HOST INTRO: On average there are 272 traffic fatalities each year in New York City. Nearly 60% are pedestrian fatalities. The Department of Transportation, the NYPD, and the mayor’s office have teamed up and formed Vision Zero to decrease these numbers. Claire Pires went to Brooklyn for Vision Zero’s first-ever public event where it seemed speeding was the main problem for residents.
PIRES: Bed Stuy resident Ben Kintisch stood in front of a map at a church in Brooklyn Heights. He was clutching multi-colored stickers that indicate different traffic problems. A yellow dot means “failure to yield.” A red dot means “cars running red lights.” But he was most interested in the pink dots and was sticking them on intersections in Bed Stuy.
BEN: This whole section of Eastern Parkway is terrible. It’s also a speedway so I have to put some of the stickers that say “speeding.”
The city is asking residents to identify problem areas in their own neighborhoods. There will be two public events like this per borough. The DOT, NYPD, and representatives of the mayor’s office will be at each of them.
Janet Cardone Westcott had a handful of pink stickers.
JANET: I’m gonna grab a bunch of speeding stickers on 4th avenue and Bay ridge because people love to shoot down that road.
That worries her because she’s a high school teacher.
JANET: Yeah it’d be great if the streets were safe for my students.
Getting hit by cars causes more injury-related deaths among school-aged kids than anything else. The majority of pedestrian fatalities are caused by private passenger vehicles and not trucks, taxis or buses.
Even nine-year-old Daniel Herman wanted to do something about that those statistics.
DANIEL HERMAN: “Because um I wanna be part of a big thing. I wanna basically to like upgrade New York City’s system.”
His father, David, was worried about speeding on the Prospect Expressway section of the map but that wasn’t all.
DAVID HERMAN: “His school is right next to the Prospect Expressway. You have a lot of people driving dangerously there. So a lot of my stickers are about a failure to yield and things like that.
It will be up to employees of the DOT to collect these maps, go to the intersections residents pointed out with stickers, and try to fix the problems there. The DOT’s Chris Brunson sat at a table with residents.
CHRIS: What kind of pedestrian improved options do we have currently?
Those options include lowering speed limits by retiming the traffic lights on main streets or installing median strips. And the department is going to be doing a lot of that as part of the mayor’s program.
CHRIS: Every year for Vision Zero, DOT is going to be implementing at least 50 street improvement projects such as the ones that we have been doing in the last 7-10 years.
Brunson says where the department has completed these improvement projects, fatalities declined.
As the two-hour event wound down, Ben Kintisch was still standing in front of the map of Eastern Parkway. He’s happy the city wants to listen to residents.
BEN: The people living in the neighborhood, not the community board, the people who cross the perilous streets, are the ones who know best.
Later this year, there will be another Vision Zero event in Brooklyn to address bike safety. Claire Pires, Columbia Radio News.