In response to the death of 84-year-old Aglaia Gouaris, who was struck by a driver in Queens last week, the 109 Precinct has announced that it will be cracking down on jaywalking offenses. The decision was supported by Queens Assemblyman Mike Simanowitz who, in an interview with DNAInfo, acknowledged that people may be upset by the crackdown, but said they’d find little sympathy from him.
“Don’t call me,” he told the website. “I’m not going to agree with you. If you’re crossing in the middle of the street, you’re wrong, you’re endangering yourself, you’re endangering others, you’re endangering drivers. Cross at the green, not in-between, and hopefully we will be able to reduce the number of traffic fatalities.”
The announcement prompted a bit of an outcry from transportation advocates who took exception to the city more or less blaming pedestrian deaths on pedestrians themselves, rather than the drivers of the vehicles that kill them. But as we have reported, the entire city is already in the midst of a jaywalking crackdown, and has been since the implementation of Vision Zero — which was enacted in early 2014 in response to a spate of traffic fatalities. Officials just haven’t been willing to admit it. In our September 16 cover story we wrote:
If trends from the first part of this year hold, the number of summonses in 2015 will be significantly higher than the average since 2008. Through August 31, the NYPD has issued 715 citations, which, when projected over the remaining months, would suggest about 1,072 summonses for the year. That’s certainly fewer than the 1,979 issued last year, but it’s still more than twice the annual average of about 450 racked up between 2008 and 2013.
The 109 Precinct hasn’t issued a single summons for jaywalking this year (at least through June, the last month for which data is available) but last year they handed out a total of 62. That’s far fewer than the 46 Precinct (in the South Bronx), which issued 242 summonses in 2014, the highest number in the city. But many precincts issued zero in 2104, the 109 was hardly slacking.
Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, released a statement criticizing the new focus in the 109.
“In the era of Vision Zero, traffic enforcement should be informed by the data, not by anecdote or, in this case, the myth that pedestrians are most often responsible for their own demise,” Steely White wrote.
Allison Liao was killed in 109th Pct. Shame on these people. https://t.co/VrIgaQH4ub
— Brad Aaron (@BradAaron) November 10, 2015
Queens needs better political and police leadership. Zero vision. https://t.co/ln06Y6LUGV
— Eric McClure (@EricMcClureBK) November 10, 2015
Politicians are really scared. They simply can't tell drivers, "Stop killing people." https://t.co/so4UBQm2Fo
— Brooklyn Spoke (@BrooklynSpoke) November 10, 2015