This morning, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and New York City Council Transportation Committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez unveiled a multilingual expansion of the “Your Choices Matter” campaign, part of the Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic deaths. The announcement took place in Washington Heights in Manhattan, across the street from a new billboard which reads, “Los choques de vehiculos no son accidentes. Sus decisiones importan.” (Traffic crashes are not accidents. Your choices matter.) The City is spending $2.5 million on the campaign which will include, in addition to billboards, ads on buses, TV, radio and on the web in Spanish and Chinese.
There’s no doubt that awareness is an important element of any traffic safety campaign. But education alone won’t tame reckless driving. It’s not that the City shouldn’t invest in reminding drivers that they’re capable of irreparable damage; it’s just that the long-term shift in New York City’s driving culture will ultimately be shaped by capital investments made on our streets, and the policies that support these investments.
Consider this: the “Your Choices Matter” campaign website notes that 78 percent of pedestrian crashes take place at intersections, but legislation introduced by Chairman Rodriguez which would “require DOT to daylight the five most dangerous intersections in each borough annually, as determined by the number of fatalities and injuries” hasn’t made any progress since it was introduced last September.
We applaud the City Council and the DOT for broadening Vision Zero outreach, but we can’t help but wonder how many intersections could be daylighted for $2.5 million. Yes, your choices matter, but so do the City’s.