A New Map Gives New Yorkers the Power to Report Traffic Hazards

Sarah Goodyear in the Atlantic/Cities: “Ask any New Yorker about unsafe conditions on the city’s streets. Go ahead, ask.
You might want to sit down. This is going to take a while.
New York City’s streets are some of the most heavily used public spaces in the nation. A lot of the time, the swirling mass of users share space remarkably well. Every second in New York, it sometimes seems, a thousand people just barely miss colliding, thanks to a finely honed sense of self-preservation and spatial awareness.
The dark side is that sometimes, they do collide. These famously chaotic and contested streets are often life-threatening. Drivers routinely drive well over the 30 mph speed limit, run red lights, and fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.  Pedestrians step out into traffic, sometimes without looking at what’s coming their way. Bicyclists ride the wrong way up one-way streets.
In recent years, the city has begun to address the problem, mainly through design solutions like better bike infrastructure, pedestrian refuges, and crosswalk countdown clocks. Still, last year, 286 New Yorkers died in traffic crashes.
Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed almost as soon as he was sworn into office in January to pursue an initiative called Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities through a combination of design, enforcement, and education.
A new tool in the Vision Zero effort was unveiled earlier this week: a map of the city on which people can log their observations and complaints about chronically unsafe conditions. The map offers a menu of icons including red-light running, double-parking, failure to yield, and speeding, and allows users to plot them on a map of the city’s streets. Sites where pedestrian fatalities have occurred since 2009 are marked, and the most dangerous streets in each borough for people on foot are colored red.

The map, a joint project of DOT, the NYPD, and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, has only been live for a couple of days. Already, it is speckled with dozens of multicolored dots indicating problem areas. (Full disclosure: The map was designed by OpenPlans, a nonprofit affiliated with Streetsblog, where I worked several years ago.)…”