After a fatal truck crash on the Upper East Side on Christmas Eve, New York City’s soon-to-be Transportation Commissioner said he would take immediate steps to increase pedestrian and cyclist safety as soon as he takes office. The incoming Commissioner, Ydanis Rodriguez, described traffic violence in New York as a “pandemic of crashes,” according to Streetsblog.
The collision took place on Friday morning at E. 61st Street and Third Avenue, according to the New York Daily News. The truck driver was driving west when it hit both a pedestrian and a cyclist, then jumped the curb and struck a fire hydrant. The driver reportedly informed police officers at the scene that “his gas pedal got stuck as he turned to head north on Third Ave,” driving through a crosswalk and hitting the pedestrian and the cyclist.
While the driver was arrested, he had not yet been charged as of the time of the Daily News’s report. The deadly incident marked the latest in a tragic year for New Yorkers, with “at least 265 people, including 14 delivery workers… killed on city streets so far this year.” The truck in question has reportedly 270 parking violations in the last two years.
In a statement about the crash, incoming DOT Commissioner Rodriguez said in part: “We need to improve the safety of our intersections. Across the City over half of all crashes happen at intersections. I will be working closely with Mayor-elect Adams to ensure we are investing federal infrastructure funds to improve and redesign our city’s most dangerous intersections.”
Citing his experience as Chairman of the New York City Council’s Transportation Committee, Rodriguez noted his work with “countless stakeholders” to improve street safety in New York. He promised further: “My priority on Day One as DOT Commissioner will be to increase pedestrian and cyclist safety by increasing the number of protected bike lanes, dedicated bus lanes, redesigning intersections, and increasing automated enforcement technology, among much more. I am committed to replacing 50 percent of all plastic-protected bike lanes with sturdier and more permanent structures.”
A spokesperson for public transit advocacy group TransCenter praised Rodriguez’s response, telling Streetsblog in a statement: “If the the Adams administration is going to get serious about reducing traffic violence, this is the type of message Ydanis has to deliver consistently and follow through on. He’s setting himself up well to make ambitious changes.”