City Council approves 11-bill Vision Zero package
The City Council today approved an 11-bill Vision Zero legislative package that will put several traffic and pedestrian safety measures into place, and begin enforcement of Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to end all pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorist deaths in New York City.
"These eleven bills and six resolutions make up a comprehensive and meaningful plan of action to reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths in our city," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito told reporters.
The most significant changes to the law—a change in the city's legal speed limit and tougher penalties for reckless driving—still need approval from the state Legislature.
Mark-Viverito said discussions in Albany are ongoing but she remains confident the measures will receive legislative approval.
"Our hope is, yes, I believe that they're in movement at the state level. We have put some of these measures in our legislative agenda, and we continue to advocate," she said.
Albany recently approved a bill giving the city additional speed cameras but a bill to allow the city to lower the speed limit has been in the Senate's cities committee since its introduction by Senator Martin Dilan in January.
The approved measures approved include requirements for the Department of Transportation to repair and replace traffic signals within 24 hours of being notified of a malfunction and to conduct a review of safety guidelines for work zones and present their findings to the City Council.
Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal of Manhattan sponsored a bill named for Cooper Stock, a 9-year-old boy who was killed by a taxi driver as he crossed the street with his father. The bill would allow the Taxi and Limousine Commission to review and possibly revoke cab drivers' licenses if they're involved in an accident that causes a death or critical injury.
"Cooper's Law is meant to address Cooper's mother's concern that she will never have to worry that she'll get into the taxi of the man who killed her son," Rosenthal said.
At least one council member voiced concern over the law. Councilman Mark Weprin of Queens supported the package but voted against Cooper's Law, saying it could unfairly jeopardize a cabbie's livelihood in first-time offender cases.
"Not to diminish what has happened at all, but this is the livelihood of these drivers," Weprin said. "If someone is a great driver up until that one moment, to lose their livelihood and the food that feeds their children I think would create a problem. … There are penalties that can be given that might be lesser for those people who are not as culpable as those who we want to get."
The Vision Zero package also creates seven 20 m.p.h. neighborhood slow zones and outlaws "stunt behavior" from drivers.
The T.L.C.'s authority is also increased by some of the measures by giving it power to combine D.M.V. and T.L.C. driving points on cab driver's license.
"We're also going to mandate that the Taxi and Limousine Commission disclose detailed information and statistics about all traffic accidents and violations and require that drivers be held accountable for their violation points both by the T.L.C. and the state Department of Motor Vehicles," Mark-Viverito said.
In a statement, de Blasio called the bills a "major step forward for our Vision Zero initiative."
The bills will be sent to the mayor to be signed into law in the coming weeks.