Council Passes Hit-and-Run Bill; Greenfield Tables Speed Limit Legislation

The City Council yesterday passed legislation requiring NYPD to post regular reports on the most serious hit-and-run crashes, while a bill to lower speed limits on certain streets has been set aside until next year.

The hit-and-run bill would mandate that NYPD report in writing quarterly on the total number of “critical injury” hit-and-run crashes, the number of crashes that resulted in arrest, and the number of crashes for which no arrest was made. NYPD would further be required to provide the council with crash locations, and “a brief description of what steps were taken to investigate” each incident. Crash data are to be disaggregated by precinct and posted online.

Critical injury status would be determined by emergency responders. FDNY EMS guidelines define a critically injured person as “a patient either receiving CPR, in respiratory arrest, or requiring and receiving life sustaining ventilator/circulatory support.”

If signed by Mayor Bloomberg, the bill would take effect in July 2015. The hit-and-run bill was authored by Council Members Leroy Comrie, Peter Koo, and Rosie Mendez.

“The sad and unfortunate case of Dante Dominguez — who was struck and killed by a hit and run driver last fall — along with the tragic deaths of many New Yorkers brings us together for today’s vote,” said Mendez, in a written statement. “This action is the very least that can be done to make sure that Dante’s untimely passing was not in vain and will, in fact, be the first step toward systemic change and additional measures led by the NYPD.”

“Furthermore,” said Mendez, “I hope the State Senate will adopt legislation to strengthen the investigative measures taken by the NYPD within the vicinity of any hit and run accident that results in a fatality or severe injury.”

Dante Dominguez was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Flushing in November 2012. Patrick Dominguez, the victim’s brother, told council members earlier this month that the NYPD investigation did not begin until a week after the crash. The driver was not caught.

NYPD currently investigates a tiny fraction of total pedestrian and cyclist injuries. According to Transportation Alternatives, of some 300 investigations conducted by the Collision Investigation Squad in 2012, around 60 involved hit-and-run drivers. Just 15 of those investigations resulted in arrest.

In other council news, a bill that would lower speed limits to 25 miles per hour on narrow one-way streets has been shelved. Sponsor David Greenfield issued the following statement Thursday:

Due to strong opposition to this life-saving legislation within the Bloomberg administration, I believe it will be more beneficial to reintroduce my legislation next year. There is no question that speeding drivers are one of the biggest threats to pedestrian safety in New York City. I am committed to reintroducing a bill in the next Council that will do what we have always set out to do — save as many lives as possible by lowering the speed limit in a responsible manner.

Greenfield’s original bill would have set speed limits no higher than 20 mph ”on all streets fewer than sixty feet wide in areas zoned for residential purposes.” But DOT told the council in October that state law permits the city to set speeds at 15 to 24 miles per hour only if other physical traffic-calming treatments are also implemented, or if a street is within a quarter-mile of a school. Greenfield told the Times in November that the revised bill would set speed limits at 25 mph on one-way streets with one lane of traffic.

Streetsblog asked Greenfield’s office why the revised bill did not aim to lower speeds to 25 mph citywide, but multiple calls and emails yielded no answer.

Bloomberg spokesperson Marc Lavorgna told WNYC Thursday that the mayor would support a 25 mph citywide speed limit, and said Greenfield’s bill is, in WNYC’s words, “too complicated.”

Addendum: Council Member Greenfield’s office took issue with our statement that multiple calls and emails regarding the revised speed limit bill, including a question pertaining to a citywide 25 mph speed limit, “yielded no answer.” To clarify: On November 27, the day before Thanksgiving, Streetsblog called Greenfield to ask about revisions to the speed limit bill. We were told the council member would call us back the same day. He did not. Two weeks later, on December 11, we called again, and it was agreed that Streetsblog would submit questions to the council member in writing. As of yesterday we had received no answers to our questions. We emailed Greenfield’s office again concerning the timetable for the revised bill, and shortly thereafter received the statement that appears in this story. Greenfield’s office told us today that, because of this story and a tweet we posted with a link to it, the council member may choose not to answer our questions on the speed limit bill at all.