Legislation for Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative was signed into law on the corner where it all started.
“Last time we were here in January, we were responding to a tragic loss,” de Blasio said on Monday morning at the corner of Northern Boulevard and 61st Street in Woodside. “Today, we’re again at the spot where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer in December.”
In was on this corner that de Blasio announced he was out to eliminate pedestrian fatalities by 2024 and now, six months later, 11 bills, recently approved by the City Council, were signed by the mayor.
The legislation covers a number of issues, from penalizing drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians who have the right of way to giving the Taxi and Limousine Commission the ability to revoke drivers’ cabbie licenses if they fatally strike someone or partake in dangerous driving.
“We have great drivers but this and all of the other pieces of legislation will allow us to swiftly remove the few bad apples we have on our roads,” TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said.
The ceremony was attended by a number of families who lost loved ones in traffic accidents. Many of them joined the activist group Families for Safe Streets and pushed lawmakers to introduce more traffic-calming measures on the city’s roads.
“If you listen carefully, you can hear the children of PS 152, of which Vincent Vitolo is principal, laughing and playing,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “There is no better sound. I want to hear more of that instead of yet another mother sobbing because her son or daughter was killed by a reckless driver.”
Van Bramer acknowledged the Nahian family for bravely speaking out against dangerous driving. Noshat’s mother, Nargish, broke down as her husband, Mohammed, clutched a picture of their little boy.
“When you think about Vision Zero, all its components, it so fundamentally comes down to reducing speeding, reducing reckless driving,” de Blasio said. “This is an essential element to that plan. It has been achieved.”
The mayor praised the state Legislature for recently authorizing the city to establish a default citywide speed limit of 25 miles an hour.
The bill signing also comes just as the NYPD began a three-week enforcement initiative targeting high collision areas in every precinct. At least two intersections are being heavily monitored in each area.
Moving forward, as the Department of Transportation, NYPD and TLC continue working together, residents will be able to report dangerous corridors in their neighborhoods.
“We’ve been conducting town hall meetings and workshops all over the city in all five boroughs,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said. “We have set up a website where you can actually go on and pinpoint locations and put in, like ‘there should be more time for pedestrians to cross’ or you want to ban a left turn. For us, it is absolutely fundamental that we hear from local residents in communities all over the city. You live in the neighborhoods, you have the best sense of all of what we should be doing.”
The bill-signing ceremony also gave de Blasio and Trottenberg the opportunity to tour the recently redesigned intersection where Noshat died.
A pedestrian island was constructed in the middle of Northern Boulevard, traffic signals have been timed so there’s a pedestrian-only crossing time and crosswalk lines are more visible.