When will MTA join in on Vision Zero?

While pedestrian deaths are at an all time low ( 131 in 2014) , MTA is not making any progress. Based on crashes reported in the media, MTA bus drivers have killed as many pedestrians and cyclists so far this year as they did in 2013.

You would think MTA is actively participating in Vision Zero task force . Well not exactly. In October 2014 at a breakout session of the Vision Zero Symposium, where bus companies explained their safety programs, the MTA made a presentation that could have been written in 1960. Nothing specific except posters at the bus depot. When challenged on why they were not part of the Vision Zero task force, they told a shocked audience- which included families of traffic victims – that they had not been invited!

In December 2014, the MTA has agreed to pay $1.8 million settlement to the family of an FIT student, who was fatally struck by a city bus operated by a driver who had previously been suspended for texting while behind the wheel.  Seth Kahn was 22 when an MTA bus struck him in the crosswalk at Ninth Avenue and West 53rd Street. Driver Jeremy Philhower was making a left turn from West 53rd Street onto Ninth Avenue. Read More. The MTA had been appealing the verdict for two years.

MTA bus drivers have killed at least seven pedestrians and one cyclist this year, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Only one case reportedly involved an electronic device — a woman who was run over when she reached under a bus to retrieve a cell phone.Of the other six pedestrians, all were hit by bus drivers making right or left turns, and in five cases media and police accounts confirmed or suggested the victim had the right of way. There is no evidence that any of the remaining seven victims were distracted by electronic devices when they were struck.

So it is completely logical that in early December the MTA released a victim blaming PSA’s showing a woman in a pedestrian crossing listening to a music player and being hit by a bus . The message is clearly that she should have paid attention. No mention that the pedestrian has the right of way and the bus driver is at fault.

And On December 31st, MTA announced new features to increase pedestrian safety: Buses will blare warnings through speakers to alert pedestrians at corners under MTA pilot program- Yes, there is not enough noise in the street beyond the honking, the ambulances, the police, the fire department, the private carters and the construction!  Thankfully they will also explore Another “collision avoidance” pilot in the works will use radar and sensors to detect — and then alert — bus drivers of pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles in the immediate vicinity, including so-called “blind spots.” Daily News 

The culture of blaming the pedestrian instead of the drivers is deeply seated in the MTA. The arrest of a bus driver for fatally running over a pedestrian last night was so unusual that MTA bus operators in Brooklyn refused to leave their depots this morning in protest, the Post reports. According to the tabloid, the drivers were outraged over the arrest of B44 bus operator Reginald Prescott, who was charged with failure to yield after fatally striking 78-year-old Jean Bonne-Annee in East Flatbush.The failure to yield criminal charge is a relatively new law enforcement tool. In May, the City Council passed NYC Administrative Code Section 19-190. ”They’re angry,” an anonymous source told the Post. “It’s the first time I’ve heard of someone getting arrested for a fatality. Brooklyn was very close to shutting down.”

 

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