Speaker Quinn, Don't Cop Out
Languishing in the City Council, there is a bill that could save lives -- a bill to hold the NYPD accountable for traffic safety -- and if we don't act, it will fade away.
The officer's first or 101st time summonsing a vehicle in the bicycle lane?
Without Intro 370, the NYPD's not telling.
When the Saving Lives through Better Information Bill (PDF) was introduced in April, the NYPD balked, refusing to negotiate and claiming outrageous resources were required to share traffic safety data. At the time, Council Speaker Christine Quinn stood strong against the onslaught of NYPD hyperbole.
"We'll continue to negotiate with the Police Department," Speaker Quinn promised at the time, noting she could "pass legislation over the Police Department's or other people's objections," but prefers, "to try to negotiate for a reasonable period of time, see if we can get consensus. If we can't, we can't."
The information in contention: The traffic crashes and fatalities that occurred, and summonses issued, in each precinct. That is all.
Council Speaker Quinn promised to see all parties to the table to argue out responsibility for the traffic data's transparency. Yet last week, when the bill was reintroduced, the NYPD was not brought to the table. The DOT was left to stumble over questions about data that the NYPD collects, both agencies analyze and neither publishes.
On any given week, anyone from Brooklyn to Bangkok with an Internet connection can know how many cars were stolen in your neighborhood.
But the livery cab crash that ended up on the sidewalk outside your house? Information available: Zilch. It's currently impossible to discover whether anyone was killed or injured, what caused the crash or if any summonses were issued as a result.
To stitch the information gap, T.A. and Council Member Jessica Lappin last year introduced the Saving Lives through Better Information Bill, requiring the NYPD to report weekly on crashes, fatalities, contributing factors and all summonsing activity, delineated by precinct.
At the original April 28th hearing on the subject, recently retired NYPD Transportation Bureau Chief Michael Scagnelli testified, "one way to help reduce traffic injuries and fatalities on New York City streets is for the NYPD to make traffic injury, fatality and summonsing data open." He explained to the Council, "this information already exists in a form that could be easily released and made available to the public and other agencies focused on reducing traffic casualties." How's that for a green light?
Yet, despite Chief Scagnelli's 39-years of expertise, the NYPD pooh-poohed the project and stopped the bill in its otherwise widely supported tracks.
Now the NYPD's trying to pass the buck, calling for the DOT to be responsible for procuring and posting the crash and summonsing data, despite the NYPD writing the crash reports and summonses the data is culled from. Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn just mandated data sharing for domestic violence and hate crimes; it's illogical that traffic safety data should remind behind the shroud.
Hold Council Speaker Quinn to her promise to pass this life-saving bill. Send Speaker Quinn an e-fax: For safe streets, we need shared data.
Doctor's Orders: Play in the Street
Imagine at the end of the block party, no one bothered to shuck the caution tape down from the street signs on the corner. Cars were never ushered back into the street. Collapsible barbeques remained at the base of stoops all summer long. The jump rope lay in the street where double-dutch had bounced last. The permanent block party: it isn't a dream, it's an idea called a Play Street, an extraordinary innovation T.A.'s looking to cultivate across the city.
Hawaii in East Harlem? A simple road closure transforms a city street into a place to play.
Play Streets are youth-targeted recurring block parties. T.A. wants these car-free streets and kids' play places to be institutionalized citywide, but integral to spreading this smart idea is proving the benefit of Play Streets is more than just fun. For that, T.A. called upon the epidemiological expertise of our friends at the New York Academy of Medicine.
The New York Academy of Medicine documented and surveyed attendance at Play Streets in July and August, and found overwhelming benefits to the closed streets. The Play Streets, in East Harlem and the South Bronx, were organized by T.A. and the Strategic Alliance for Heath and occurred concurrent with weekly Harvest Home Farmer's Markets. More than 1,200 young people attended. Those surveyed said:
While 92 percent of respondents reported they would spread the good gospel of Play Streets, that isn't enough oomph to spread the Play Streets project citywide.
- If not at the Play Street, 64 percent would have been doing something sedentary
- Because of the Play Street, 84 percent felt their neighborhood was safer
The people who produced PlaNYC 2030 need to hear these results. Tell the folks planning PlaNYC 2.0 that Play Streets have proven important for safer neighborhoods and a healthier city: Click through the green box and spread the good word of an NYC with Play Streets here to stay.
What Will Dr. Thomas Farley Say on Speeding?
Day by day, with a DOT that understands the difference between a neckdown and a takedown, our streets become incontestably safer.
At T.A., we think 20's plenty, but the DOT's new campaign to keep drivers at the city's
30 mph limit is a solid and sharp first step.
Image courtesy NYCDOT
Yet despite all the bike lanes slowing vehicle speeds and pedestrian plazas slowing vehicle speeds, speeding remains New York City's most untouchable traffic problem and the number one contributing factor to fatal crashes. In fact, unsafe speeds cause 135 percent more fatal crashes than failing to yield the right of way, the next most deadly enforceable offense.
T.A.'s bread and butter: Take the best minds and best practices solving traffic safety problems around the world and import them to address New York City's most pressing needs. That is why we are introducing Transportation Alternatives' Stop Speeding Summit on November 19th.
Before New York City understood how populous parking begets terrible traffic, T.A. brought the pioneer of all things parking, stopping and standing, Donald Shoup, to analyze how New York can change its congestion equation by capitalizing on under-priced roadside real estate. With that expertise, the City has taken on everything from placard abuse to parking regulations in zoning law.
Before New York City ever hummed the livable streets mantra, T.A. brought to town the movement's most successful gurus, Danish master planner Jan Gehl and Bogatá Mayor Enrique Peñalosa, to apply their lessons learned here. Now, our DOT is rewriting the book on how to build a better street.
In that tradition, T.A.'s Stop Speeding Summit is the first step to answer New York's most pervasive traffic problem. The full day conference will feature experts in camera and police enforcement, winning advocates for slow speed zones and the traffic engineers who have begun to solve the problem around the country. New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley will keynote the event.
T.A.'s Stop Speeding Summit is free and space is still available. Register here.
Is Your Bus America's Best?
What is your barometer for a bus route? Whether it's efficient travel, a gorgeous view or a driver with dramatic flair, it's time to toot (and tweet) the beauty of your route.
Transportation Alternatives and GOOD are hosting a contest to declare the best bus route in America, and time is short for you to enter yours. Before the Friday deadline, snap a picture on your cell phone of the scenery, seats or chauffeur that make your bus route best and describe the benefits in a caption of 140 characters or less.
Entries are due before Friday, November 12th at midnight.
Get your route in the running here.
Spread Love, It's the BRT Way
Select Bus Service is coming to Brooklyn. It is scheduled to debut on Bed-Stuy's Nostrand and Rogers avenues, but before the terracotta lanes take over the asphalt, the DOT and MTA will be holding an open house to educate and answer questions about Select Bus Service. Bring a buddy and learn how better bus service is coming to Brooklyn.
Open House on Select Bus Service for Nostrand and Rogers Avenues
Monday, November 15, 2010
6:30 - 8:30pm
Brooklyn College Student Center
Bedford Lounge, 2nd Floor
Campus Road and East 27th Street