BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
The city’s top transportation official touted ongoing traffic initiatives during the 27th Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) yearly meeting on Tuesday night in Ridgewood.
As the event’s keynote speaker, NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg spoke in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative and touted the success of the program. Trottenberg has referred to the Vision Zero initiative as one of the “signature priorities” of both the de Blasio administration and the DOT.
“We look forward to this partnership on safety projects, causes and all of the other things that will help make this neighborhood really thrive and be prosperous,” Trottenberg said.
The action plans are meant to target problematic intersections with high crash and fatality rates. The DOT hopes to reduce incidents of injury or death through a combination of education, enforcement and engineering improvements, including curbside neckdowns and designated bicycle lanes.
Capt. Mark Wachter, the 104th Precinct’s commanding officer, shared in Trottenberg’s optimism. “Vision Zero is working,” he said. “Fatalities are down, and that’s the biggest thing.”
Wachter employs a similar approach to the DOT’s action plans in his combination of community education and enforcement. This dual pronged effort focuses on preventing unsafe behavior through education while curbing ongoing hazardous behavior through hefty fines and enforcement.
According to Wachter, the 104th Precinct saw three fewer fatalities this year versus the previous year. For the captain, the success of Vision Zero is a joint effort shared among motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
“Everybody’s got to look out. It’s everybody’s job,” Wachter explained. He cautioned motorists and pedestrians alike to use be alert at intersections and dangerous turns, and warned pedestrians to avoid using cellphones while walking.
DOT Senior Project Manager Alexander Keating noted that the Community Board 5 area, which includes Ridgewood, is participating in the federally funded “Go Smart NYC” pilot program designed to reduce congestion and pollution while increasing foot traffic to local businesses and communities. Go Smart NYC aims to increase education regarding travel options and alternatives to driving, such as walking, biking, carpooling and mass transit.
As an added incentive, program participants sign in and log their trips on the Go Smart website in exchange for special discounts at local merchants and retailers. For example, local restaurants such as Ltauha and Ridgewood Eats are offering participants 10 percent off their dine-in orders through December 2015. Rudy’s Bakery, the Onderdonk House and Cook’s Crafts in Glendale are offering discounts for various goods and services.
Thus far, 289 Board 5 residents have signed up for the Go Smart NYC program, according to Keating. Out of the 229 total trips logged, 101 were on foot, translating into 15,000 total calories burned and a communal savings of $455.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Antonio Reynoso advocated for bike lanes and greater bike access throughout the district.
“Vehicles have a convenient way to get across in a way that bikes don’t,” he explained. “People are breaking the law to compensate for that, which is not acceptable, but as a city we need to make sure that we can put the infrastructure in place that would allow for them to move freely as well.”