New York Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed Wednesday to stem the rising tide of pedestrian fatalities in the city, outlining several new safety measures including installing new safety cameras and issuing more speeding tickets.
Eleven New Yorkers have been killed in traffic accidents in the first two weeks of the year, including seven pedestrians.
“We think there is an epidemic here, and it can’t go on,” de Blasio said at a press conference held just a block from where 8-year-old Noshat Nahian was struck and killed while walking to his Queens school in December.
“The goal is literally to reduce fatalities on our roadways to zero,” he added.
The mayor, whose plan to eradicate traffic fatalities by 2024 is called “Vision Zero,” said he was commissioning a task force comprised of leaders from police, transit, health and the Taxi and Limousine Commission
charged with coming up with plans to make the city’s streets safer.
But certain steps will be taken immediately, de Blasio said.
“The first obligation of government is to protect the health and safety of our people and this is an area in which we simply have to do better,” de Blasio said.
The city will use traffic cameras to issue more tickets — not just warnings — to enforce the speed limits on certain streets. Additionally, the NYPD will deploy more officers to enforce against serious traffic violations.
De Blasio said he planned to dramatically expand the number of streets that carry a reduced 20 mph speed limit and petition the state Legislature to give the city more authority to install traffic cameras throughout the five boroughs.
De Blasio met with several families who lost children in crashes and was clearly moved by their plight. He spoke haltingly, frequently sighing to compose himself, and repeatedly invoked his own children when discussing protecting the city’s youth.
“This is the core of our lives,” he said.
Victims’ relatives, many carrying pictures of their loved ones who were killed in accidents, wiped their eyes during the mayor’s remarks. Many said they would go with him to Albany to petition the Legislature if needed.
“We simply have to do something,” said a tearful Amy Cohen, whose 8-year-old son, Sammy Cohen Eckstein, was struck and killed by a van in October in Brooklyn. “For him. For any child.”