January/February 1996, p.10-11
A Calming Influence
At a November 29th press conference, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced a major new effort to crack down on dangerous driving and reduce New York City's pedestrian death and injury toll. 1100 cops will direct traffic and dramatically boost enforcement. The Department of Transportation will make some streets more pedestrian-friendly and experiment with neighborhood-wide traffic calming. These announcements followed a two-year T.A. campaign calling for more police enforcement. T.A.'s tireless advocacy led the City to recognize the need to use traffic calming to protect pedestrians and neighborhoods from out-of-control traffic.
Responding to the Mayor's directive to restore order to he city chaotic streets, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton Formed the Traffic Control Division and gave it clout by appointing two-star chief Michael Scagnelli to lead it. Vowing to "take back the roads and highways from those who abuse the privilege of being a licensed driver in the city of New York," Bratton warned motorists to stop honking unnecessarily, or they would risk having a bike cop ride up and give them a summons.
Perhaps more important than the police plan was Commissioner Lee Sander's announcement that the DOT was poised to begin the "wide-scale deployment" of traffic calming in New York City neighborhoods, including Harlem, lower Manhattan, and specific locations in Staten Island and Queens. Sander's presentation was a radical departure from DOT's traditional "traffic flow at all costs" perspective. Sander rounded out his presentation with a brief tutorial on traffic calming, and thanked Transportation Alternatives for its help. This remark was repeated every twenty-two minutes, on radio station 1010 WINS the following morning.
It was a big month for the term "traffic calming." which, because of TA's persistence, was profiled for the first time at a Mayoral press conference, described on the radio, and even discussed on the floors of the New York City Council and the U.S Congress. Congress passed a bill rider, authored by Representative Nydia Velazquez, calling for traffic calming of West Brooklyn streets near the Gowanus Expressway. The Council is also considering a TA-inspired resolution calling for DOT to do more traffic calming.
COPS Will Target:
Alarmed by a horrific bicyclist and pedestrian death toll, campaign in May 1993. As reported in New York Newsday, T.A. research revealed that the NYPD was handing out fewer than 35 speeding tickets a day to the more than two million cars on the city's streets. A summer of pedestrian and cyclist deaths under the wheels of scofflaw drivers brought T.A. into the news again. It worked with State Senator Lentol and Assemblyman Volcker to pass a bill making it a felony to drive with more than ten license suspensions. This year, TA worked with the Daily New to identify the city's most dangerous intersections, and the paper featured the grim findings in a cover story and editorial. Moreover, T.A's new Neighborhood Streets Network served as a powerful voice for community residents all over the city as we all kept up the pressure that led to this historic announcement.
The press conference revealed conflicting city policies toward the city's traffic woes. While DOT is finally starting to consider the needs of the city's non-motoring majority the Police and Mayor seem convinced that control and enforcement will end traffic jaws. The Mayor, Police, and DOT deserve full credit for taking back our streets from those who threaten New Yorkers' safety-and honk, alarm, and bully their way through our neighborhoods. However, top Mayoral transportation advisors need to make sure Giuliani understands that making it easier to drive in the city will only lead to more cars on our sweets and a further deterioration in quality of life.
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