In 2014, a series of traffic accidents took the lives of four pedestrians on the Lower East Side and Chinatown. Following the October death of 90-year-old Sau Ying Lee on Canal Street, City Council member Margaret Chin called on the city to reconsider whether the thoroughfare should be a designated truck route. A few months later, she introduced legislation to require the Department of Transportation to evaluate the city’s truck routes every five years. Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio signed the bill into law.
The legislation was also sponsored by Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the Council’s transportation committee, and Jimmy Van Bramer, the majority leader. In a statement, Chin said, “It’s time for our city to reexamine its transportation policies when it comes to encouraging heavy thru-traffic on streets used by pedestrians and bicyclists… In my district, we have already seen too many fatal collisions.”
Even though trucks make up less than 4% of the traffic on city streets, they account for 32% of cyclist fatalities and 12.3% of pedestrian deaths. The legislation requires the city to study the impact of tolling policies on truck routes, the number and types of injuries suffered by pedestrians and cyclists on truck routes safety policies in the most dangerous areas. The Department of Transportation has not conducted a comprehensive truck route study since 2007. The city has a year to complete the study.
The mayor yesterday said that the new law will, “help us to identify problematic corridors and implement appropriate measures to create safe commutes.”