On Friday November, 7, the City of New York's 25 MPH speed limit law takes effect citywide. It's a beautiful day as one Mayor Bill De Blasio's centerpieces of his Vision Zero traffic fatility elimination plan now bears fruition. What does it mean? It means that the speed limit on all NYC roads without a posted sign otherwise, now have the speed limit lowered from 30 MPH to 25 MPH. Most highways will see their speed limits remain the same, as well as other roadways with a higher or lower speed limit of 25 MPH. 20 MPH safety zones will remain in place as well. As of Saturday 11/8, there are 30 MPH signs still posted on certain Bronx streets such as portions of Bronxwood Ave and East 222nd Street. So what effect will the 25 MPH do on drivers? . Nothing, they will still driver recklessly with a wanton disregard for traffic safety. Drivers will still speed, change lanes without signaling, blow past STOP signs and do everything on their dumbphones with one hand on the phone, the other hand on the steering wheel while in motion. I was driving early Friday morning on the connector road between Dr. Theodore Kazimiroff Blvd and Allerton Ave, near the Bronx River Parkway when a driver behind me honked because I was driving at or close to 25 MPH. That's New York for you, always in a hurry to get into an accident.
You can read the entire Vision Zero action plan (in .pdf) right here
But something else bothers me too, about De Blasio's message. It's not the message that bothers me, its who will be carrying out the message. The National Waste and Recycling Association (NW&RA) endorsed a plan to carry free advertising with "I DRIVE 25" bumper stickers on their 9,000 carting trucks. Maybe these trucks should have stickers carrying "I RUN RED LIGHTS AND DRIVE AGAINST TRAFFIC FLOW" too - - many trucks I see work late at night when few cars and pedestrians are visible on city streets. Some of these trucks I observed drive the wrong way on one-way streets, illegally back into the one way street, or drive across the dual yellow lines to the opposite direction so they can collect the waste or recyclables. Blowing past STOP signs is common about these trucks (and many other drivers across most modes of vehicular, and bike, transport).
Here are two videos of two different carting trucks in the Bronx - - shot in daylight. You figure out the hypocrisy.
Mayor De Blasio should think about stepping up enforcement on drivers of carting vehicles (both NYC Sanitation and private companies) first before sending a message out that private carting drivers are complying with the 25 MPH law.
To make Vision Zero work, the NYPD should step up it's enforcement zeal. This is not about raising revenue, it's about saving lives. It's not just the 25 MPH speed limit, it's about obeying every law within the NYC Traffic Rules and NY State Vehicle & Traffic Law, including making a proper STOP (not blowing by like the STOP sign doesn't exist), failure in yielding to pedestrians and other vehicles, fail to use turn signal at least 100 feet prior in changing lanes or making a turn, making illegal u turns on a crosswalk, tailgating (does anyone read their insurance documents, particularly the part where certain accidents are not chargeable against the policyholder?), slowing down in construction zones 24/7 and using a cell phone while actively in motion.
Here are two videos of drivers ignoring STOP signs - - one on southbound White Plains Road at Gun Hill Road, the other on East 222nd Street and Givan Ave, both in the Bronx. The first video also shows a NYC Transit bus operator on the Bx41 Select Bus Service+ route failing to obey the STOP sign.
I would endorse a plan for the NYPD what they would use unmarked vehicles in following the driver of a specific vehicle who is breaking multiple traffic laws. When an officer (armed with his dashboard camera) observes the driver committing 4 or more traffic violations of any kind, the officers should arrest and charge the driver with Reckless Driving, a misdemeanor. Put into place a new law of aggravated reckless driving and make it a felony if one of the 4 traffic violations involve a school bus STOP violation, use of the cell phone while driving, or speeding in excess of 25 MPH - - as well as impounding the vehicle at the scene and a minimum 1 year license revocation if convicted on the felony Reckless Endangerment charge. It's time now to change the culture of driving in NYC as well as setting an example for other major cities to follow, such as San Francisco which is making a major push in implementing their Vision Zero plans.
Next month: A follow up blog to Vision Zero and the 25 MPH law, including a video I will ask one of my passengers in my vehicle to take around the Bronx as I am driving - - in the post 25 MPH speed limit era.