Major changes to city road rules are set to hit the five boroughs and not everyone is happy about it.
Mayor de Blasio released details for “Vision Zero,” an initiative that aims to eliminate traffic fatalities within 10 years.
“As a parent, know that, particularly in this crowded, dense city, the danger is lurking at all times for our children,” the mayor said at a press conference held on Tuesday. “That’s why we have to act. We have to act aggressively, and we won’t wait to act, because we have to protect our children, and we have to protect all New Yorkers now.”
Last month, de Blasio pledged to roll out a detailed plan for Vision Zero. In 2013, 286 people were killed in traffic accidents, just 50 fewer than in homicides.
Queens had the highest number of pedestrian deaths in the city.
Under the Vision Zero action plan, 63 specific initiatives will be managed by a variety of offices and agencies including the NYPD, Department of Transportation and Taxi and Limousine Commission.
Some of these initiatives include harsher punishments on unlicensed drivers, reducing the default speed limit to 25 miles per hour and the deployment of red-light cameras at 150 locations.
“This is a new approach that we believe will truly save lives,” de Blasio said. “Reducing the citywide speed limit has received tremendous support already in the City Council, and we believe it’s the most holistic way to approach the problem with our partners in Albany.”
The idea behind the reduced speed limit is the likelihood of a fatal crash drops significantly for speeds below 30 miles per hour.
While many elected officials and residents agree with most of the plan, one piece has stirred up a bit of controversy.
According to the mayor, taxi drivers will have special sensors placed in their cars that automatically turn the fare meter off if the vehicle drives 10 miles above the posted speed limit.
“I don’t understand why they’re punishing us,” one driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “I do good work and I don’t want to feel like I have the city breathing down my neck when I’m behind the wheel.”
Other drivers expressed similar concerns.
However, elected officials in Western Queens — who have actively called on the DOT to rectify dangerous corridors for years — are thrilled with the proposal.
“I am pleased Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero Report includes support for my bill to increase penalties on suspended and unlicensed drivers,” said state Sen. Mike Gianaris (D-Astoria) in a prepared statement. “Too many lives are needlessly lost at the hands of reckless drivers who should not be on our streets. I look forward to working with the Mayor to make our streets safer for all New Yorkers.”
In addition to the announced initiative, de Blasio is expecting the Vision Zero task force to produce a list of 50 corridors each year that need to be addressed.
An announcement of the first corridors should be released in the coming weeks.