Helen with Dana Lerner at the Cooper Stock Way Ceremony (June 3, 2015)
In January 2014 three pedestrians died while trying to cross the street in a two block radius of the Upper West Side. While the City does not have jurisdiction over vehicles licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles, a state agency, it does have jurisdiction over the Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC). The Council passed Helen's bill, Local Law 27 of 2014 known as Cooper's Law, which holds TLC-licensed drivers accountable for causing a critical injury or death in a crash as a result of a moving traffic violation. If anyone is now killed or critically injured by a TLC-licensed driver, and that driver receives a summons for a traffic violation, then his or her TLC license is immediately suspended. If the driver is found in court to be guilty of that traffic violation, his or her TLC license is permanently revoked. Cooper's Law was part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero package of legislation, and it commemorates 7-year-old Cooper Stock.
For years the Central Park Loop allowed cars, cyclists, and runners to be dangerously close to one another, and in the summer of 2014, two pedestrians lost their lives while trying to cross the Loop. Helen and Council Member Mark Levine introduced legislation (Int. 499-2014) that would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a study on the impact on motor vehicle traffic volume on nearby roads, pedestrian traffic flow, environmental impact, and other criteria. The study would have no effect on the park’s transverse roads, and vehicles operated by the Parks Department, Police Department, Fire Department, emergency services, and vendors authorized to operate in the park will still be able to use the loop. In June 2015 the City permanently closed the Central Park Loop north of 72nd street to vehicles, and Helen is continuing to work with the Administration to close the loop entirely to vehicles.
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 receive accessories like bike lights, reflective vests, and bells to make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Helen also introduced legislation (Int. 863-2015) that 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. These changes will increase visibility in low light conditions or when a cyclist is speeding by.