New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has come up with an unprecedented solution for jaywalking and hasty driving. Safe street advocates will see their demands come true after de Blasio promised to focus his entire attention on minimizing traffic fatalities with the help of the city’s Department of Transportation, New York Police Department, the Department of Health and the Taxi Commission. All the city government branches must come up with detailed plans by February 15.
“I said on Inauguration Day that we were here to make changes, and I meant it,” de Blasio said.
As a result, the mayor announced that Vision Zero will be put into practice, a program which was first implemented in Sweden and aims at reducing traffic fatalities. The number of people who died because of chaotic traffic was as high as 286 last year, an alarming number when compared to the 333 homicides. The mayor acknowledged the fact that motor vehicle crashes are the primary cause “of injury-related death among New Yorkers younger than 14,” which is why de Blasio chose Vision Zero as a means to solve traffic fatalities. If it works in New York, Vision Zero could become a national unprecedented solution for jaywalking and hasty driving.
After three deaths in nine days, mayor de Blasio concluded that both jaywalking and hasty driving are an epidemic and his plan to introduce Vision Zero should eliminate traffic fatalities within a period of ten years. Meanwhile, police began enforcing a jaywalking rule which should prevent New Yorkers from crossing the street until the light turns green. However, de Blasio also acknowledges the fact that the changes will respect people’s lifestyle.
Vision Zero focuses on aggressive driving, which will be combated with the help of transportation, health, police and taxi officials. Although New Yorkers are reluctant to such big changes, the mayor is determined to go further with his plans. On January 19, the police issued 65 jaywalking summonses, 53 more than last year.
Nowadays, New York Police Department has set jaywalking as a primary target and tickets range from $40 to $250. However, this is not the first time New Yorkers experience increased fines for jaywalking; during Rudolph W. Giuliani’s term, the fine was raised from $2 and randomly crossing the streets became a police priority in 1998. A police officer stated at that time that walking across the street is not a crime.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable getting down on people for doing it,” the officer said.
Mayor de Blasio’s plan already encountered problems when an 84-year-old man said he was mistreated by the police when crossing the street. Kang Chun Wong also mentioned that he suffered a serious head gash after the officers accused him of jaywalking and forced him to the ground. The man denied the charge but mentioned that he was roughed up by the police.
William J. Bratton, the city’s police commissioner defined it as an “unfortunate incident” and stated he did not know that officers are using excessive force.
The Advocacy Group Transportation Alternatives confirmed that the number of pedestrian fatalities is diminishing, but de Blasio wishes to convince New York that the only way to eliminate all deaths that are caused by either jaywalking or hasty driving is with the help of an unprecedented solution named Vision Zero.
By Gabriela Motroc
Los Angeles Times