Six pedestrians -- including two children -- were killed by drivers this week in New York City.
Meanwhile, a Staten Island councilman continued his online campaign criticizing NYC speed limits and speed cameras -- part of the Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero plan to improve street safety -- as ineffectual and an attack on drivers.
Councilmember Joe Borelli has publicly blasted the Reckless Driver Accountability Act, which requires drivers who rack up five red light tickets or 15 school speed zone violations within a one year period to take a safe driving course. If they fail to do so, the NYC Sheriff can seize and impound their vehicles. But drivers whose vehicles are seized can get them back once they complete the course.
Borelli also tweeted in support of a guerilla campaign on Staten Island to alert drivers to the presence of speed cameras with yellow ribbons tied around nearby poles and trees. "If a person is aware of a camera and slows down, thats a win for everyone by my measure," he tweeted of the yellow ribbons, and wondered if the cameras were "punishing the driver" in an appearance on NY1.
In a phone interview, Borelli said he's supportive of traffic safety measures in general -- but he doesn't buy into rhetoric that demonizes his car-bound constituents.
"At the end of the day, Staten Islanders require their cars to get from point A to point B," Borelli said Friday. "There's just no two ways about that. And to hear people constantly talk about the need to break car culture and to ban cars is insulting to the few New York City residents in perhaps the one borough that has no other choice...call me crazy. But inconveniencing your constituents is not something that most people hope government does."
Streetsblog revealed Thursday that Borelli's vehicle has received five speed-camera-issued tickets.
"I don't deny I went over the speed limit," Borelli said. "That's wrong, and I apologize for it. You know, I'm not someone who's going to live in ignorance of my own violations and pretend like they didn't happen." He went on to say the borough needs more sidewalks and alternatives to driving as real solutions for street safety.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said the yellow ribbon campaign "defeats the purpose" of speed cameras in comments at a recent Council meeting.
"If you are alerting people to where the speed cameras are...people will know, 'well, I can't speed here, but I can speed here.' And it defeats the purpose of us trying to get people to slow down across the board, to go with the speed limit," Johnson said Thursday. "Because we know that people are losing their lives.
"The program was put in place for a reason -- it was to save lives," Johnson added. "And if you remember, the reason why it was expanded was to save lives of children in your schools. We need to keep taking measures to save people. There is an epidemic of traffic violence in New York City."
The man behind the yellow ribbon campaign, artist Scott LoBaido, told the Staten Island Advance that these invasive, money sucking cameras are just a big F U to Staten Island." LoBaido also had volunteers standing by 80 speed camera locations holding posters of Mayor Bill de Blasio with horns and money signs adorning his head last weekend.
Studies have shown that lower speed limits have direct correlation to pedestrian survival rates in collisions. The city DOT has said that speed cameras are "highly effective at deterring speeding. Speeding during school hours at typical fixed camera locations drops 63 percent. Despite the fact that the City is prohibited from using speed cameras during the majority of the year, injuries at these locations have dropped 17 percent." The deterrence factor also works outside of school zones -- roughly 80 percent of drivers who receive a speed camera violation don't get a second ticket within three years, according to the DOT.
So far this year, 22 pedestrians have been killed by drivers, according to the NYPD.
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