NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday signed a series of traffic bills into law as part of his “Vision Zero” plan to reduce traffic injuries and deaths in New York City.
Among them is a crackdown on careless drivers, redesigning dangerous intersections and reducing speeds near schools and other key areas across the city. One of the bills also gives pedestrians new legal protection by punishing drivers who endanger them.
“We have promised the people of this city that we will use every tool we have to make streets safer,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Today is another step on our path to fulfilling that promise and sparing more families the pain of losing a son, a daughter, or a parent in a senseless tragedy.”
Another of the laws, called Cooper’s Law will allow the city to instantly pull the license of a cab driver who critically injures or kills someone, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.
The statute is named after 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who was killed by a cab in January while walking with his father in a crosswalk on the Upper West Side.
“I don’t understand why these rules hadn’t been in place, and why did it take a child dying for all this to have to happen?” Cooper’s mother, Dana Lerner, told WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb. “So that is something I guess will haunt me and I’m confused about.”
Cooper’s Law is set to take effect Sept. 21.
Before the bill signing, de Blasio walked across Northern Boulevard at 61st Street, where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was hit and killed by a truck while crossing the street on his way to school in December.
“When you stand at a spot where a child was lost you feel something,” the mayor said.
Northern and 61st is now a safer intersection after a series of improvements, including two new pedestrian islands to shorten crossing distances and enhanced crosswalks.
Also outlawed are driving stunts. Doing wheelies, donuts and burnouts could costs daredevils up to $1,000 and a year in jail.
Apparently not at the top of the mayor’s list is helping motorists by cracking down on jaywalking and cracking down on bicyclists who weave in and out of traffic, going into whatever lane they want. CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer asked de Blasio why.
“We think in the ordering of things that the changes in the speed limit, the school slow zones, the greater enforcement actions we’re taking with the (Taxi and Limousine Commission) these are the essential actions that we have to take,” the mayor said.
The city says 250 New Yorkers are killed and 4,000 are injured every year. Who can argue that jaywalkers are a driver’s nightmare, but not the mayor’s priority?
“The jaywalking piece is at the discretion of the local precinct commanders and they will make moves accordingly,” de Blasio said.
What about bicyclists who don’t stay to the side of the road or go up one-way streets the wrong way?
“Of course, bicyclists going the wrong way down on a street can pose a real danger to everyone involved, so, yes, you’ve seen enforcement on that,” de Blasio said.
The NYPD said education is key.
“We are also gearing up to sit down with our community and also our advocacy groups on an education campaign to reach out to the bicycle public and then, again, well probably follow up with enforcement down the road,” said Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan.
De Blasio also praised legislative leaders in Albany on Monday for passing legislation last week that allows the city to lower its speed limit to 25 mph.
The legislation is set to go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature.
The mayor’s office has said the speed limit decrease could reduce pedestrian fatalities by 10 percent.
For more information about “Vision Zero,” click here.
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