Sunday, February 2, 2014

The City is Changing: Traffic Justice in NYC

New York could be a pedestrian city.  The workings have been in place for years now.  We walk to the subway, ride bikes to work, and play in our neighborhoods.  But with the suburbanization of New York, more and more cars have pushed into these streets, damaging neighborhoods, the environment and people.  Last Sunday, Amy Cohen argued we need a paradigm shift in our streets during a Candlelight Vigil for Pedestrian Safety held in Queens. Everyone seemed to agree.  It was hard for some of us to listen to the stories of parents, such as Cohen, who've lost their children to the reckless drivers. I cannot describe how much respect I have for Cohen and those brave families who come out and turn their grief into action, fighting back against their grief and the violence of our system and streets.

Shepard at the Candlelight Vigil for Pedestrian Safety  by  Liz Patek

But would the city change?

I went to the doctor’s on Friday.  He told me he got a ticket for driving forty in a thirty mile per hour street earlier in the week. I just about started to cheer.  She was concerned there was going to be a huge fine and points on her license.  Perhaps, just perhaps things might be starting to change.  This is the only way drivers will change, if they start to feel it in their wallets  By the end of the day, reports were indicating this was not an isolated incident.  The city had been giving out hundreds and hundreds of speeding tickets in the first few weeks of January. 

Tickets Flowing Under Mayor's Speed Camera Plan” reported NY1. Nearly a thousand drivers have been ticketed by the city's speed cameras since Mayor Bill de Blasio's "Vision Zero" traffic initiative took effect two weeks ago.”Bottom of Form
Things might be changing. 

Friday night, many of those of us who were with Times Up! a decade ago in August 2004, Right of Way Fall 2013, and Amy Cohen the week before, we met a Union Square for the first Critical Mass of the Bratton Era.

We were meeting at the NYC Critical Mass Settlement Party before Critical Mass

With the end of the Bloomburg/Kelly Regime and the start of the DiBlasio/Brattan "Obamafication", we celebrate the settling of 2004 RNC mass arrests to the tune of 18 million dollars. We embrace DiBlasio's #VisionZero with a healthy skepticism, and take to task the NYPD approach to policing bicycles and mass movements. Does the Regime continue, or do these fresh white faces mean something new?

Still we ride.

Bring: bikes, friends, plans, love, rage, noise, media, lights, cameras, action!

We make the streets!

#CriticalMass #BikeNYC #VisionZero #DownWithTheRegime #Anonymous #VisionZeroCops

That Friday night at Critical Mass I didn’t see any police at Union Square.  There were almost no police out.  Nothing compared to the usual detail which so punished cyclists and  first amendment expression during the last decade. There were no tickets or arrests. 

It was fantastic to see friends out there, talking like we used to do before the ride became like a ring in Dante’s Inferno.

critical mass james crevon

“It looks like the police state is coming to an end,” remarked Keegan.

Charlie talked about getting nearly getting caught in the police nets during a spring 2005 ride, when the police said group bike rides were illegal.

 I only saw a few cops last night. Could Keegan be right? Could this be the end of the police state in NYC? Or was it just the Super Bowl so the police were diverted?
Jessica Rechtschaffer noted There was a scooter and a cop car following from a distance. As the ride broke up near Union Square, the cops were meeting withe some brass. It may be that they were testing the waters. Hopefully, they'll see what a waste of resources (among other things) the war against CM has been and will let us express our 1st amendment rights.

By Saturday, Keegan was posting calls for us to meet again on Sunday.  

Join us for a gathering and photograph to demand home rule for NYC speed limits. We have 100 '20 is Plenty' signs for you to hold in support.

Support 20 is Plenty, 20 MPH across NYC streets. New bills in the NY State Assembly and the NY State Senate are pushing for NYC 'Home Rule' - allowing NYC to lower speed limits in NYC to 20 mph. 

"Lower speeds save lives. When drivers aren't speeding, they have more time to brake when something unexpected happens. Lower speeds mean that even when a driver or pedestrian makes a mistake, there is often time to avoid a crash and, if there is not enough time, the penalty is in most cases not death.

The science is clear: If a pedestrian is hit by a speeding driver traveling at New York City's default speed limit of 30 mph, there is a 30% chance that person will die. That number goes up to 80% if the driver is going 40 mph, as too many motorists do. But at 20 mph—the speed limit we should have—there's a 98 percent chance that same pedestrian will live.

Researchers have also uncovered a startling developmental fact: children under 15 are biologically incapable of accurately perceiving the speed of an oncoming car if it's traveling faster than 20 mph. This fact is why we hear so often about children "darting" into traffic. Studies show that every 1 mph reduction of vehicle speeds on urban, pedestrian-heavy streets leads to a 6% decrease in traffic fatalities. And New York City is home to the most pedestrian-dense streets in the country."
The next morning cycling activists citywide converged at Grand Army Place.  We want home rule to shape our own model of sustainable urbanism, our own global Brooklyn.

New York, NY: Two new bills before the New York State Legislature, one in the Assembly and one in the Senate, would give homerule to NYC over its speed limits. On Sunday, over 100 community members gathered to demonstrate their support for lower speeds on NYC streets by holding replicas of the fake speed limit signs that Right of Way installed on Prospect Park West last November.

“This is a crucial step in Mayor de Blasio’s push toward Vision Zero,” said Keegan Stephan, an organizer with Right of Way.

“A pedestrian's chances of surviving being hit by a vehicle are doubled if the driver is going 20mph instead of 30," said Charles Komanoff, statistician with Right of Way and author of their study Killed by Automobile. "We're talking about saving dozens of lives every year."

“Drivers going 20 mph have more time to react in the event of the unexpected, reducing the frequency of crashes,” said Hilda Cohen, founder of Make Brooklyn Safer. “Research shows that children 12 and under are cognitively incapable of accurately perceiving vehicle speeds above 20 mph,” added Stephan. “There is no reason drivers need to be going faster than that on our residential streets, in the nation's most pedestrian-rich city.”

Here's the final photo from today's #VisionZero event in Brooklyn! #bikenyc #slowdown #20isPlenty
shepards by  Liz Patek

1 comment:

  1. You’re so awesome! I don’t believe I’ve read through anything like that before. So good to discover somebody with original thoughts on this issue. Really New York Bankruptcy Attorney .. many thanks for starting this up.