Christine Quinn Wants to Save the Streets From Themselves

Between 2009 and 2011, approximately 450 people died crossing the street in New York City. Whether to reckless driving, not looking both ways, or sheer confusion, the city lost 450 residents. And that's not counting bicycle fatalities. Needless to say, like subway deaths, it's become a problem that demands fixing ASAP, especially with the advent of CitiBike next weekend.

Enter Christine Quinn.

In a statement released yesterday, the City Council speaker and mayoral frontrunner laid out her platform on the issue of ground-level urban planning. Her goal is straightforward: By 2021, Quinn wants to cut New York City's street fatalities in half.

"Whether on four wheels, two wheels or none at all--we need to make sure New Yorkers can safely and easily get around the five boroughs. These proposals will make sure our streets, intersections and crosswalks are not a place where pedestrians and bicyclists lives are at risk and will make commuting by bicycle an easier option for any commuter who chooses it."

And what exactly are those "proposals"? You've heard them all before from Mayor Bloomberg: more speed cameras, coordination of NYPD resources for a heavier street presence, countdown clocks on troubled intersections, and a large focus on integrating the bicycle with the city's hustle and bustle via bike lanes and the like. It would be a continuation of a policy that the Bloomberg administration has heralded: the idea that the government can direct attention by playing an enormous role in the safety of our streets.

To perform all of these tasks, Quinn wants to set up something called the "Safe Streets Working Group," which will be a combined effort from the departments of Transportation, Urban Planning, and Health, and the NYPD, to make our streets more walkable. According to the plan, this interagency development would be given the foresight mentioned before--fatalities cut in half by 2021--and the funds to reach it.

Whether it's achievable is a different story. Regardless, a goal to make our streets safer is never too lofty.


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thought I was in favor of bike lanes until I experienced living with them. Now, I would like them GONE. 

They seem to be used--and not all that frequently--mostly by restaurant deliverers, who ride in both directions in our southbound lane. They do not use bells or horns or reflectors, so it's next to impossible to know they are bearing down on you.
Recreational biker-lane users seem shocked that they are expected to obey traffic laws, and they think nothing of plowing through pedestrians on the sidewalks even though the bike lane is right next to them. 
In this neighborhood, both they and those who bike to and from work can use Central Park and/or Riverside Park. 

Each bike lane occupies what once was a full traffic lane, part for the bike and part for the car-door swing that used to take place over the sidewalk. Delivery vehicles no longer double park; now they triple park. 

You can't hail a cab from the sidewalk because they can't see you. You have to go out into speeding traffic. I've had cabbies refuse to let me off on my side of the street because they are afraid of being struck from behind.  

Recently, when I called a car service to take me to the hospital, rather than park smack in the fire lane in the middle of Columbus Ave., the driver had to pull into a fairly safe spot a block away and I had to hobble that far to get to him. 

I'm at an age when to pay for a cab that won't pick me up or drop me off at my door is just plain frivolous. 

I do worry about the restaurant deliverers, but I've been noticing many riding in regular traffic lanes, even when a bike lane is available. Besides, our bike lane only goes south; to go north, the deliverers still have to ride in traffic--or ride north in a southbound lane. 

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