More than 300 New Yorkers, including the families of traffic crash victims, elected officials and community leaders, held a massive rally Sunday by bicycling from all five boroughs to the Hudson River Greenway, site of last month’s attack on cyclists and pedestrians, and into City Hall Park.
The rally, in honor of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, drew attention to Vision Zero’s progress and demanded that Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo take immediate action to reduce risk faced by cyclists and pedestrians.
“New York is the greatest city in the world, and our ambitions must rise above simply being able to walk or bicycle without fear of death,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said. “The groundwork for a people-first New York -- where the streets, sidewalks, and public spaces suit the needs of everyone, not just motor vehicles -- must be laid now. If Mayor de Blasio wants to save lives, there needs to be Vision Zero in every decision.”
After reading the names of all 198 people who have been killed in traffic crashes in the city so far in 2017, speakers called on City Hall to increase its commitment to safer streets and for Albany to enact expansion of the city’s speed camera program. State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) proposed legislation to add 610 cameras, up from the current 140 school-zone locations citywide, to better protect 1 million students, teachers and parents traveling to and from school.
“As we gather here today and remember our loved ones who tragically lost their lives in crashes, it is vital that we work together and put all the necessary measures in place to increase street safety for all New Yorkers, including my bill to expand the school area speed camera program,” Peralta said. “This proposal is about saving lives, and I will fight tirelessly in Albany until it becomes a reality. Year after year, there seems to be a little bit of progress, but we don’t cross the finish line. Well, this year we need to cross the finish line.”
Meanwhile, the City Council passed two pieces of landmark street safety legislation authored by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) Nov. 16. The two measures, Intro 1116 and Intro 1257, build on the city’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to eliminate injuries and fatalities on city streets.
Into 1257, the Safe Routes to School Plan, requires the city Department of Transportation to identify the 50 most dangerous intersections at schools and develop comprehensive plans to enhance safety at those intersections. Intro 1116 codifies and strengthens the use of the Vision Zero Portal and will ensure that the public has access at all times to valuable traffic data.
“Any day that we can make our city’s streets safer for pedestrians, especially children, is a good day,” Van Bramer said. “Following the tragic death in 2013 of Noshat Nahian by PS 152 on Northern Boulevard in Woodside, I swore to fight to make Vision Zero a reality. Today, by passing the Safe Routes to School Action Plan, the City Council has made a commitment to keep our students safe on their way to and from school.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr
©2017 Community News Group
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