Andrew Yang Rides The Bus … And Then Sort of Throws Pedestrians Under One

Andrew Yang tours Brownsville with Assembly Member Latrice Walker. Photo: Dave Colon
Andrew Yang tours Brownsville with Assembly Member Latrice Walker. Photo: Dave Colon

Humanity forward, but pedestrians backward?

New mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang kicked off his campaign on Thursday with a four-borough transit-only tour, but along the way suggested pedestrians better stay out of some streets in a Yang administration.

Yang’s final stop of his tour was in Brownsville, where he took a short walking tour with Assembly Member Latrice Walker. Streetsblog asked Yang how he would how he would improve on traffic safety and Vision Zero in Brownsville, where between 2018 and 2020 there were 4,870 crashes injuring 1,967 people and killing seven people, to bring the neighborhood’s crash numbers down to somewhere like Park Slope, where there were 46 percent fewer crashes resulting in 73 percent fewer injuries (and no deaths) over the period.

“I love the vision of Vision Zero, but it’s true that there are certain communities that haven’t had the resources invested in them to actually make that a reality, and this community would be very high on that list,” said Yang “Anyone who dies in an avoidable accident is a real tragedy, so if you can see that coming, systemically then it’s really something we should be able to prevent.”

But when asked for specifics on how a Mayor Yang would improve safety in Brownsville, where the bike infrastructure is not much more than a collection of sharrows, the candidate suggested that he would limit pedestrian access to some places. Though is that what he really thinks? Decide for yourself from Yang’s kind of all-over-the-place answer:

First, he dismissed the notion that road safety is a top priority.

“I would suggest this neighborhood has a host of concerns that are higher in their immediate day-to-day lives,” he started. “So the first thing is you need to put more economic resources into the hands of the folks here to be able to address their needs and stay healthy.”

Continuing, Yang then appeared to be championing pedestrian-friendly road safety designs.

“To minimize traffic fatalities would be more of an infrastructure investment on our side, so that would be lights, warnings, obstructions,” he said.

But then he seem to blame pedestrians.

“You need to find the blind spots where pedestrians are going into traffic and make it so that it’s very, very difficult for them to do so,” concluded Yang, whose foundation is called Humanity Forward.

It’s unclear how a plan that focuses on denying pedestrians access to where they “are going into traffic” would keep them safe. Pedestrian error was cited in only 52 of those 4,870 crashes, a whopping 1 percent of them.

While Yang’s opponents have already made hay out of the time he spent in New Paltz during the coronavirus pandemic and the utterly exhausting question of whether he’s a Real New Yorker, but he did spend his day swiping a MetroCard. He rode the bus to the Bronx and took public transportation from the Boogie Down to Queens and then Brooklyn.

But when it comes to the larger issue of transportation, Yang currently has vision zero — as in nothing — on his website. His plan for getting people around and for redesigning street will be available “in the coming weeks,” the campaign says.

Meanwhile, Yang’s opponents have laid out many ideas for completing Vision Zero’s quest for zero traffic deaths on city streets, such as taking the NYPD out of traffic enforcement, installing protected bike lanes in neighborhoods without any, building bike superhighways or making Vision Zero part of a larger public safety agenda.

Yang does support municipal control of the transit system, an idea pushed by former mayoral candidate, Council Speaker Corey Johnson before he dropped out of the race.

But Yang left some transportation and government heads tilted quizzically when he said he’d achieve municipal control by simply telling Gov. Cuomo that the idea was one of his big demands.



Streetsblog’s Guide to the Democratic Mayoral Candidates

The September 10 primary is just a few days away, and over the course of this grueling campaign the candidates have had plenty of time to lay out their vision for New York City’s streets. Transportation Alternatives and StreetsPAC both put together detailed candidate surveys and compiled responses from the leading Democratic candidates. For Streetsblog’s guide to the Democratic mayoral […]