Under Operation School Safe Passage, NYPD is this week targeting enforcement of hazardous parking and moving violations near schools
“Cross This Way” classroom curriculum focuses on preventing crashes, helping keep kids safe while walking City streets
Motorists are also reminded that school speed-zone cameras will also be in full effect this month in 140 different school zones with high crash histories
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, NYPD Transportation Chief Thomas Chan today announced that as part of the Vision Zero initiative, NYPD officers will this week address a range of moving and parking violations that threaten safety near schools. The Chancellor and Commissioner Trottenberg also announced that this school year, the Department of Education (DOE) will provide all fourth, fifth and sixth-grade classes a ground-breaking curriculum, “Cross This Way,” dedicated to teaching safety to students on City streets. City officials also reminded motorists that New York City’s school-zone speed cameras in 140 school zones Citywide are operational for the new school year.
Today’s event was held outside PS 124 in the Park Slope/Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. In 2004, Juan Angel Estrada and Victor Flores, fifth-grade boys attending PS 124 were struck and killed by a truck while walking home from this school.
“We mourn every traffic fatality, and it’s even more painful when children are killed,” said DOT Commissioner Trottenberg. “In this new school year, our partners at the NYPD are doing their critical work enforcing laws that will keep kids safe. Meanwhile, we at DOT continue to use school-zone speed cameras, which have so effectively reduced dangerous speeding near schools. At the same time, our partnership with the Chancellor and the DOE will get the Vision Zero message to the audience within schools that needs to hear it. “Cross This Way” discusses safely navigating streets -- by using language and visuals that are really compelling, even fun. Our hope is that students and teachers alike enjoy the curriculum, and come away smarter and safer pedestrians.”
“Safety comes first, and increasing enforcement, having speed cameras in school zones and providing curriculum to schools ensures that we are taking the necessary steps to prevent students from being injured as they travel to and from school each day,” said Chancellor Fariña. “The Cross This Way curriculum is a critical part of the Mayor’s Vision Zero initiative and will teach students important lessons so that they can safely navigate the City’s traffic.”
“The beginning of the school year has traditionally been a time to remind motorists to be aware of children and teenagers returning to school, as both pedestrians and bicyclists,” said NYPD Transportation Chief Chan. “Our enforcement efforts will be focused around schools to enhance the collaborate work of our Vision Zero partners at the Department of Transportation and Department of Education. Both the enforcement and education approach to traffic safety has been yielding positive results since the inception of Vision Zero and we anticipate further successes this school year.”
This week, the NYPD is undertaking Operation School Safe Passage. Focused on locations near schools Citywide, officers are paying particular attention to violations by vehicles during school arrival and dismissal times – with a special focus on double parking, running red lights, disobeying traffic control devices, failure to yield, cellphone use (including texting) while driving, improper turns, obstruction of bicycle lanes, passing stopped school buses, and speeding.
Speeding is a leading cause of traffic deaths in New York City. In 2014, the state legislature authorized speed cameras in 140 different school zones Citywide. Stationary school-zone cameras can be found in 100 different locations. DOT also currently has a fleet of 40 vehicles with mobile speed cameras that vary locations at school zones Citywide.
Camera locations are all chosen for their high crash histories. By law, the cameras can only operate during specified days and hours in which school is in session, with all of them active again this month. The cameras photograph vehicles that exceed the posted speed limit by more than 10 mph, and then a notice of liability is mailed to the car’s owner with a $50 fine.
Over the two years they have been in operation, school-zone speed cameras have proven an effective deterrent to speeding. According to DOT data, daily violations have dropped by an average of almost 60 percent at speed-camera locations since installation began -- demonstrating the cameras’ effectiveness at changing dangerous behavior
The “Cross This Way” curriculum is designed for 4th through 6th grades. According to DOT statistics, over 1,000 children under 17 were involved in crashes within New York City during 2015, and nine of them were killed. Developed by DOT’s Safety Education and Outreach division with the support of the DOE, the curriculum focuses on the dangers specifically posed to elementary and middle-schoolers, about age 9 through 11, who have reached the age when they may be navigating City streets without supervision for the first time -- and highlights some of the most common scenarios in which children are injured crossing the street. Scenarios are engagingly presented in the curriculum and in an accompanying video, which features dance choreography to an original composed hip-hop song, “Respect (Check).”
The curriculum, designed to be covered entirely during one classroom period, outlines a checklist of tips for kids to protect themselves, including for situations like: walking in the crosswalk with the signal; crossing at intersections with stop signs; and getting across safely if a mid-block crossing is necessary. Through the use of a playbook that recaps these scenarios, students can assess what went wrong and are encouraged to make the right choice every time they cross.
“Vision Zero can only be achieved by embracing the three E’s: engineering, enforcement, and education” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “This collaboration between the New York City Department of Transportation, the New York City Police Department, and the Department of Education is integral to ensure the safety of our students, encouraging them to find healthy and sustainable mobility habits that will hopefully remain far beyond the 2016-2017 school year.
"As the mounting tragedies involving children being hit by cars on our streets is largely what led to NYC's Vision Zero initiative, it's hugely important that streets around schools are safe," said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. "We must secure these areas and make sure they are the safest streets in the city, as our most vulnerable New Yorkers are what's at stake. I'm glad to see these efforts moving forward, holding irresponsible and reckless drivers accountable while protecting our kids near schools."
“I'm happy to learn that DOT is working with NYPD to make sure our school children are able to get to school safely by enforcing traffic laws around schools,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. “I'd also like to commend DOE for bringing Vision Zero into the 4th-6th grade curriculum. I love the ‘Cross This Way’ video! I am not so secretly thrilled to see some young friends of mine showing other kids how they can stay safe and help reduce vehicular crashes near schools.”
“With the start of a new school year, I’m glad to see renewed attention to Vision Zero at our schools,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Heightened enforcement and traffic cameras around schools make the walk to school safer for kids and parents across NYC, and the new curriculum will help students understand the importance of safely navigating our streets, so we can avoid future instances of tragedy. Thank you to the PS-124 community for today’s event and to the NYC Department of Transportation and NYC Department of Education for collaborating on Vision Zero, taking new steps to make streets safer for students.”
"We are so happy to be part of an event that captures so many successful Vision Zero elements that help kids and adults alike around local schools like PS 124,“ said Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of the Fifth Avenue Committee and Member, City Planning Commission. “The busy north-south streets of Park Slope and Gowanus are not simply high-volume truck rotes, they are the streets where our neighbors live and our children walk. Calming that traffic and enforcing laws to deter speeding has already made a real difference in saving lives, and we are very grateful for the changes.”
"We welcome the this new Vision Zero curriculum and the NYPD's back-to-school enforcement push to target the most dangerous driving violations, which threaten our vulnerable children all year round," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "We thank Commissioner Trottenberg, the Department of Education and the NYPD for coming together to bring greater traffic safety awareness to the next generation, as all New Yorkers work toward the goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries."
“In 2007, Groundswell was privileged to partner with our neighbors in Brooklyn to give voice to the sadness and outrage around the traffic deaths of three young boys from this area, two of whom attended PS124, “ said Rob Krulak, director, Groundswell . “The resulting mural, "Not on More Death," honors their memories and declares this community's intention to eliminate crashes and increase pedestrian safety. In the nine years since this mural was dedicated, we have seen so much progress towards this goal, and we are delighted that the Vision Zero initiatives being announced today will continue this important work.”
"This traffic safety curriculum is an important step in the Vision Zero effort to protect the most vulnerable people on our streets” said Amy Cohen of Families for Safe Streets. "Stepped up traffic enforcement is also important for back-to-school, but the NYPD need to target deadly speeding and failure to yield all across the five boroughs, every day. Albany lawmakers must also move this session to lift restrictions on automated enforcement, so New York City can protect every school with lifesaving speed safety cameras, which have proven to reduce speeding in school zones where they have been installed, like the area around PS 124."
In 2016, as part of Vision Zero, DOT is implementing its most aggressive street redesign safety program, a $115 million increased investment in street redesign and traffic-calming measures citywide. DOT has also improved the safety at a record number of dangerous intersections and thoroughfares, installing more than 15 miles of protected bike lanes along key high traffic corridors like Queens Boulevard, Chrystie Street, Jay Street, and Amsterdam Avenue (more than in any previous year, and more than in 2007, 2008, and 2009 combined), and installing a record number of leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) to give pedestrians a head start while crossing the street.
For more information about the de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero initiative, please see www.nyc.gov/visionzero