During one of his first visits to Queens since entering office, Mayor de Blasio announced his “Vision Zero” initiative to reduce the number of traffic fatalities in the city to zero within 10 years.
The project was announced just days before a study reported Queens having the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the city.
“This will be a top-to-bottom effort to take on dangerous streets and dangerous driving,” de Blasio said at a Jan. 15 press conference in Woodside. “We aren’t going to wait and lose a son, a daughter, a parent or a grandparent in another senseless and painful tragedy. Our top responsibility is protecting the health and safety of our people. From tougher enforcement to more safely designed streets and stronger laws, we’ll confront this problem from every side, and it starts today.”
The announcement was held near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 61st Street, the corner where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was struck and killed by a tractor trailer in the crosswalk while walking to school with his sister in December.
De Blasio charged the NYPD, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Taxi & Limousine Commission with developing a comprehensive road map to eliminate deadly crashes.
So far in 2014, 11 people have been killed in traffic in the city; seven were pedestrians.
“Our job is to save lives,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said. “We will be just as aggressive in preventing a deadly crash on our streets as we are in preventing a deadly shooting. Our police are going to enforce the laws on our streets consistently and effectively. This is going to be central to our work to keep New Yorkers safe. We will put the personnel and resources in place to protect New Yorkers.”
Under the mayor’s initiative, the working group must report to him by Feb. 15 with concrete plans to dedicate sufficient NYPD resources and personnel to deter dangerous behavior — especially speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians — improve at least 50 dangerous corridors annually, expand the number of 20-mile-per-hour zones across the city and pursue a traffic safety agenda which he said must include a home rule on traffic cameras, so New York City can deploy red light and speed enforcement cameras.
Queens elected officials praised de Blasio for his “Vision Zero” project.
“My mother was killed by a drunk driver, so I take traffic safety issues very personally,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “That’s why I am so impressed with the mayor’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan and am optimistic that its goal of reducing the number of traffic deaths to zero will become a welcome reality.”
Transportation Alternatives, an activist group, was also happy with the plan.
“It’s time to put a stop to this epidemic,” Executive Director Paul Steely White said. “Transportation Alternatives is ready to work with Mayor de Blasio, Police Commissioner Bratton, incoming DOT Commissioner Trottenberg and families affected by traffic violence to support this partnership, because all New Yorkers have the right to safe streets.”