Bills Will Require City to Report Pedestrian, Motorist, and Bicycle Crash Data, Identify Danger Zones and Disclose Neighborhood Traffic Studies

February 16, 2011 – At today’s Stated Council meeting the members of the City Council will vote on legislation to improve the quality of reporting relating to pedestrian safety and cyclist crash data, as well as the inter-agency processes in place to continue to improve pedestrian safety. Additionally the Council will vote on legislation relating to greater transparency in the way DOT determines whether to install traffic control devices.

“Greater public disclosure of city data promotes better solutions to problems in our neighborhoods,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The Council’s actions today will go a long way in helping keeping our pedestrians, cyclists and motorists safe throughout our city.”

“Promoting safe and responsible driving – whether on four wheels or two – has been a major focus of my Committee since I became Chair over a year ago,” said Transportation Chair James Vacca. “Too often, communities seeking traffic improvements on their block do not have access to the data they need to make informed decisions. Whether requiring the City to track and publicize vehicle and bicycle crash information or explain why it rejects a stop sign or traffic signal request, today’s legislation goes to the heart of empowering communities to fight for safer streets.”

Improving pedestrian safety reporting and policy, the Council will vote on legislation to require the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to increase disclosure of pedestrian and motorist crash-data.

“If knowledge is power, this bill gives communities the power to make their neighborhoods safer,” Council Member Jessica Lappin said. “While we already know anecdotally where the dangerous corners are in our own areas, this lets us move beyond rumor and into fact. Armed with this information, we’ll be able to make real change toward making safer streets.”

Expanding upon Local Law 11 of 2008 which required DOT to develop and publish a pedestrian safety report, this bill will require DOT to conduct a comprehensive study of all traffic crashes involving a serious injury or fatality every five years. This bill would require an inspection of any location experiencing at least four serious injuries over a five year period. A ranking of the top 20 most dangerous intersections would be based on the number of pedestrians seriously injured or killed over a five year period.

This bill also requires the NYPD to electronically publish several metrics relating to crash data including the number of moving violation summonses, the number of traffic crashes, and the number of injuries and fatalities. Updated once a month, this information would be broken down by borough and police precinct and the number of crashes, fatalities and injuries would be searchable by intersection.

Improving interagency coordination, DOT would be required to develop an interagency plan for roadway safety. This plan would identify key agencies and groups that DOT would meet with monthly, proposed programs, suggestions for behavioral modification, and a plan to increase cooperation between DOT and NYPD. The plan is to be presented to the Mayor and Council ninety days after enactment.

Increasing transparency of cycling accidents occurring in New York City, this bill requires DOT to, for the first time, begin compiling the number of bicycle crashes that are reported to city agencies. DOT would also be required to submit an annual report to the Council of the total number of bicycle crashes each year, broken down by crashes between bicycles, between bicycles and motorized vehicles, and between bicycles and pedestrians as well as by borough and by police precinct. DOT would be required to begin collecting this data in October.

“Now that many of our streets have been redesigned to encourage bicycling as an alternative means of transportation,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez, the bill’s sponsor. “It is more important than ever that we have reliable statistics on incidents involving bicycles. Individuals who bicycle, just like those using other modes of transportation, must follow the rules of the road. This law will provide us with important data that previously wasn’t captured, and with it we can implement appropriate safety measures, when and if needed.”

This bill would require DOT to provide a detailed explanation whenever it rejects a request for a traffic control device such as stop sign or traffic signal submitted by a Council Member or Community Board. DOT would need to reveal the date and time of all traffic studies conducted and the time period of any crash data used, as well as a summary of the criteria that must be considered to approve a stop sign or traffic signal. Upon request, DOT would also need to provide a complete summary of the study findings and statistics used in its determination.