Surrounded by families of traffic accident victims, Mayor Bill de Blasio is taking aim at traffic safety in the city. He has big plans to improve dangerous roads and intersections, but some of them require approval from Albany, approval that has proved to be been difficult to achieve. Grace Rauh filed the following report.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says he is trying to end traffic deaths in New York City. It is an ambitious goal, part of an effort known as Vision Zero.
So far this year, there have been 11 traffic-related fatalities in the city, seven of them pedestrians. Preliminary numbers show that there were 286 traffic-related deaths last year, the majority of them pedestrians.
"It is very personal for me because I can see it through the eyes of my fellow parents and of course every one of us thinks, 'What if that was my child?'" said de Blasio.
The mayor outlined his agenda near the intersection of Northern Boulevard and 61st Street in Woodside, where an 8-year-old boy was hit by a truck and killed on his way to school in December.
The mayor says starting Thursday the city will begin issuing tickets, instead of just warnings, for violations caught by its speed cameras. It has six up so far. The police department is also increasing its Highway Division staff.
The mayor says he wants more 20 mile-per-hour zones and says he will try to improve conditions in the fifty most dangerous intersections or streets in the city. He also plans to make the case in Albany that the city should be able to install its own traffic cameras.
Last spring, Mayor Michael Bloomberg engaged in a bitter fight to get 20 speed cameras near schools. He lashed out at lawmakers blocking the bill.
“Maybe you want to give those phone numbers to the parents of the child, when a child is killed. That will be useful so the parents know exactly who is to blame,” said Bloomberg.
The city eventually got the cameras.
As for next steps, de Blasio is asking several city agencies to begin mapping out a traffic safety plan. He says he wants a report by February 15.