Thursday, February 20, 2014

Vision Zero Nanny caught running stop signs, speeding, breaking traffic laws

CBS 2 New York Report : Mayor’s Caravan Violated Traffic Safety Laws Days After Safety Event

Just days after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his #VisionZero traffic safety improvement plan, CBS 2 New York reporter Marcia Kramer busted the mayor running stop signs and speeding, according to an exposé broadcast by CBS 2 New York Thursday night.

"When the mayor announced his 62-point safe streets initiative, which includes lowering the speed limit to 25 mph, he said, 'We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard,' " Ms. Kramer reported.

Because the mayor appears to have been caught being hypocritical about the enforcement of his new #VisionZero traffic safety plan, he's going to have to explain why traffic laws seem to apply to regular New Yorkers, but not to the mayoral caravan.

The fact that the mayor believes that the application of his #TaleOfTwoCities traffic safety plan only applies to others, but not to him, will undoubtedly embarrass his administration in tomorrow's tabloids. But this pause would be a great opportunity to really evaluate the "pie in the sky" promise of dropping all traffic accident deaths to zero.

According to The New York Times, police statistics show that 176 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in New York City in 2013. How many of those traffic deaths were attributable to the city's encouragement of more pedestrian use of the city's streets ? We have numerous street fairs during the summer, marathons, cement parks have taken over parts of city streets with some tables and chairs mere feet away from moving traffic. Now, there are bike racks right on the streets ! The city has been encouraging more pedestrian use of the streets, and now the de Blasio administration wants to ticket people for using those same streets, either because they jaywalk, or because they are becoming victims of traffic accidents caused by vehicular traffic.

Bill de Blasio - Caution - Watch For Speeding Mayoral Caravan

If we have situations were the mayor's caravan can run stop signs, speed, and break other traffic laws without a police escort blaring its lights and siren, how can citizens take Mayor de Blasio's new #VisionZero traffic safety plan recommendations ? There are all these mixed signals : use the streets, don't use the streets, the streets are safe, the streets are not safe. What are we to believe ?

Before the NYPD started in on its ticket blitz and brutalized jaywalkers, the mayor and the police department should have looked to what Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe tried to do to make that city safer for pedestrians. After Paris installed its wildly successful bike sharing program, the Paris municipality set out to make the city safer for all its pedestrians, bicyclers, and motorists. They rightly started their program, in part, with a huge public awareness campaign to change people's behavior. Huge signs were posted along some of the busiest streets, like the Boulevard de Sébastapol, to make pedestrians -- and drivers -- more aware of each other.

Motorcycle deaths in Paris : Bertrand Delanoe Traffic Safety Plan - Boulevard de Sébastapol

Mayor Delanoe's traffic safety program aimed to make it safer on Parisian streets after that city had encouraged tens of thousands of more people to take to the streets on bikes. It was after this mass new infusion of people on the streets that the effectiveness of the traffic safety plan was revealed to only be marginal. More than 10,000 pedestrians were injured in 2008 in Paris. By 2012, that number decreased only to about 8,327, and that was after a few year's worth of the Paris mayor's traffic safety plan.

Gains in pedestrian traffic safety will undoubtedly be made, but Vision "Zero" is impossible, because there will always be accidents, especially because the New York City is encouraging more and more people to take to the very same streets occupied by motor vehicles. Mayor de Blasio is overlooking how "Zero" is an impossibility. A much-needed traffic improvement plan should not be sold like that. How are we ever going to get to "zero," when certain drivers think that speed limits, traffic signs, and other traffic laws don't apply to them ?

Making the city "safer" for pedestrians needs to involve more than ticketing people for jaywalking, more than just empty talk, and certainly more than letting the mayor run through stop signs when he thinks nobody else is looking. Some of the safety improvements that Paris made were as a result of a whole host of efforts.

Several years in, the traffic safety effort in Paris has only made marginal improvements in safety. Their valiant efforts show that no matter how much you do, traffic is always going to be risky, if not dangerous, because human behavior will always involve risk, whether you are in a speeding cab, driving in dangerous weather conditions, or riding in the mayoral caravan. Making an effort to improve traffic safety is admirable, but let's be realistic. Vision "zero" is nanny-talk.

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