Another elected official has jumped on the traffic-calming bandwagon.
Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens) was joined by advocacy groups and residents on Monday to announce the Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014, which would require the state to address the increase in serious injuries and fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists.
“The recent string in traffic-related deaths in and around Queens demands our immediate attention to find solutions,” Crowley said during the event in Jackson Heights. “That’s why I am introducing a bill that requires states to do just that. We need to ensure the federal highway safety funds at their disposal are put toward achieving our goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities to zero. It’s time to put an end to the tragedy on our streets.”
The event was held on Northern Boulevard and 80th Street, where an 11-year-old boy was fatally struck while crossing the boulevard on his way to school in Dec. 2012.
Northern Boulevard has claimed many lives over the past two years, including those of a 2-year-old boy who was hit near Junction Boulevard in November 2013 and an 8-year-old PS 152 student who was killed by a tractor trailer while crossing the boulevard at 61st Street in Woodside.
The legislation closely reflects Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero project that also aims to reduce pedestrian fatalities in the city to zero.
As it stands, states are required to submit a Strategic Highway Safety Plan to the Federal Highway Administration in order to receive general highway safety funds.
Despite that, the federal law does not require states to include statistics on pedestrian injuries and fatalities on their SHSPs. Crowley’s act would mandate that information be included as well as require states to demonstrate how they will address any increase in these incidents at both the state and county levels.
“Pedestrian safety is a vitally important issue for my district and citywide,” Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “Too many individuals, including the 11-year-old boy who was hit by a truck and killed right here in Jackson Heights, have died on our streets. I have worked with the Department of Transportation to implement Neighborhood Slow Zones and Safe Routes to Schools projects and other pedestrian safety improvements. However, more can always be done ...”
Crowley’s legislation would also update the federal handbook that local and state departments of transportation use when collecting highway safety data. The changes would specify the inclusion of such elements that promote safety for pedestrians.
According to the congressman, federal road safety policies are geared toward motorists and leave out others who, in cities like New York, make up an increasingly large portion of people using streets.
The Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act was endorsed by a number of organizations, including the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, League of American Bicyclists and the New York City-based Transportation Alternatives.