Pedestrian Safety Update: February 16, 2014
Ever since the pedestrian tragedies in our neighborhood last month, I’ve been in touch with DOT and my colleagues in the City Council about measures to improve pedestrian safety.
On Friday, February 14, 2014 I submitted a request for legislation in City Council asking for change to the City’s Administrative Code regulating the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC). The legislation would require mandatory license suspension and investigation for any taxi driver who kills or causes serious injury to a pedestrian or biker. Upon investigation, if it is determined that the driver “failed to yield” to the pedestrian or biker, then their TLC license would be permanently revoked.
Currently, taxi drivers may get points and on their license and a small fine; if they have fewer than six total points on their license, they are allowed to get back on the road immediately. My proposed legislation would change that: it would keep the driver off the road while the police investigate the accident, and if the driver is found guilty of failure to yield, their TLC license would be revoked.
Additionally, I have proposed the following to DOT for 97th and West End:
1. Lengthen the pedestrian lead time at 97th and West End Avenue from 7 seconds to 12 seconds (implemented January 22, 2014)
2. Install large “Yield to Pedestrian” sign on 97th and West End Avenue (completed January 31, 2014)
3. Change traffic light sequencing so that cars traveling east to west on 97th street see a red light at West End Avenue when there is a green light crossing Broadway (awaiting response from DOT)
Here are the key points from the DOT plan for 96th and Broadway, which will be implemented March 1, 2014:
1. Two left turns banned: southbound Broadway to eastbound West 96th Street and westbound West 96th Street to southbound Broadway
2. Expanded pedestrian space on north mall
3. New mall-to-mall crosswalk
4. New flush median and lane designations for West 96th Street
5. Simpler signal phasing
6. If you’d like to read the DOT plan in full, you can at this link
On January 16, 2014 Council Member Mark Levine and I wrote to DOT with recommendations for immediate changes to signage and traffic signal timing. If you’re interested, you can read the letter we wrote and the DOT reply.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for how we can make our neighborhood as safe as possible. Feel free to call my office at (212) 873-0282 or email me at AskHelen@HelenRosenthal.com.
February Update from Helen
It’s hard to know where to start, so I’m going to work backwards.
Traffic Safety. This past week DOT presented their plan to improve pedestrian safety. The community responded favorably, and DOT promises to begin construction in March. This expedited turnaround is, in part, due to our office working closely with Councilman Mark Levine (District 7) and NYS Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell in response to the tragedies. As a quick response to the death of nine-year-old Cooper Stock at West 97th and West End Avenue, I urged DOT to post a large “Yield to Pedestrian” sign and increase the amount of time a pedestrian has to cross at West End Avenue–both ideas have been implemented already. Lastly, speaking with the NYPD 24th precinct on a regular basis gave me insight into how seriously and thoughtfully our local precinct responded. They’ve worked hard to educate motorists and pedestrians alike. In January they issued over 300 tickets for moving violations to cars at that corner (and fewer than 30 jaywalking tickets). The truth is though, three pedestrian deaths is three too many… my heart aches for the families.
City Council Committee Assignments. I’m honored that our new Speaker entrusted me to be Chair of the Contracts Committee. Given my experience in the NYC budget office, I plan to tackle contract cost overruns and cost efficiency, ensuring that our social service providers are paid in a timely fashion (without fraud) and ensuring that our women- and minority-owned businesses are afforded bidding opportunities. I also sit on the Finance Committee which has a powerful role in overseeing the City’s $70 billion budget; the Housing and Buildings Committee, where I will do everything possible to improve the lives of rent regulated tenants; the Community Development Committee to ensure that economically disadvantaged neighborhoods are served well; and Oversight and Investigations, which has broad power to root out fraud and abuse.
Inauguration. It seems like forever ago, but I want to thank those of you who braved the ice to join the celebration. It was an honor to share the stage with my role models former City Councilwoman Ronnie Eldridge, MBP Gale Brewer, and NYS Senator Liz Krueger. Special thanks goes John Jay College for hosting, the Food and Finance High School for the delicacies, and the NYC Labor Chorus and LaGuardia HS Acapella group for making the event memorable. And, of course, none of this could’ve happened without the hard work of my campaign staff: Ahmed Tigani (Campaign Manager), Jason Harding (Field Director), and Daniella Eras (All around super-star). I am grateful that all three agreed to join my city council staff along with Marisa Maack (my Chief of Staff), Anna Gago, and Stephanie Buhle. To date, Jason, Ahmed, and Anna have served over 150 of our neighbors!
District Office. Which makes me think that folks know they can still come to 563 Columbus (between 87-88th streets) and know that they will get the attention they need. We’re working every day to help with landlord harassment, housing court, calling NYCHA for heat and hot water, SCRIE and DRIE applications, water main breaks, loose manhole covers, etc.
Councilmember Discretionary Funding. Stay tuned to my website: HelenRosenthal.com to learn more about the process for applying to the City for expense and capital funding for both non-profit and public organizations.
HelenRosenthal.com We’ll use our new website (should launch by next week) to keep everyone up to date about events in our neighborhood and the City; neighborhood alerts; legislation and policy; the City’s budget; discretionary funding opportunities; and more. We will also send out regular emails listing upcoming events.
Again, many thanks for giving me the privilege of serving you. As I said at the inauguration, there’s much to accomplish and we have a great team in city government to address pressing issues. Still, please keep my feet to the fire.