ON August 13, Public Advocate Letitia James introduced two traffic safety bills in the New York City Council aimed at reducing pedestrian deaths across the City. The first bill would require the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish protected left turn signals at 100 additional intersections with four or more traffic lanes. The second bill would require the DOT to provide reports on all pedestrian right-of-way violations to identify intersections requiring better safety measures.
“By increasing the number of protected left turn signals at large intersections and taking a closer look at locations with chronic right-of-way violations, we can make Vision Zero a reality.”
At last year’s Vision Zero conference CHEKPEDS advocated for such a measure. We have been a vocal supporter of Left turn signals to improve pedestrian safety. On the Chelsea portion of the bike lanes where left turn signals are installed, crashes were reduced by 50% versus 30% where they were not . As part the Hell’s Kitchen Traffic Study , Chekpeds has requested the installation of over 10 such signals in our neighborhood, and two new ones were just installed at 41st street and 9th avneue where two people were killed and at 43rd Street and 9th Avenue.
According to a report commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New York State has the most pedestrian fatalities caused by left-turning vehicles of any state in the country. And according to the New York City DOT, left-turn pedestrian collisions outnumber right-turn collisions 3-1.
“T.A. supports Public Advocate James’ two pieces of new Vision Zero legislation,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The proposal for dedicated left-turn signals is an opportunity for the NYC DOT to continue leading this effort … We applaud Public Advocate James for pursuing public accountability, enforcement and transparency as part of Vision Zero implementation.”
The Right of Way Law, enacted by the City last year, increased penalties for drivers by making it a misdemeanor to hit pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way. Public Advocate James believes quarterly reports on violations of this newly established law will help inform where additional safety measures are needed.