually involves lots of signature gathering, and even when a business wants one by their storefront, the local community board can shoot it down. The process can take months or even years, if it ever succeeds at all.

But if DOT decides to add curbside car parking, they often do it without a second thought — or any public notice. Case in point: DOT has added curbside parking at two locations in Park Slope, taking away a loading zone on one street and hindering visibility on another. Neither change was brought to the local community board prior to implementation.

In October 2013, when this Google Street View photo was taken, there was roughly 15 yards of open curb on the northern corner of Baltic Street at Fifth Avenue. Approaching drivers and pedestrians could get a clear view of each other. But as of September 2014, DOT had removed a “No Standing” sign there. Now motorists may park to the edge of the west crosswalk. This makes it harder for drivers on Baltic, which is one-way eastbound, to see pedestrians as they approach Fifth. Likewise, people in the crosswalks can’t see approaching vehicles as well as before.

From 2009 to 2014, two pedestrians and five cyclists were injured in crashes where Baltic meets Fifth Avenue and Park Place, according to city crash data. Three motor vehicle occupants were also hurt there during that time frame — a sign of collisions occurring at high speeds. Another person was injured at the intersection in 2009, but city data does not indicate whether the victim was walking, riding a bike, or in a car.

New York City allows motorists to park to the edge of crosswalks, but as Streetsblog has reported, the National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 20 to 25 feet of clearance around crosswalks to improve sight lines. Pedestrian deaths and injuries caused by turning drivers are frequent, and a bill pending in the City Council would require DOT to daylight 25 intersections per year. In other municipalities, it is simply illegal to park right up against a crosswalk.

Read more…

7 Comments

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.”

Read more…

84 Comments

No Charges for Cabbie Who Severely Injured Woman on Sidewalk Near NYU

A yellow cab driver severely injured a woman on a sidewalk in Greenwich Village this morning.

The victim was struck at around 10:50 a.m. on University Place near East Eighth Street. Gothamist says she was “pinned between the taxi and a stucco wall.”

A reporter for Washington Square News, an independent NYU outlet, said the victim was unconscious at the scene. “The woman was facing away from the cab, and when it hit her, she went up in the air and the cab basically pinned her against the wall,” a witness said.

The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition, Gothamist reported. No charges were filed against the driver.

Sidewalk collisions resulted in at least 14 fatalities in the last 12 months alone, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. If the city keeps a data set on the number of people hurt and killed by motorists on sidewalks, in buildings, and other places drivers are not supposed to be, we haven’t seen it.

University Place has excess width and not much car traffic. A narrower roadbed and traffic-calming measures might have prevented this crash.

This morning’s crash is reminiscent of the one that cost tourist Sian Green part of her leg in 2013. Since then, the city adopted Cooper’s Law to yank licenses from cab drivers who hurt pedestrians while violating victims’ right of way. But the Taxi and Limousine doesn’t use the law to take reckless cabbies off the road, in part because police and district attorneys so rarely file charges.

1 Comment

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.”

Read more…

5 Comments

DOT Releases Borough-by-Borough Speed Limit Maps

Image: DOT

In Queens, most major surface streets have been re-signed to reflect the default 25 mph speed limit but some streets with higher speed limits remain. Click to enlarge. Image: DOT

DOT has released before-and-after maps for each borough showing how signed speed limits have changed since Mayor de Blasio lowered the city’s default limit to 25 miles per hour in 2014. With the maps, New Yorkers can see which major surface streets are now signed for 25 mph and which have retained higher speed limits.

After the 25 mph default speed limit took effect, DOT left 30 mph signs on some wider streets as it evaluated whether to reduce those speed limits. This caused some uncertainty on streets like Riverside Drive, where new 30 mph signs went up, then were replaced, a year later, with 25 mph signs. Now DOT has wrapped up that process and re-signed 800 miles of streets for 25 mph speed limits.

For the most part, only a few surface streets in each borough are now signed for speed limits higher than 25 mph. There are 200 miles of such streets citywide (about half of them in Queens), compared to 600 miles before the new default limit took effect.

The maps are a useful resource. If you see a 30 mph sign in your neighborhood that you think should have been removed, now you can determine whether the city intended for that street to be signed for that speed or not. The maps can also help people identify streets that still need lower speed limits, or see at a glance which neighborhoods have 20 mph slow zones and which do not.

We’ve posted the maps below, along with a statement from DOT about the process of re-signing streets for the lower speed limit and how it determined exemptions to the 25 mph default. You can also access speed limit information via NYC Open Data or Vision Zero View.

Read more…

17 Comments

Streetsblog FOILs NYPD for Data on Crashes Involving Police

Streetsblog has filed a freedom of information request for NYPD data on traffic crashes involving NYPD personnel.

Photo: ddartley/Flickr

NYPD is the only city agency that does not contribute to a database intended to quantify and reduce fleet vehicle crashes. Photo: ddartley/Flickr

NYPD doesn’t tell the public — or other city agencies — how many crashes police officers and other department staff get into, or what the costs are in terms of injuries, deaths, and property damage.

When the Department of Citywide Administrative Services last year released an analysis of collisions involving city fleet vehicles, data on NYPD collisions was not included. That’s because NYPD is the only agency that does not contribute to the city database tracking those crashes.

The city’s CRASH database tracks collisions that result in injuries, and specifies how many victims were walking and riding bikes. DCAS called the database “one of our major commitments as part of Vision Zero for the city fleet,” but Mayor de Blasio has not compelled NYPD to participate.

As NYPD stonewalls, the annual comptroller’s report on claims against the city, including those stemming from vehicle crashes, may be instructive. In FY 2014, NYPD had “the highest settlement and judgment costs” of all city agencies, according to Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office. The FY 14 total of $216.9 million in NYPD-related payouts marked a significant increase from the $138 million the department cost the city in FY 2013.

On-duty NYPD officers have struck and killed at least three pedestrians since 2012, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog, and NYPD chases have resulted in the deaths of several others. The crash that killed Brooklyn teacher Felix Coss, and the pending lawsuit filed by the victim’s family, made national news recently when Streetsblog posted video that showed the officer who hit Coss failed to yield. The problem of vehicle crashes that involve police is significant enough that former comptroller John Liu recommended “on-going training regarding police vehicle chases that balance both law enforcement goals and liability concerns.”

In our freedom of information request, we asked NYPD for the most recent five years of department data on collisions involving NYPD vehicles, on-duty personnel, and vehicles and drivers contracted by the department. We’ll keep you posted.

1 Comment

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.

Read more…

No Comments

Van Bramer Wants Better Crash Data on the City’s Vision Zero View Map

DOT's VIsion Zero View online platforms visualizes crash injury and fatality data. Image: Vision Zero View

The city’s Vision Zero View map shows traffic injuries (orange) and fatalities (red), but a lot of useful information could still be added. Image: Vision Zero View

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer has introduced a bill to expand the city’s online publication of crash data.

When City Hall launched Vision Zero View in November 2014, it was a major upgrade. For the first time, New Yorkers could see up-to-date information on where crashes happen, with data refreshed every month. But there’s a lot still missing.

Currently, the platform maps traffic injuries and fatalities each month, and you can filter the view to see only crashes that harmed pedestrians, or cyclists, or motor vehicle occupants. A “street design” tab shows the location of leading pedestrian intervals, arterial slow zones, speed humps, neighborhood slow zones, “safe streets for seniors” zones and “major safety projects.” Users can also see the density of crashes by police precinct, city council district, or community board district.

Van Bramer’s bill, Intro. 1116, would add significantly more detail to Vision Zero View. Under the legislation, the map would distinguish between serious injuries and less severe injuries, which are currently lumped into a single category. The map would also show the approximate time of day that crashes occurred (within a three-hour window), as well as the speed limit of every street in the city.

Read more…

5 Comments

The TLC Has Never Used Cooper’s Law to Permanently Revoke a TLC License

In the 18 months it has been on the books, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has never used Cooper’s Law to permanently revoke the TLC license of a cab driver for hurting or killing someone.

TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi

Cooper’s Law, which took effect in September 2014, allows the TLC to suspend the TLC licenses of cab drivers involved in crashes that result in death or critical injury. If a TLC licensee is convicted of a traffic violation or crime for causing such a crash, the law requires the agency to revoke that person’s TLC license.

The law was named after 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who was killed on the Upper West Side in January 2014 by a yellow cab driver who failed to yield. Cooper’s Law was one of several traffic safety measures adopted to advance Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.

“On the whole our drivers are safe,” TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said at the mayor’s Vision Zero bill signing ceremony, “but there are a few bad apples and we need to remove them.”

That isn’t happening — at least under the aegis of Cooper’s Law.

Vision Zero transparency laws do not require the TLC to publish data on what happens after the agency suspends the TLC license of a driver who hurts or kills someone. Streetsblog filed a freedom of information request in February after several unsuccessful attempts to obtain data on case outcomes from the TLC. We received the agency’s response earlier this week.

“There have been no TLC licensees that have had their license permanently revoked for injuring or killing a pedestrian or cyclist pursuant to Cooper’s Law,” the TLC legal affairs office wrote.

Read more…