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De Blasio wants 25-mph speed limit for pedestrian safety

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton answer questions during a press conference on the Vision Zero Action Plan at P.S. 75 on the Upper West Side on Feb. 18, 2014. The Vision Zero Action Plan lays out a comprehensive roadmap to drastically reduce traffic-related deaths on New York City streets. Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to lower the speed limit on city streets to 25 mph from 30 mph, use more cameras to catch speeders and red-light evaders and crack down on reckless taxi drivers to make New York safer for pedestrians.

Those are among 63 steps in de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative, a strategy aiming to eliminate pedestrian deaths over the next decade. The Vision Zero approach has been successful in Sweden, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the administration said.

"We don't accept a status quo in this town that leads to so many people losing their lives who we could have saved," de Blasio said Tuesday.

The mayor spoke at a news conference at PS 75 on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Within a one-block radius of the school, three pedestrians have been killed since January. A student from the school was killed nearby two years ago.

"Our lives are literally in each other's hands. Our children's lives are in each other's hands," the mayor said.

Citing police statistics that speeding and "inappropriate turning" were to blame in 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities, Police Commissioner William Bratton said the department would increase the number of officers devoted to deterring bad driving and investigating crashes.

There are about 250 pedestrians deaths and 4,000 serious injuries a year, the report says.

As part of Vision Zero, the city's Taxi & Limousine Commission would be focusing on dangerous taxi and livery drivers, issuing fines and other penalties and looking for technologies that would slow down meters when the drivers speed.

The administration also plans to lobby Albany to increase penalties for reckless driving that injure pedestrians or bicyclists and to allow more red-light and speed cameras. A lower default speed limit requires City Council and state approval.

Since the city activated the speed cameras last month, de Blasio said nearly 4,000 drivers have been ticketed.

The proposals aren't only regulatory. Polly Trottenberg, the city's transportation commissioner, said pedestrians plazas -- the kinds pioneered in the city by the Bloomberg administration -- can help cut deaths and injury rates and could be expanded.

Absent from the proposals, however, is any planned targeting of pedestrians committing roadway offenses, such as jaywalking, Bratton said.

This is a change from last month, when Bratton, during a news conference, blamed pedestrian error as contributing to most crashes and, when asked, did not rule out targeting wayward pedestrians.

Asked Tuesday about pedestrians, the men said they will not be targeted for ticketing in a systematic way. "The anti-jaywalking measures are not part of the overall plan, but at the same time we absolutely respect the right of each precinct commander in NYPD to make decisions that they think are appropriate within their precinct," de Blasio said.


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