The deadly attack in Times Square yesterday, which took the life of an 18-year old young woman and injured over 20 more, exposed a glaring safety gap in the heart of New York City. Today, Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez was joined NYS Senator Brad Hoylman and Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White to propose enhancements to pedestrian safety in Times Square and other areas with high numbers of pedestrians.
Council Member Rodriguez announced that he is working on introducing legislation in the near future to require metal bollards along heavily trafficked sidewalks. These bollards are apparently what stopped the car driven by Mr. Rojas in Times Square, likely saving countless lives. New metal bollards would aim to protect soft spots in our city where a reckless, drunk or terrorist driver could take many lives today.
Council Member Rodriguez discussed the possibility of placing such bollards at other locations including in front of schools and along the most dangerous corridors in the city, where crashes occur with the greatest frequency.
“Be it a terrorist, a reckless or drunk driver or even someone who loses control at the wrong moment, many of our sidewalks remain terribly vulnerable to the type of tragedy we witnessed in Times Square yesterday,” said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “While we have taken great strides toward a more walkable city, the truth remains that even on sidewalks, pedestrians are vulnerable to being killed by a vehicle. To save more lives on our streets, we need to enhance safety measures that have already proven successful, such as the metal bollards that likely saved lives yesterday. I agree with Paul White of Trans Alt that this was no accident and to call it such removes the necessary accountability we must face as a city. We can and should do more to keep our residents and visitors safe on our streets and street design is the first place to start.”
“The continuing carnage on our streets, too often accepted as inevitable in a dense urban environment, shows how desperate the need is for protected, car-free space for pedestrians in NYC,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Had it not been for the newly-installed bollards on the edge of a pedestrian plaza, which stopped Richard Rojas’ car, yesterday’s tragedy could have been even worse. More of these interventions to protect vulnerable street users are needed all across the city, along with a radical re-thinking of how we allocate public space.”
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Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and Trans Alt’s Paul White also called for the consideration of a Car-Free Times Square in the future, as so much has already been done to turn this treasured space into a pedestrian oasis in the heart of Manhattan. On April 22nd, 2017, this space was included as part of Car Free Day and was fully pedestrianized along Broadway to the delight of thousands. As the city works to create more open space, this area remains one that stands to benefit most.
Photo credit: Will Alatriste, NYC Council