Vision Zero is Mayor Bill de Blasio’s initiative to end traffic deaths and injuries on New York City streets.
Members of the City Council were joined by representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOT), NYPD, NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs and Transportation Alternatives to listen to residents’ concerns regarding street safety across the borough.
“I am personally committed and moved by having the experience of talking to many families who have lost their loved ones,” said Councilman and chairperson of the Transportation Committee, Ydanis Rodriguez. “It’s a crisis, so we are committed to working with the mayor to make Vision Zero a reality.”
All of the council members voiced support for Vision Zero and expressed their personal commitments to seeing safer streets across the boroughs.
“It is absolutely essential that every single street in every single neighborhood be safe, and that every single person be able to go to school, go to work, go home, without fearing for their lives just to cross the street,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
“I’m just happy that we have a mayor that realizes that traffic safety needs to be a priority for the city,” Councilman Donovan Richards added.
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said that she hopes to make New York the “safest big city in the world.”
After each of the members of the panel was given a chance to speak, the floor was opened up to the public. Queens residents were given one minute to voice their concerns and opinions.
Over 40 people signed up to speak, and their suggestions ranged from very specific cross streets that need attention to general complaints about various aspects of street safety in the city.
Community Board 6 member and resident of Rego Park Peter Beadle spoke about redesigning the entirety of Queens Boulevard.
“I am the father of a 12-year-old whose one of thousands of children who have to cross Queens Boulevard every day twice to get to and from school,” Beadle said. “Over the decades that street has been designed into a speedway.”
With help from various organizations, he has collected over 3,300 petition signatures asking DOT to look at redesigning the boulevard to be more pedestrian friendly for the countless adults and children that must cross it every day.
Beadle’s complaint was one of many. Some said that pedestrians needed to be held more accountable for jaywalking, while others asked for more visible bike lanes. Taxi drivers were accused of speeding, and garbage truck drivers were called out for driving recklessly.
One faculty member at LaGuardia Community College, Steven Levine, asked that the tolls at the midtown tunnel be lowered so that drivers do not create traffic trying to avoid the $7.50 fee.
The elected officials and other representatives on the panel recorded all of the complaints and suggestions and said they would be reviewing them in order to take official action.
After the residents each spoke, the board was given the opportunity to quickly respond to the community. Each reiterated his or her support of Vision Zero and promised to continue efforts to make the city’s streets safer.
“I will never stop until Vision Zero is a reality in my district and this city,” Van Bramer said.