Transportation Alternatives

Big Idea
New York City’s speed limit is about to be 25 mph. That change is a victory for New Yorkers — fewer will die, fewer will suffer life-altering injury and every crash will be less severe. Activists fought hard for a safe speed limit, but it’ll take creativity and passion to make the new law stick.
Now there’s a powerful, pithy way to promote New York City’s new speed limit, courtesy of #Drive25 sloganeer Michelle Chai. Check out Michelle’s winning slogan, then share it on Facebook or Twitter to guarantee that your social network knows the speed limit is now 25 mph.

Awaiting Mayor de Blasio’s Pen
T.A. activists and members of Families for Safe Streets ask State Assembly Member Crespo to vote “yes,” on a bill to grant the City Council permission to change New York’s speed limit. (He did.)
New York City’s new 25 mph speed limit is just waiting for Mayor de Blasio’s pen (coming Monday!). Is a little ink all it takes to change the city?

No way! Making New York City’s speed limit safer took tens of thousands of people writing emails and letters, making phone calls, holding signs at City Hall rallies and even piling onto buses to Albany to convince the New York State Legislature. Here’s how it happened:

Numbers Game

All known data says that danger to pedestrians and bicyclists increases wildly when cars drive over 25 mph. That fact became the motivation behind Transportation Alternatives’ campaign. Local activists repeated it so often that supportive politicians started to say it, too.

Petitions Matter

Thousands of New Yorkers sent letters to the City Council, Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo demanding a safer speed limit. That cacophony of demand turned the tide of support.

Powerful Voices

At the first meeting of Families for Safe Streets, a new group of crash survivors and the families of people killed in traffic, everyone voted to make a safer speed limit the group’s priority. These brave New Yorkers, and their tragic stories, carved a path of change from Albany to City Hall.

New York City’s new speed limit is an extraordinary victory for bicyclists, pedestrians and all New Yorkers. And it would not have happened without thousands speaking up. Thanks to all of you who did.

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Why We #Drive25

The Department of Transportation spreads the word with light-up signs. How can you can spread the word?
Telling a whole city, “Hey! The speed limit is now 25 mph!”  would be easy if we had access to a giant bike-powered megaphone or the donated service of a skywriter.

Pending that, Transportation Alternatives is going to need your help to get the word out about New York City’s new speed limit. Last week, we launched a little slogan contest, and a few hundred people submitted their best ideas for advertising why everyone needs to #Drive25.

Many entries pointed out that “drive” and “lives” rhyme with New York’s new speed limit, like one of our favorites, Jared Skolnick on Twitter:

Why #Drive25? To save lives.

Others, like Matthias Halabian on Facebook, leaned on rhyme too, and connected the new speed limit to Mayor de Blasio’s signature safety initiative:

Vision Zero: Be a 25 mph hero!

On Facebook, David Rozanski applied a New Yorker’s penchant for efficiency to sloganeering, communicating the change in speed limit as efficiently as possible:

25 is the new 30.

It wasn’t easy to choose a winner, but Michelle Chai’s pithy and pointed #Drive25 slogan takes advantage of every tactic above:

Go 25: Green Lights, Saved Lives.

The winning slogan convinces with two arguments in one, leaning on drivers to be responsible for saving lives, and appealing to their stuck-in-traffic sensibilities by pointing out that traffic lights are timed to the speed limit.

Transportation Alternatives will share Michelle’s slogan with the sign-makers at the Department of Transportation, but until then, it’s up to you to spread the word. The buttons below can help you share the #Drive25 message on Facebook and Twitter.

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Q & A: Build that passion into the Police Academy
Audrey Anderson, a member of Families for Safe Streets whose son Andre was killed riding his bicycle, with Caroline Samponaro and T.A. Executive Director Paul Steely White after the release of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero Action Plan,” which recommended lowering the speed limit.
Caroline Samponaro, Deputy Director at Transportation Alternatives, leads local campaigns to redesign New York’s scariest streets. We asked her what Mayor de Blasio can do to make 25 mph stick:

The current speed limit is under-enforced. How will that change with the new speed limit?

More tools for NYPD precincts, like radar guns and speed cameras, empower officers to enforce the law. So does passion for an initiative like Vision Zero. Last year, five pedestrians were killed in the 108th Precinct in Queens. This year, thanks to a passionate commanding officer, no one has died in traffic. Let’s build that passion into the Police Academy. Examples like the 108th Precinct need to be the policy, not the exception.

Is success only contingent on the NYPD?

Vision Zero won’t happen without rebuilding arterial streets — the street where your subway station is, or the street you want to bike on, because it’s direct, but don’t, because it’s scary. Fifty percent of us are killed on these streets. If we rebuild, arterial streets can slow drivers without enforcement, 24-hours-a-day. We’ve seen this work on formerly scary arterial streets like Kent Avenue in Brooklyn and 9th Avenue in Manhattan.

Is that all it will take to make 25 mph work?

None of this will happen without smart New Yorkers getting involved. And certainly, the most fun place to start is with T.A.’s activist committees. You’ll have access to the halls of power and you’ll be heard.

Choose your borough to find out about upcoming meetings and how to get involved where you live.

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NYPD Chief & DOT Commish Explain It All
It’s a first-of-its-kind gathering of minds. The Vision Zero for Cities Symposium will bring together experts in traffic enforcement, engineering and education from around the country to tackle the challenges of Vision Zero. A gaggle of new speakers recently signed on to add their expertise to the mix, including NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan & DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. Spots are selling out fast for this unique, weekend-long conversation, so register today.
TONIGHT: Staten Island Activists Meet
Activists on Staten Island are planning their first Bike Friendly Business District and an upcoming Neighborhood Street-Up. Come to this gathering of neighbors to suggest local shops that should be officially “bike-friendly.”
Ride & Walk for Fifth & Sixth
The Department of Transportation just agreed to study a proposal to redesign Fifth and Sixth avenues! To celebrate, businesses that back the redesign are giving out goodies during this community walk and bike ride.
Staten Island Neighborhood Street-Up
The first 125 Staten Islanders get a free Brooklyn Brewery beer, but everyone attending will know they’re hanging with the best of their borough. Talk #BikeNYC with other activists at this fun social night.
Tour de Bronx
It’s free to ride the Tour de Bronx, and the best way to experience leaf peeping, New York City-style. Ride 25 or 40 miles through 61 neighborhoods on the largest free bike tour in New York State.
Brooklyn Activists Meet
Activists in Brooklyn were already pushing to change Jay Street and make Atlantic Avenue safer. They just added Meeker Avenue to their to-do list. Attend this meeting to get involved.

Recommended Reading
The burden is greater in low-income neighborhoods, where White says he sees "a disproportionate number of children dying from traffic crashes." In its report on child pedestrian crashes, Transportation Alternatives found that in low-income neighborhoods where public housing is located near high-speed streets, protracted 'super blocks' require that pedestrians walk long distances—up to a third of a mile, in some cases—to reach a streetlight with a crosswalk. As a result, walking anywhere without breaking the law is impossible. "We've criminalized walking," says White.

Read more from T.A. Executive Director Paul Steely White in the Gotham Gazette
Shoebox apartments are par for the New York course, and a perfect fit for these top five folding bikes. Read more on BikeNYC.

Pedestrian deaths drop from five to zero after a Queens precinct focuses on the right violations. Read more in the New York Daily News.

#BikeNYC activism gets the children’s book treatment in “Josie and the Fourth Grade Bike Brigade.” Read more on BikeNYC.

Already low, the rate of pedestrians injured by bicyclists is dropping. Read more at CityLab.

Cyclist gets three tickets for running three red lights in one day and wonders if he has any recourse. Read more on BikeNYC.

Images courtesy of Cassandra Giraldo and Andrew Hinderaker.