Pothole in the road to Vision Zero
Jun 25, 2014 | 15116 views | 0 0 comments | 948 948 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For anyone who has moved to New York City from elsewhere in the country, one of the most noticeable traits of New Yorkers is that they do no wait for crosswalks. Period. No one waits on the curb for the light to change, choosing rather to stand right at the edge of the lane where cars are trying to pass through intersections.

And most pedestrians don’t even bother walking to the nearest crosswalk to get to the other side, opting rather to take their chances passing through moving traffic and interrupting the traffic flow.

Yet the bulk of the Vision Zero package is focused on punishing reckless drivers, and no effort is currently under way to change one of the most problematic New York City habits: jaywalking.

On Monday, during a question-and-answer session following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signing of an 11-part package of Vision Zero reforms at PS 152 in Woodside, he was asked if any part of his plan to eliminate pedestrian deaths in the city would include legislation concerning jaywalking enforcement.

His answer? Jaywalking enforcement is the prerogative of the individual precincts.

Unless the city can come up with an effective way of eliminating street crossings outside of crosswalks and against the light, the problem of pedestrian deaths cannot be completely eliminated no matter how many laws go into effect to combat reckless driving.

So leaving it up the precincts to mandate their own enhanced enforcement efforts – efforts that are almost sure to receive no extra financial support from NYPD central – isn’t going to cut it.

Beyond the need for enforcement, though, is a need for a sweeping cultural change across the city. New Yorkers to take responsibility for their own actions when it comes to crossing the street rather than taking the easy route and blaming drivers, most of whose time on the road closer resembles a trek through an obstacle course than a commute.

Now, this is not to in any way minimize the deaths that have resulted from the actions of irresponsible and careless drivers. The grievous losses suffered by mothers like Dana Lerner are losses we at the this paper have mourned, which is why we support the Vision Zero initiative and laud the changes that will come along with the new bills de Blasio has now signed in to law. Nobody should die just trying to cross a street.

We just think that we need to focus a bit on what each and everyone of us can do to keep ourselves safe, and teach our kids to do the same.

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