City Council Agrees: Every Street Repaving Is an Opportunity to Save Lives

TransAlt and Families for Safe Streets win majority support for the Vision Zero Street Design Standard
Joseph Cutrufo -
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Transportation Alternatives (TransAlt) and Families for Safe Streets have won the support of a majority of the New York City Council for the Vision Zero Street Design Standard, a guide to planning, designing and building streets that can save lives.

Activists from across the five boroughs met with City Council members Tuesday to discuss the urgent problems on New York City streets and to ask for their support for the Vision Zero Street Design Standard. The Standard was developed with the expertise of planners and engineers, and illustrates how the City can reclaim space for pedestrians and people on bikes using designs already available in the Department of Transportation’s own Street Design Manual.

In all, 26 council members -- representing a majority of the City Council’s 51 members -- have signed on in support of the Vision Zero Street Design Standard. Council members who joined the list of endorsees in 2018 include Fernando Cabrera, Bill Perkins, Keith Powers, Carlina Rivera, Mark Treyger and Jumaane Williams.

Street redesign projects are often subject to a lengthy political processes and can take years to complete. But the Vision Zero Street Design Standard calls for a quicker, less expensive protocol for fixing dangerous streets by integrating safety improvements as part of regularly scheduled resurfacing. These improvements could be made using low-cost materials like paint and plastic bollards, or through retiming signals and implementing leading pedestrian intervals.

“Every time the City repaves a street, there’s an opportunity to save a life,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White. “If we’re going to reach Vision Zero by 2024, then we need to take advantage of these regularly scheduled projects, adding elements that slow drivers and establish safe rights of way for people on bikes and on foot.”

“I stand with Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets to ensure smart street design and Vision Zero priorities are woven into every street improvement,” said City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “The great progress we’ve made in achieving our Vision Zero goals is because all sectors and advocates are working together. We must continue to listen our advocates and integrate TransAlt’s Vision Zero Street Design Standard in everything we do.”

“The safety and well-being of New Yorkers comes before everything else. The recent tragedy in Brooklyn is a sad reminder that we can always do more to improve street safety and protect pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “I am proud to advocate for smarter, stronger safety measures on the East Side of Manhattan and throughout the city.”

"Vision Zero has significantly reduced the number of traffic fatalities in New York City but more can be done to make our streets even safer," said Council Member Andrew Cohen.  "By accelerating the implementation of Vision Zero safety improvements such as protected bike lanes, we can help prevent even more pedestrian deaths."

"I support Transportation Alternatives' call to integrate street redesign capital projects into regularly scheduled resurfacing work,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “We need to take advantage of opportunities in the bureaucracy of planning and procurement to expedite the installation of safety infrastructure. Not only will this initiative save lives, it may very well save taxpayer dollars in the process.”