By JOAN MARTINEZ and REBECCA IBARRA
More red light cameras and reducing the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph were the chief measures Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed on Tuesday in a pedestrian safety plan announced at a school in an Upper West Side neighborhood where many recent pedestrian fatalities have occurred.
“Our lives are literally in each other’s hands,” the mayor said from a podium at P.S. 75 to a crowd that included family members of victims struck by cars.
To dramatize the event the mayor said that three fatalities had occurred in in the last month nearby on West 96th Street and Broadway, calling the incidents “part of broader city-wide epidemic.” Two years ago a student was struck but survived, de Blasio added.
Many proposals in the 63-point plan require action by Albany but the mayor expressed optimism that state legislators would be “receptive” to the measures on which a “consensus” existed.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said 70 percent of pedestrians being struck in the last five years occurred due to “speed or failure to yield” to pedestrians in crosswalks. Bratton vowed to boost enforcement of speed limits and other traffic rules fostering pedestrian safety.
On reducing to city speed limit — which requires Albany approval – the mayor said the rate of fatality “drops when speeds are below 25 miles per hour.”
To bolster the case for adding red light and speed cameras to intersections city officials pointed out that the earlier installation of enforcement cameras at 20 locations last month has prompted the issuance of 4,000.
“But the city must protect more than 6,000 miles of streets,” the mayor said, so more cameras were needed.
The mayor called the statics “sobering.”
Pedestrian fatalities are the number one cause of death of children under the age of 15 and the number two cause of death of the elderly, officials said. By comparison there were over 300 homicides last year and nearly as many traffic fatalities — 286. “More than 20 lives have been lost in our streets so far this year,” Mayor de Blasio said.
Other measures included redesigning “dangerous corridors” and expanding neighborhood slow zones. Anti-jaywalking enforcement was not included in the measures though de Blasio stressed that police commanders had the “discretion” to enforce jaywalking laws.
The police department, Taxi and Limousine Commission, and several more agencies were given one month to make a plan to have zero pedestrian fatalities in the next decade.
The mayor also called for a grassroots effort to “raise consciousness and changing behavior,” from police precincts to block associations.