NYC Mayor de Blasio’s Traffic Safety Initiatives are Set to Launch
By Lynn Shapiro, Staff Writer
The most controversial component of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2018 traffic-congestion plan calls for more so-called “clear lanes” for traffic flow by banning curbside truck deliveries during both morning and evening rush hours.
The six-month pilot program--imposing fines on merchants and truck drives--includes 11 major Midtown crosstown streets in Manhattan as well as heavily-trafficked streets in Queens and Brooklyn.
De Blasio’s traffic initiative also involves the less controversial hiring of 110 NYDP traffic officers to ticket ”block-the-box” offenders, who block busy intersections, causing traffic jams and auto accidents.
“There are four words to live by: “Don’t Block the Box” de Blasio said at a press conference in October, announcing his initiatives while campaigning for a second term as New York’s left-of-center mayor.
“Congestion is at a level that for so many people in this city, really affects their lives negatively, and I certainly don’t find it acceptable,” NY1 reported the mayor as saying.
“Critics, such as Sam Schwartz, the traffic engineer credited with popularizing the word ‘gridlock’, says New York City needs to address traffic issues with even bigger measures: congestion pricing and tolls on all East River bridges,” is one such measure that should be taken, “Schwartz told NY 1.
The Mayor announced this year’s initiatives along one of the “Clear Lane” corridors in Midtown Manhattan, where vehicle travel times has declined by 23 percent since 2010,” de Blasio’s office said.
“Five years ago, the average speed in Midtown was 6.5 miles per hour,” Polly Trottenbert, the city’s transportation commissioner, announced.
“Today, the average is 4.7 miles an hour. The goal is to improve travel speeds across the city by 10 percent by next year.”
Mayor Opposes Congestion Pricing
Mayor de Blasio opposes congestion pricing, or charging drivers a fee to pass through the busiest corridors of the city, an idea championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, who is expected announce his 2020 Presidential candidacy.
Cuomo has appointed a task force to study the issue and is expected to unveil his plan in the State of the State message next month, NY1 reports.
Boulevard of Death is a Success
Meanwhile, a wildly successful de Blasio pedestrian traffic plan is saving lives on Queens Boulevard, a thoroughfare that was until recently called “a Boulevard of Death”.
“City transportation officers have invested $4 million to redesign the boulevard, including putting in bike lanes and more crosswalks and places for pedestrians to wait in the median while crossing, and redesigned car lanes to reduce conflicts between local and through traffic.” writes New York Times reporter, Winnie Hu, covering what she calls one of “New York City’s deadliest streets…. a combat zone where one pedestrian after another was mowed down trying to get across.”
Hu writes, “Cars and trucks hurtling down Queens Boulevard left a rising death toll in their wake, including 18 pedestrians killed just in a single year, in 1997. Overall, since 1990, a total of 186 people have been killed on this one street, of whom 138 were pedestrians.”
“Before long, the street earned lasting notoriety in tabloid headlines as the “Boulevard of Death.”
“But today, the Boulevard of Death is no more. Not a single pedestrian or cyclist has been killed on the seven-mile long thoroughfare that slices through Queens since 2014.”, when de Blasio began his first mayoral term.
In combination, de Blasio’s and Cuomo’s initiatives project significant safety and quality-of-life improvement for NYC residents.
Photo credit - Wikipedia