During Vision Zero Emergency, Advocates and Elected Officials Demand Passage of Slate of City Council Vision Zero Bills

Joseph Cutrufo -
(646) 873-6027

NEW YORK -- Transportation, labor and environmental justice advocates gathered with New York State Senator Julia Salazar in Manhattan on Monday to call on the City Council to take up three bills which would be game-changers for street safety.  

Right now, there are three landmark bills in front of City Council which would make our streets safer, and work better for the people that live, walk, bike and take transit on them: Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Streets Master Plan Bill (Intro 1557), Council Member Antonio Reynoso’s Commercial Exclusive Waste Zone Reform Bill (Intro 1574), and Council Member Brad Lander’s Reckless Driver Accountability Act (Intro 971). Together, these bills would accelerate and benchmark street redesigns which are proven to save lives, bring greater accountability to the single most dangerous industry operating on the streets on New York City, and ensure that the deadliest 1 percent of New York City drivers face consequences for repeated speed and red-light camera violations. receive safety education are common sense measures that will save lives and improve our city immeasurably. 

To date in 2019, 156 New Yorkers have lost their lives in traffic. Nine of these victims have been children, and three have been killed by private waste haulers in just the last month. New York City is also on pace to lose more cyclists this year than any time in the last 20 years, 90 percent of whom were killed on streets with no safe biking infrastructure.  Every one of these losses was preventable. 

“We must move much faster to make our streets safer, and reimagine how they could better serve New Yorkers. These three bills are common-sense pieces of legislation that will change our public spaces for the better. The City Council should pass these bills as soon as possible, and the Mayor should support them right away,“ said Marco Conner, Co-Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives

“Getting struck and dragged by a private waste hauling truck and losing a limb changed my life. I’m suddenly on disability and my future is uncertain. Truck related pedestrian and cyclist deaths in NYC have increased exponentially in this year alone. We can prevent these tragedies. Passing these three bills will save lives.” said Lauren Pine, member of Families for Safe Streets

“The lack of safety in our streets is unacceptable.This year alone, there were 156 New Yorkers who lost their lives due to a traffic incident, with Brooklyn ranking among the highest boroughs in traffic related deaths in NYC. This is a direct result of a lack of accountability for reckless drivers and a culture of prioritizing convenience over safety. We need immediate action to ensure no more lives are lost, and change the way we handle reckless drivers. Passing these bills is the first step towards creating a sustainable transportation system that works and is safe for everyone,”  said New York State Senator Julia Salazar 

“The 156 New Yorkers who have lost their lives on New York City’s streets this year to date are proof that we have an epidemic of traffic violence on our hands,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “It’s time for legislative action to end the carnage on New York City’s streets; three bills put forth by myself, Speaker Corey Johnson, and my colleague Brad Lander would do exactly that. My bill, Intro 1574, would create a commercial waste zone system to reign in the private carting industry and end their out-of-control conduct on our city’s streets. A commercial waste zone system in conjunction with Speaker Johnson’s Streets Master Plan Bill and Council Member Brad Lander’s Reckless Driver Accountability Act is exactly the kind of comprehensive action that we need to make our streets safer for all users. I join Transportation Alternatives and allies in calling for the swift passage of these bills.”

“The increase in cyclists fatalities has left many New Yorkers in fear. We must continue to support and stand behind legislation that will ensure our cyclists and pedestrians remain protected under all circumstances,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chairman of the Committee On Transportation. “My goal as chairman has been to make New York City the most pedestrian and cyclist friendly in the entire country. We must begin to decrease the City’s car culture, our streets must be shared by all.”

“We must do more to improve street safety and protect New Yorkers by coming at the issue with approaches that include re-imagining our streets and holding individuals accountable to their actions. I am proud to support these three measures from Speaker Johnson and Council Members Lander and Reynoso that address the need to create smarter and safer streets that better protect all New Yorkers," said Council Member Keith Powers

"Commercial drivers and cyclists are coming together because there is a safety crisis in the private carting industry. This is one of the most dangerous jobs in the city and this is the most dangerous industry on our streets. The solution to protect New Yorkers on both sides of the windshield is to pass the City Council's Commercial Waste Zones bill and put an end to the recklessly long hours, dangerous trucks, and exploitative jobs. These companies must finally be held accountable," said Sean Campbell, President of Teamsters Local 813

"We know that far too many people have been killed on our streets this year. But most New Yorkers probably don’t know that just in this month alone, three people have been killed by private sanitation trucks. Or that more than half of inspected trucks are taken out of service in New York City because of safety violations like bad brakes. Private carting companies’ dismal safety record puts us all at risk. And as long as these companies engage in a race to the bottom and push their workers beyond the limits, this is not going to change. The city needs to pass Intro 1574 to change this industry and bring safety to our communities," said Maritza Silva-Farrell, Executive Director, ALIGN

“It is shameful that low-road private carters – some of whom have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against reform – still haven’t taken basic measures to protect cyclists and pedestrians while fatalities continue to rise.  New data shows that just 15% of these trucks have side guards, yet these same companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying against reform. The City Council needs to Intro 1574 as soon as possible to begin transforming this dangerous and irrational system,” said Justin Wood, Director of Organizing and Strategic Research, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

"Every week, I hear from people with disabilities who are blind, use wheelchairs, use a cane or walker about their close calls with death on the streets. People describe being side swiped or hit. One dear friend of mine died crossing the street when she was hit by a truck. I myself was hit by a taxi. I thank Council Member Salazar, Council Speaker Johnson, Council Member Reynoso and Council Member Landers for the presentation of these landmark bills. Sometimes, the best way across the street is through City Hall,"  said Susan M. Dooha, Executive Director, Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY (CIDNY).

“The Vision Zero Youth Council is made up of Teens who all have seen the state of our streets, and for whom the problem is clear; We are on streets that are designed primarily for cars, we are in danger everyday due to the reckless drivers who haven't been held accountable, but we know that there is a better way. Because of this we are grateful to the many officials who have stepped up and created measures that could prioritize safe streets, not thoroughfare, and that will stop the rampage of reckless drivers. We are excited to see these measures get passed, and to see them save lives,” said Zane Walker and Avery Dermer, Co-Leaders, Vision Zero Youth Council

“It’s imperative that the City Council move all three of these life-saving bills without any further delay. More than 15 months ago, we stood with Council Member Lander in City Hall Park when he introduced the Reckless Driver Accountability Act, and it’s unconscionable that it still hasn’t come before the Council for a vote. We have the technology to intervene with habitually dangerous drivers before they kill or seriously injure our fellow New Yorkers, and every day we fail to act, we increase the chances that another life will end tragically or be forever altered.” Said Eric McClure, Executive Director, StreetsPAC

"The brunt of climate crisis has been borne by the working class communities who have contributed to it the least. To achieve climate justice, we must adopt bold climate policies that also benefit those frontline communities. The largest sacrifices should be made by the 1% who have profited by exploiting workers and the environment for centuries. The passage of this safe streets legislation would do just that. The need to redesign our transit system to reduce our emissions is an opportunity to make our transit system more equitable, safe, and accessible. By implementing commercial waste zones, we will not only cut emissions by 50% and improve recycling and composting rates, but we will save the lives of countless pedestrians and cyclists, and improve safety standards for workers who have long been exploited in a race to the bottom. Nearly a century ago, Robert Moses shaped our city's future with his car-centric vision. Now, we can reject his vision and shape our city's future with a people-centric transit system instead. We can build a robust network of bike lanes and public transit options that will make NYC more equitable and enjoyable in the process. We need to democratize, decarbonize, and decommodify our transit system, and these pieces of safe streets legislation would be a huge first step down the right road." said Amber Ruther, Democratic Socialists of America - Ecosocialist Working Group

“A master plan for streets will clarify city policy for everyone, and allow city agencies to focus on how, not whether, to prioritize safe and sustainable transportation across the Five Boroughs,” said Jon Orcutt, communications director for Bike New York 

 “This is an opportunity to not only make waste hauling more efficient, but also greatly reduce its environmental impact and its threat to life and limb.” said Kristofer Sunderic, Union for Concerned Scientists