StreetsPAC's Testimony to City Council on Street Safety Infrastructure and Vision Zero

We testified at yesterday's New York City Council Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure oversight hearing on street safety infrastructure and Vision Zero, and in support of two bills that would require daylighting and installation of bollards at intersections, respectively, as well as a resolution calling on Albany to enact legislation that would allow the city to set a five mile-per-hour speed limit on Open Streets. We also joined Families for Safe Streets, City Council Transportation and Infrastructure Chair Selvena Brooks-Powers, and other electeds for a press conference ahead of the hearing. Our full testimony follows below.

The critical importance of designing safety features into New York City’s streets was underscored by the horrific events in Brooklyn on Monday, in which the driver of a rented U-Haul truck, by all appearances intentionally, ran down several people in what can only be described as an act of terrorism. It’s impossible to say if specific pieces of infrastructure could have prevented or reduced any of yesterday’s injuries, but we know that design interventions work, and we must make the commitment as a city and a society to invest in the safety of our fellow New Yorkers, especially those not wrapped in a couple tons of steel.

We know this committee intends to soon hold a hearing on enforcement strategies, but we must also understand that we can’t enforce our way to Vision Zero. Therefore, it’s crucial that we use design to slow drivers down, improve visibility and force slower turns at intersections with daylighting, curb extensions, and raised crosswalks, and much more. These efforts should be data-driven, with a focus on the streets and intersections with the highest incidences of crashes, injuries, and deaths, but should also account for historical inequities in investment in safe street designs.

New York City’s Streets Plan gets a lot of this right, and we must make sure that the Department of Transportation has the tools and funding it needs to execute the Streets Plan and meet its important benchmarks in a timely manner. We need to push forward with building complete streets that allocate safe, separated spaces for people on foot and on bikes, and prioritizing transit to make it easier for people to leave cars at home, or not have a car at all.

We also need to think about how we can use design inside vehicles to improve safety outside of vehicles. The city’s initial Intelligent Speed Assistance pilot program has been a tremendous success, achieving 99% compliance with speed limits, and NYCDOT has won a federal grant to expand ISA to an additional 7,500 city vehicles. Is there a legislative solution to requiring ISA in private cars? Is there a way the city can regulate the exploding growth in the size and power of SUVs? Or the proliferation of electronic distractions inside cars? What about adopting London’s Direct Vision standards for trucks? These are all things that this committee and the City Council should explore.

Finally, while we believe all the legislation being considered today is well intentioned, we would prefer that DOT be able to focus on doing things rather than creating reports on things for which we largely know the answers. We do, however, want to note our support for two bills, as well as a resolution on the agenda.

We support Int. 0854, which would require the city to daylight a minimum of 100 intersections per year. While DOT is likely doing this already, or aiming to do this, we believe that the codification of benchmarks is justified. We think that the Council should be open to negotiation on the bills reporting requirements, but we support formal goals for daylighting.

We also support Int. 0879, which would require the city to install bollards at intersections throughout the city undergoing reconstruction for accessibility. People on sidewalks, or on bike paths, for that matter, shouldn’t have to fear being run down by a wayward driver, or one intending harm. We’ve physically protected the Hudson River Greenway with bollards, but we shouldn’t have to wait for the next act of terror, intentional or not, to safeguard human beings the way we do the New York Stock Exchange. 

Lastly, we support Resolution 0441, which calls on Albany to pass and enact legislation that would allow New York City to set a five mile-per-hour speed limit on Open Streets. This is a common-sense solution that would vastly improve safety in shared spaces, and we urge this committee and the full Council to ask the State to prioritize this.

Do you like this post?

Showing 1 reaction

published this page in News 2023-02-15 14:24:02 -0500
StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.