City receives grant to fight pedestrian deaths

Rahul Krishnamoorthy, Staff Writer

via flickr.com

New York City received an $800,000 federal grant on April 25 as part of a campaign to combat the increasing number of pedestrian deaths and injuries.

The grant, the largest of three such awards given out nationwide from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration as part of the Everyone is a Pedestrian campaign, came at the same time Mayor Bill de Blasio implemented the “Vision Zero” plan.

“Vision Zero” is meant to increase traffic law enforcement and implement more regulations affecting motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike — including a crack-down on jaywalking — with the end goal of reducing citywide traffic safety-related fatalities to zero by the year 2024.

In recent years, pedestrian deaths have risen, even as overall traffic-related mortalities have declined. The NHTSA reported that pedestrians accounted for 47 percent of all New York City traffic-related mortalities in their most recent study in 2012.

By increasing enforcement in high-crash areas throughout the city, the grant will combat reckless motorist behaviors such as speeding and failing to yield at pedestrian crosswalks. The money will also fuel an awareness campaign through social media venues.

According to an April 25 press release from the NHTSA, the campaign targets the demographic most heavily involved in pedestrian crashes both as victims and perpetrators — young men.

Tisch sophomore Raul Carvajal has witnessed first-hand the dangers of poor traffic safety enforcement. Having been the victim of a hit-and-run accident last year, Carvajal said he hopes more resources will decrease accidents.

“I was following the legal procedure when walking across the street… but was still struck,” Carvajal said. “I feel like this ‘Vision Zero’ initiative will be of great benefit to the city and its inhabitants.”

But opinions on heightened traffic law enforcement around NYU are mixed.

Tisch senior Hannah Kallenbach said she was concerned about the potential for jaywalking to be penalized in a heightened enforcement environment.

“In the area of our campus, people like to cross whenever they want to cross,” Kallenbach said. “I think most of the time it’s our fault when people’s cars hit us, because most of the time they’re going like two miles an hour. If anything, I think it could benefit motorists.”

CAS junior Komal Sahi, however, found the idea of an increase in traffic law enforcement around campus promising for cyclists.

She said she hopes the grant makes it safer for pedestrians to navigate the streets.

“Ultimately it sounds like it will be helpful, especially at night because the visibility isn’t that good by the park, where there aren’t enough streetlights,” Sahi said. “And more enforcement on cyclists obeying the laws would definitely help — they can get out of hand. But on the whole, I think it will be helpful to the NYU community.”

NYU spokesman Philip Lentz said that while de Blasio’s plan does not directly affect NYU students, he hopes “Vision Zero” meets its goal.

“If the mayor’s initiative can help ensure that our community never has to lose one of its members to a traffic accident, we would be deeply grateful,” Lentz said.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 30 print edition. Rahul Krishnamoorthy is a staff writer. Email him at news@nyunews.com. 

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