9/12/2014Federal Government Pours $25 Million Into New York Anti-Driving Campaign
Obama administration endorses the Vision Zero initiative of New York City which lowers speed limits and installs speed cameras.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's controversial "Vision Zero" program of deploying speed cameras, reducing speed limits and massively ramping up the issuance of traffic tickets has received the blessing of the Obama administration. On Tuesday, the US Department of Transportation announced $25 million in federal gas tax funds would be given New York City Department of Transportation in support of the mayor's initiative.
Last week de Blasio announced a major expansion of school zone speed cameras under Vision Zero. Additional privately owned and operated cameras will be deployed until the limit set by the state legislature of 140 photo radar units is reached. Additional revenue will come from expanding red light camera deployment to 150 high-volume intersections, all timed at the bare minimum 3.0 second yellow time allowed under federal law.
"We're installing speed cameras in school zones citywide," de Blasio said at a news conference last week. "The last thing you want to worry about is a car speeding by and potentially endangering the lives of children. That's why this is such an important part of our Vision Zero initiative."
So far this year, just twenty cameras have issued 183,000 tickets generating $9.2 million in revenue. At that rate, the full deployment of cameras would bring in $80 million in annual profit.
In addition to the cameras, Vision Zero legislation lowered the city's default speed limit to 25 MPH. The city Department of Transportation created twenty-five "slow zones" and install 250 speed bumps. Traffic signals will be retimed to force drivers to hit more red lights. The new federal cash will covers thirteen specific projects including "traffic calming" items like speed bumps and the building of bicycle paths. The idea is to encourage residents to give up their cars and take other forms of transportation.
"This grant will go a long way in making the city's Vision Zero initiative a reality and I thank Secretary Foxx for recognizing the need to invest in this critical effort," US Representative Joseph Crowley (D-New York) said in a statement.
New York is just the start. US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx this week announced an eighteen-month campaign creating a "road diet" through which space for automobile lanes will be removed from roads around the nation so that they can be "redesigned to add space for bicycle riders and pedestrians."