Pedestrian Safety

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Helen attends the Cooper Stock Way Ceremony with Dana Lerner (June 3, 2015).

Upper West Siders should be able to walk and bike without fearing for their safety. Pedestrian injuries and deaths are unacceptable: Helen has worked to improve dangerous conditions, advocate for responsible cycling, and hold taxi drivers accountable by passing legislation like Cooper’s Law. She has worked to implement street redesigns and create safer intersections for pedestrians. And there’s always more we can do. Helen is already building on her successes from her first term. She plans to make biking safer, improve our air quality, and reduce truck traffic. Read more below!

"Helen Rosenthal has been an outspoken advocate for safer streets....She introduced and passed Cooper's Law shortly after taking office, was instrumental in getting cars out of most of Central Park, and authored the law that permits folding bikes in passenger elevators. She's clearly deserving of another term." - Eric McClure, Executive Director of StreetsPAC

Helen has taken the lead, here are some highlights (details below):

  • Helen introduced and passed Cooper’s Law, which takes reckless taxi and other TLC-licensed drivers off the road.
  • Helen worked with Community Board 7 and the Department of Transportation to immediately implement street redesigns along West End Avenue and at 96th and Broadway after 4 tragic fatalities between January and June 2014 and 1 in June 2015.
  • Helen successfully convinced the City to permanently close the Central Park Northern loop at all hours and the Southwestern loop at all hours except from 8-10 am to vehicles.
  • Helen gives out free helmets, reflective vests, and bells for cyclists.
  • Helen introduced and passed the Barnes Dance Legislation to create safer intersections for pedestrians. The DOT implemented a Barnes Dance in District 6 on Columbus at 79th Streets.
  • Helen introduced and passed folding bike legislation which allows bicyclists to bring their bicycles into the passenger elevators in office and residential buildings.

Helen’s goals for the next four years:

  • Permanently close the Central Park Southern Loop to vehicles.
  • Develop a program in which street cart vendors would pay the city to use electricity from street lamps rather than run diesel motors all day, which combined with idling reduction would make our sidewalks quieter and give pedestrians and cyclists better air to breath.
  • Make biking between the east and west sides safer, by only allowing one way traffic on the transverses. One lane would be for cars and one for bicycles.
  • Solar powered LED lights embedded in the Greenway.
  • Reduce truck traffic on Amsterdam and Columbus to eliminate double parking and improve bus times.
  • Pass new legislation to hold businesses accountable for the use of illegal electric bicycles.
  • Require DOT to improve the safety issues at 96th Street and West End Avenue.

Helen Holds Drivers Accountable

Three pedestrians died in 2014 while trying to cross the street within a two block radius of the Upper West Side. Helen sponsored Local Law 17 of 2014, known as Cooper's Law, which holds TLC-licensed drivers accountable for causing a critical injury or death in crashes that result from moving traffic violations. Cooper's Law was part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero legislation package commemorating 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who lost his life in a traffic crash.

Helen Has Made Strides in Closing the Central Park Loops to Traffic

For years, the Central Park Loops allowed cars, cyclists, horse carriages, pedicabs, and runners to be dangerously close to one another. Over the years, the City has reduced the times that cars can drive in Central Park. One of the first pieces of legislation Helen introduced was Int. 499-2014, which required the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a traffic and environmental impact study of permanently closing the Central Park Loops. Under pressure, the DOT took action on their own, closing the North Loop to traffic and limiting the hours that the South Loop are open. Given the recent closing of Prospect Park to cars, Helen is intent on entirely closing Central Park to cars.

 Helen Believes Delivery Cyclists Must Follow the Rules of the Road

Residents have expressed concern about delivery cyclists who ride on the sidewalks or ride the wrong way on a one-way street. Helen held a forum with the Department of Transportation (DOT) for restaurant and store owners to learn the rules of the road for cyclists and to receive accessories like bike lights, reflective vests, and bells to make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Helen also introduced Int. 863-2015, which would require the text on delivery cyclist vests to be reflective and at least two inches in height, so residents will be able to file a complaint against businesses whose delivery cyclists break traffic safety laws.

Helen Works for Safer Pedestrian Intersections

Working alongside the DOT, Helen and the City Council have identified intersections at which the highest number of fatal crashes take place. Helen introduced Local Law 092 of 2017, which called for a report analyzing the feasibility of implementing Barnes Dance crossing systems at these high-crash intersections - creating safer intersections for pedestrians. Barnes Dance crossing systems allow pedestrians to completely cross an intersection in any direction, including diagonally, while traffic is stopped in all directions. This would dramatically reduce the number of fatal crashes at high-risk intersections such as 79th and Columbus and 96th and WEA.

Helen Improves Access for Cyclists

Cyclists should be able to easily transport their bicycles into and out of their apartments using the elevator. Helen co-sponsored Local Law 106 of 2016, which allows foldable bikes on all passenger elevators - making tenants able to transport their bicycles.

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