If you were to ask anyone whose primary mode of transportation is walking whether they felt safe while crossing the city streets, chances are good you’d be greeted with a resounding “no,” a shake of the head or even a look of sheer incredulity.
In case you have a hard time accepting that things are really that dangerous for pedestrians here in New York City, consider that over the course of the last several weeks at least seven pedestrians have lost their lives in accidents caused by reckless or otherwise inattentive motorists.
While this is clearly not in keeping with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program, it is worth noting that he recently signed a bill into law that could prove to be a game-changer when it comes to enhancing pedestrian safety.
What exactly did this bill do?
The bill, passed by the City Council last month, changes the traffic law such that pedestrians will have the right of way not just through the solid white “Walk” light, but also during the flashing red countdown clocks and “Don’t Walk” signs.
In other words, the only time pedestrians don’t have the right of way is the solid red hand or “Don’t walk.”
What does the law currently dictate?
At the moment, pedestrians in New York City do not have the right of way when crossing the street on a flashing red light — despite the fact that so many people already do this.
How will this new law be a game-changer?
In addition to keeping pedestrians safer, it will also serve to hold drivers more accountable — in both civil and criminal court — for reckless driving practices that result in pedestrians being seriously injured or killed.
When does the new law take effect?
It’s important to understand that the new crosswalk law takes effect 90 days after being signed by Mayor de Blasio and that it was signed in late September. In other words, the current law will remain in effect for the next few months.
In the meantime, if you’ve been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a pedestrian accident caused by a reckless driver, please remember that you have rights and you have options for seeking justice.