Last month, members of Transportation Alternatives’ Brooklyn Volunteer Committee spent eight hours monitoring traffic on Jay Street, between Willoughby and Johnston streets. The results highlight the NYPD’s unwillingness to enforce traffic laws, making New York’s streets dangerous for everyone.
“This illegal behavior is appalling,” said Paule Herodote, the T.A. Brooklyn Volunteer Committee member who spearheaded the traffic monitoring effort. “Drivers on Jay Street display a dangerous disregard for their neighbors when they block bike lanes and bus stops and engage in potentially lethal behavior. Just as troubling is that the police officers we expect to enforce the laws are breaking them as well.”
“The dangerous driving on display on Jay Street is indicative of streets throughout the city: the police aren’t paying attention (and are breaking the law), so drivers think they can get away with anything,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “With so little enforcement against the many drivers who blatantly ignore the rules of the road, everyone on this street is in harm’s way. Police Commissioner Kelly needs to get his department in order and make traffic safety a priority.”
Over the course of the morning and afternoon rush hours on four weekdays in October, the local volunteer committee documented traffic behavior. They found:
• 49 drivers per hour parked in the bike lane for more than 10 seconds. On average 3 of these drivers were police officers.
• 18 drivers per hour blocked the bus stop. On average, five of these drivers were police.
• 18 illegal u-turns per hour. On average two u-turns per hour were committed by police.
• 173 bicyclists per hour traveled on Jay Street. Thousands of people walk there.
In just eight hours of observation, a total of 141 illegal u-turns were documented. In the month of September, the NYPD issued a total of two moving violations on the same stretch of Jay Street for u-turns.
In June, Transportation Alternatives and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy released "Vision Zero: How Safer Streets in New York City Can Save More Than 100 Lives a Year," which found that in New York City drivers injure thousands of pedestrians every year; scores lose their lives. From 2000 to 2009:
• More people were killed in traffic than murdered by guns in New York City.
• A New Yorker died in traffic every 35 hours.
• Half of the people killed were pedestrians.
The NYPD’s lack of enforcement leaves the dangerous behaviors that contribute to these tragedies unchecked. They must do more to stop these preventable deaths and injuries.
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