Vision Zero—In the Trenches of New York City: NMA Weekly Newsletter #503

From New York City NMA Member Joshua Hotto

Vision Zero is a huge nightmare for everyone that lives or works in NYC. Since the introduction here of Vision Zero, commute times have more than doubled. The city has introduced road diets, has converted streets for bike and bus only lanes and has gotten rid of left turn lanes. These changes have made NYC streets nearly impassableRoad rage has now become more common due to frustration, crowded roads and less space to drive.

Under the Vision Zero regime, driving to work during morning rush hour takes hours instead of minutes. NYC has become anti-car and really anti-transit too since there seems to be little money available to fix the decrepit subway system. The use of congestion pricing to help pay for the subway won’t help either. Is it fair to make motorists pay for public transportation when we might not even use it?

Not only will we not be able to drive due to the extra cost, we won’t be able to use the subway reliably either. It really is all just too much.

In 2014, NYC’s default speed limit was lowered to 25 mph, setting up a speed trap city-wide and making it much easier for police to write speeding tickets. Policing for profit is the norm here and makes everyone more fearful and distrustful of the police.

Enforcement is overkill and police personnel seem to get away with anything they want to do such as running red lights, driving into oncoming traffic, bus lanes and abusing the use of city employee parking placards, a scandal that has gone all the way to the mayor’s office. Speaking of Mayor Bill De Blasio’s’—in July, his motorcade was seen driving into oncoming traffic and blowing through traffic lights. What a fine role model he is.

In 2017, in the name of fighting terrorism, Governor Cuomo deployed close to 200 state police troopers to NYC from upstate New York. Not only has this move strained police protection in rural areas of the state, it has also caused a second speed trap situation on NYC highways and interstates which are set at 50 mph maximum while the 85th percentile speed is around 65 mph. This opens up easy pickings for state police to write speeding tickets to serve greedy NY State.

For example, in the first four months of deployment, the super troopers doled out 14,542 tickets—a whopping 759 percent increase from all of 2016 when they wrote only 1,692. That’s right ─ tickets are so profitable in NYC that the state of New York wanted some of that ticket action. This has never been seen before and locals are calling it for what it is ─ a feud between Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio.

As a diehard New Yorker, I am tired of motorists being the ATM piggy bank for New York City and the state of New York. It’s time for the NYC DOT to post speed limits based on the 85th percentile of traffic flow. NYC needs to stop being a speed trap and a policing-for-profit center just so that the police department, city hall and state government can balance their budgets on the backs of hardworking New Yorkers.

Road diets are one thing but another side product of Vision Zero is that it has produced  a generation of distracted and entitled pedestrians who expect motorists to yield to them as soon as they step foot into the street even when crossing against the light or outside of legal crosswalks. I have witnessed so many close calls where pedestrians with intent moved in front of a moving vehicle because they know whatever happens, the motorist will always be at fault. The same holds true for bicyclists who seem to think that the rules of the road do not apply to them.

From my point of view, Vision Zero’s lofty goal of preventing all traffic deaths really means preventing law-abiding citizens from using their own vehicles to move around the city. The ultimate aim of Vision Zero advocates are to get rid of private motor vehicles entirely. Plans are already in the works for city parking spaces for private cars to be turned into pedestrian plazas. Single family houses will likely be knocked down and replaced with tall apartment buildings to create more urban density and a reason to not have a car. Eventually, the only way someone can move around in the city that never sleeps will be by walking, biking or taking public transportation.

As it seems now, public transportation might even be on the way out because it is so expensive to build and maintain. We will all be forced to buy a ride service subscription just to get around.

In my opinion, here on the front line, Vision Zero is a platform that prevents people from traveling around freely under the guise of a safety movement.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author.

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