Three Laws That Will Save Lives

Transportation Alternatives’ fight for better biking and walking always starts and ends on New York City’s streets, but sometimes the work requires passing legislation through City Hall or up at the State Capital in Albany. Last year, T.A. advocates had a banner year, helping to pass groundbreaking speed camera legislation, a hit-and-run reporting bill and a law requiring regular updates to the City’s street design manual, as well as a handful of other long overdue street-safety reforms. Next year, there’ll be even more on the docket. With a new mayor, a fresh City Council and a game-changing initiative like Vision Zero underway, 2014 is shaping up to be filled with serious legislative maneuvering. Here are a few of the fights we’re already working on:

  1. Speed Cameras, Again

    Last year, T.A. helped win the installation of 20 speed cameras positioned in school zones around the city, which is a good start, but it’s not nearly enough, especially since our neighbors in Nassau County are fighting for 56 speed cameras, and the good folks in Suffolk County are pushing for 65. If the State Legislature sees fit to allow our friends on Long Island to implement larger numbers of this life-saving technology, then surely we deserve a few more here, right? T.A. laid some serious groundwork last year, the cameras already in action haven’t met with any serious opposition, and the coalition—from Mayor de Blasio to Families for Safe Streets—is more fired-up than ever before.

  2. The 20 mph City

    As odd as it may seem, the speed limit for New York City’s streets is set in Albany, and most state legislators are under the impression that 30 mph is slow enough. The thing is, a car traveling at 30 mph that hits a pedestrian is nine times more likely to kill them than a car traveling at 20 mph. That’s a huge difference. And given that New York City is far more pedestrian dense than anywhere else in the state, it’s a difference that can save a lot of lives. The Mayor’s Office is currently working to reduce the speed limit to 25 mph by modifying a section of State Vehicle and Traffic Law, while T.A., a coalition of victims’ families and committed state legislators are pushing for a more expansive piece of legislation that would set the default speed limit at 20 mph.

  3. Getting Serious About Suspended Licenses

    According to New York State statistics, about 3.5 percent of all drivers on the road are operating their vehicle with a suspended or revoked license. These same drivers are responsible for 7.6 percent of all fatal traffic crashes, making them more than twice as likely to cause a fatal crash than their law-abiding neighbors. In order to get suspened-license drivers off the road, T.A. is fighting for a law that would allow police officers and the DMV to impound license plates of repeat offenders, an approach that has had success in other jurisdictions. Bills establishing this protocol have strong support in both houses of the Legislature and advocates like T.A. and Families for Safe Streets pushing to ensure passage.