Bicycle advocates may be upset by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's new parking proposals, but their frustration was tempered by a victory Wednesday as the City Council approved legislation that requires the city to release data about traffic safety and bike crashes, which they hope will save lives. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.
When there's a murder in New York City, or a robbery or an assault, New York City Police Department reports it to the public. But the department's statistics on car accidents, bike crashes, and collisions involving pedestrians aren't nearly as easy to pin down. At least not right now.
“I think this is very relevant data and I do think it should be looked at,” said the council speaker.
The City Council unanimously approved a slate of legislation Wednesday that requires the police to disclose more data about traffic and bicycle accidents. Council members and advocates say it will help New Yorkers.
“If knowledge is power then this bill gives communities the power to make themselves safer,” said Councilwoman Jessica Lappin. “We know anecdotally where there are dangerous intersections in our respective communities, but this lets us move beyond rumor into fact.”
The NYPD will be required to publish a searchable database, updated monthly, about traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities. It will be so detailed that New Yorkers will be able to put look up the accident history at a specific intersection. The department will also have to say how many moving violation tickets are handed out.
“Right now, New Yorkers are really in the dark about what the NYPD is writing traffic tickets for and what numbers and what locations, and whether or not that enforcement activity is directly related to the injuries and fatalities occurring on our streets,” said Paul Steely White of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
The city's Department of Transportation will also get involved. It will be required to publish a report every five years that looks at all traffic crashes resulting in a serious injury or death. The department will name and rank the 20 most dangerous intersections in New York.
The legislation comes at a time of intense debate over the proliferation of bike riders – and bike lanes – in NYC. And the release of this new accident data seems poised to play a key role in that fight.
“Before they go ahead and establish additional bike lanes, I would like them to analyze this data,” said Councilman James Vacca.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to sign the legislation.