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New York Post


Most Important Issue In Mayor's Race Is Keeping Our Streets Safe

September 07, 2013

By Nicole Gelinas

The Republican who emerges from Tuesday’s mayoral primary will have a tough fall fight. He shouldn’t give up any votes to the Democrat on an issue that should be a natural GOP advantage: keeping New Yorkers safe.

Republican contenders Joe Lhota and John Catsimatidis have already got one part of public safety down: protecting us from gun murderers.

But they’re waffly or silent (or wrong) on the other part: New Yorkers’ right to walk, bike and drive around without dying violently in a crash.

Mayor Bloomberg has cut the body count from crashes by 30%, from 393 in 2001 to 274 last year. He’s cut pedestrian deaths by 23%, from 193 to 148.

Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has redesigned streets to slow speeding traffic — the city’s biggest killer in a crash.

In Washington Heights, bus lanes and turning lanes reduced crashes with pedestrian injuries by 56%. In Union Square in 2011, pedestrian islands and bike lanes reduced all injuries by 26%, partly by slowing speeders.

Yes, more bicyclists are good for walkers. Bicyclists force drivers to pay attention.

(If you’re worried about being killed by a bike, you should be petrified about being killed by a tree, a crane or an elevator, all of which have killed more people than the one soul killed by a bicyclist in half a decade.) The city’s 20 new speed cameras, recently approved by Albany, will help. And bus lanes help people get around quicker — and slow speeding cars.

The Republican candidate for mayor should say he’ll do what Bloomberg has done, only better.

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson says that he his biggest worry about the mayoral candidates — Democrats and Republicans — isn’t that they will “roll the changes back,” but that “we’ll fall back” in doing more.

“What I worry about,” he says, “is it doesn’t strike me that you have somebody who feels this in their kishkes.”

Backbone is important, too. “When you get down to brass when you install a bike lane or a bike kiosk, you are changing the status quo in front of somebody’s house,” he notes.

Sticking up for safe streets, though, is politically wise.

People don’t want to spend their lives stuck in traffic. It’s an impossible task to move more and more people around via automobile in a city that’s growing denser. This is physics, not ideology. After Tuesday is a good time for the Republican mayoral wannabe to acknowledge this reality.

Original Source:



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