Thursday, October 23, 2014

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City Agencies Combine Forces to Back Up Vision Zero Education Efforts

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It's hard to break old habits, but several city agencies are combining forces to to help drivers and pedestrians do just that, as they've started backing up their Vision Zero education efforts with fines to try to lower the rates of accidents and fatalities on city streets. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.

Police are out in force along the Grand Concourse, pulling over aggressive and dangerous drivers and writing up summonses. The crackdown is a part of the mayor's Vision Zero plan to reduce accidents and fatalities.

"I believe it's a good thing," said one person. "I even had my uncle, got hit by a car over here about six years ago, lost his life."

The area around the 46th Precinct is one of the first in the city to roll out a joint effort by the New York City Police Department, the Department of Transportation and the Taxi and Limousine Commission to promote Vision Zero and save lives. Officers in cars and on foot have been given marching orders to hand out tickets.

"Taking a look at the traffic to make sure that people are observing the speed limit, yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalk, not disobeying signs, not making improper turns," said Thomas Chan, the NYPD's chief of transportation. "So there is going to be added enforcement along this Grand Concourse corridor."

The corridor has historically had one of the highest accident rates in the city.

For several days, a van has been in the area blasting safety messages in English and Spanish.

"Drivers must yield to pedestrians who have the right of way. Pedestrians must exercise caution," the messages say.

When it comes to dangerous moves on the streets, quite clearly, it's not only drivers that are breaking the traffic rules. Right in front of the police, countless people, including seniors, crossed the street against the no walking signal.

"People are in a rush, but we have to exercise caution because it's a dual responsibility, not only on the part of the motorist but also on the pedestrian," Chan said.

Cynthia Thompkins, the head of the Precinct Community Council, welcomes the safety measures but hopes that more crosswalks can be added along stretches of the Concourse.

"When we begin to educate and then we begin to enforce what we're trying to, or NYPD is trying to do, is to move from bad behavior to a change of creating good behaviors," Thompkins said. "It's going to take time."

Meanwhile, the education and enforcement will continue.

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