Council Wants Answers from Adams Administration on Road Violence Epidemic
The City Council’s Transportation Committee has scheduled a long-overdue hearing to determine if Mayor Adams is honoring his pledge to “take seriously” the ongoing road violence epidemic — and it’s demanding that Adams administration officials show up to testify.
“I welcome the mayor’s commitment to ‘take seriously’ long-standing efforts to eliminate traffic violence and preventable fatalities on city streets,” Transportation Committee Chair Selvena Brooks-Powers said in a statement that pointed out that last year was the deadliest year for children on New York’s streets since Vision Zero began.
“No New Yorker should have to fear for their life while crossing or using our streets. Whether they are on foot, on a bike, in a car, or using other transit options, all New Yorkers need to be safe on our shared roads,” Brooks-Powers continued.
The Feb. 14 hearing has long been sought by advocates given several high-profile failures by the Adams administration in 2022, including missing the Council-mandated benchmarks in the Streets Plan that required the city to install 30 miles of protected bike lanes and 20 miles of dedicated or enhanced bus lanes in 2022. The final numbers were roughly 25 miles and 12 miles, respectively.
In his State of the City address one day before the Council’s announcement, Mayor Adams promised no new major street safety initiatives, but did mention a package of bills to punish reckless drivers after the fact.
Brooks-Powers made it clear that she won’t consider enforcement enough.
“Greater enforcement of road rules can help here, including increasing the use of NYPD tow trucks to clear illegally parked trucks and cars,” she said. “However, this must be paired with the equitable hard infrastructure investments needed to redesign dangerous roadways. And it must prioritize the transit deserts and outerborough neighborhoods that have too often been neglected and bear a disproportionate share of the traffic violence. … I invite the Administration to testify alongside advocates and everyday New Yorkers who want to advance our shared street safety goals.”
"Adams referred to the legislation as ROADS – 'Removing Offenders and Aggressive Drivers from our Streets' – and said that it would strengthen penalties for serious crashes and impaired driving, and even take the worst offenders off the streets. "
— Meera Joshi (@MeeraCJoshi) January 26, 2023
The news of a major Transportation Committee hearing will cheer advocates, who have criticized Brooks-Powers for holding very few hearings on key street safety bills, for declining to hold the Adams administration accountable for the epidemic of road violence, or for even following up on its own initiatives such as the Streets Plan or the Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program (though Brooks-Powers’s own poor driving record would have likely had to have come up in any analysis of that program).
Several advocates told Streetsblog earlier this month that they were disappointed that the Transportation Committee seemed to be on the sidelines for other big-ticket issues of 2022:
- It accepted billions less in funding for street safety programs than it had demanded from the Adams administration (and then didn’t engage in tracking where the $904 million is going).
- It remained silent on placard abuse and on the chaos that the placard class inflicts on city streets.
- It did not demand reform after school streets were shown to be particularly dangerous.
- It sat on the sidelines as e-mobility devices have proliferated — a change that advocates and experts regard as positive, but one that will require planning.
- It went AWOL on the Adams administration’s supposed crackdown on ghost plates that have been involved in traffic violence and other crimes.
- It never took up the issue of the NYPD’s pullback from enforcement.
Nonetheless, advocates were excited to get their chance to speak.
“This hearing is welcome news, and a long time coming,” said Sara Lind, chief strategy officer at Open Plans. “New York been turning a blind eye to dangerous parking and driving for far too long. And we’re behind — daylighting at intersections should already be commonplace. It’s the law. So it’s good to see the city is getting proactive about street safety this year. Real change will still depend on commitment and collaboration across the board – from the City, DOT, and every Council member.”
Lind’s counterpart at Elizabeth Adams, Transportation Alternatives, focused on Brooks-Powers’s apparent support for more safety infrastructure.
“New York City can achieve Vision Zero by investing in physical infrastructure that protects everyone on our streets, and the City Council must hold this administration accountable to the legal requirements of the NYC Streets Plan that will get us there,” she said.
Streetsblog reached out to City Hall for a comment and will update this story if we hear back.