StreetsPAC Strongly Supports Bill Requiring Installation of Bollards Around Schools, Plazas and Priority Intersections

StreetsPAC submitted the following testimony today to the New York City Council's Committee on Transportation:

StreetsPAC strongly supports Intro 1658, legislation that would require the Department of Transportation to install bollards adjacent to schools, pedestrian plazas and priority intersections.

Advocates have been warning about the need to physically protect pedestrians from motor vehicles for years.  Approximately 10% of pedestrian deaths in New York City occur when drivers of motor vehicles strike victims on sidewalks.  The fact that, historically, all but a handful of these incidents have been unintentional, offers little comfort to victims, or their families or friends.

And now a new threat imperils pedestrians.  Whether it’s a deliberate terror attack, as we’ve seen on multiple occasions in London over the past few months, and in Nice last summer, or the act of a mentally unstable individual, as we experienced firsthand in Times Square just a few weeks ago, a car or truck can be turned into a deadly weapon with no advance warning.

Alyssa Elsman, the young woman killed when Richard Rojas steered his car onto the sidewalk at 7th Avenue and 42nd Street on May 18, would likely be alive today if the bollards protecting the Thomson Reuters building at 3 Times Square had been placed at the curb line instead of along the building’s façade.  Thankfully, a metal bollard at the corner of 7th Avenue and 45th Street put an end to Rojas’s carnage.

People-protecting bollards are prevalent in many densely populated cities in Europe and around the globe.  And while protective bollards have been installed in numerous locations around New York City, in too many cases, as at 3 Times Square, they’ve been deployed to protect property rather than pedestrians.  As we’ve seen too often, the human body makes for a very “soft target” for a speeding car or truck.

As Transportation Alternatives wrote in “Rethinking Bollards,” their excellent 2007 white paper outlining how bollards can save lives and prevent injuries, “the potential to deploy bollards to protect pedestrians and enhance our public spaces… remains severely underexploited.”

We urge the Committee on Transportation to vote Intro 1658 out of committee as soon as possible, we urge the full Council to pass it quickly, and we urge Mayor de Blasio to sign it into law without delay.

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