New York

‘Vision Zero Has Just Begun,’ Mayor de Blasio Says, Nearly 3 Years After Announcing Vision Zero

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“The bottom line is, Vision Zero has just begun,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday, which is an odd way to open a press conference addressing an initiative that’s now more than two years old.

Ideally, the mayor means to say that Vision Zero is just warming up — that the long-delayed redesigns to priority corridors are on their way. That, despite 25 more pedestrian and cyclist fatalities so far this year than over the same period in 2015, those numbers will somehow dwindle to zero by the target date of 2024. That cops will stop parking in bike lanes.

Today the mayor, along with DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and several members of the NYPD, sat before a room full of reporters and detailed the ways in which the city has cracked down on drivers this holiday season.

According to Police Commissioner James O’Neill, traffic fatalities between October 27th and November 27th have plummeted, down from 30 in 2015 to 14. The NYPD, he said, will continue to target speeders and distracted drivers in the coming months, since December is “a historically perilous time of year” on account of the darkness that blankets the city starting around 4 p.m.

Drivers have to be extra careful when turning into crosswalks, he said, along with the assurance that “double parkers blocking the bike lanes will be summonsed.”

This seems dubious, considering that some of the most flagrant offenders are cops themselves — there is, after all, an entire, very well-populated blog addressing this issue.

Asked by a reporter whether police will be actively policing themselves when it comes to parking in bike lanes, the NYPD’s Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said the department has issued 60,000 parking summonses to cars committing that particular transgression, and that he anticipates “that we’re going to continue to do so.”

“Again, we certainly discourage our officers from blocking those lanes and committing violations, and causing a problem for our bicyclists,” he added. Perhaps they should discourage harder. Laypeople can also report offending cars to 311.

The press conference also marked the release of TrafficStat, a CompStat-like initiative that makes crash data available each week, allowing users to sort by location, time, day and incident. It does not, however, distinguish between types of fatalities, nor does it include enforcement data.

“TrafficStat is about identifying times and places where we have persistent problems, and going at them,” de Blasio said. “We want to public to see that in real time. We want the public to hold us accountable for the changes we have to make.”

The NYPD also instated what it calls “targeted enforcement” between 4 and 9 p.m., flooding certain parts of the city with officers in order to catch speeders and distracted drivers. Between October 17th and 23rd, the agency issued 3,915 speeding summonses, and between October 24th and 30th, 2,381 cell phone summonses and 1,526 texting summonses.

Transportation Alternative’s Paul Steely White wrote in a statement that he’s glad to see that the NYPD is increasing enforcement against reckless driving, but he’d rather see such enforcement become a habit:

“Instead of brief enforcement blitzes followed by a return to business as usual, however, we need a sustained effort that focuses on these deadly driver behaviors all year long, across the precincts, to save lives in every community,” he said.

Since the launch of Vision Zero, de Blasio said that the behavior of drivers was beginning to change.

“That’s one of the number one things that we see,” he said. “Drivers are increasingly aware that they break the law, that they put people’s lives in danger, there will be consequences.”

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