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De Blasio's efforts to end traffic fatalities advanced by council

We have previously written about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of ending traffic deaths within the next decade. This “Vision Zero” plan has been informed by Sweden’s approach to deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents which treats them all as inherently preventable. Although lofty, de Blasio’s plan recently received support from New York’s City Council.

Late last month, the City Council approved several legislative changes tied to Vision Zero. According to the New York Times, these changes include classifying the action of hitting a cyclist or pedestrian who has the right of way as a misdemeanor offense and allowing cabbies to be stripped of their cab driving privileges if they hit and significantly harm a pedestrian. In addition, certain motorcyclist behaviors including explicit invitations to race other bikers are now prohibited.

Mayor de Blasio has praised the City Council’s action in passing these bills as “a major step forward.” In addition, the Council speaker recently reinforced the idea that, “These policies will make our streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike.”

The City Council also took responsibility for some safety hazards plaguing the city by passing bills requiring the Transportation Department to review bridge worker safety guidelines and to repair damaged and missing traffic signals within one day of being notified that they are broken or missing. Although these changes will not eliminate NYC traffic deaths, they are certainly steps in the right direction. Hopefully the City Council will embrace bolder actions in the name of traffic safety in the near future.

Source: New York Times, “Council Passes Bills Aiding de Blasio’s Quest to End Traffic Deaths,” Matt Flegenheimer, May 29, 2014

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