Crowley Announces Legislation to Lower and Help Prevent Pedestrian Fatalities in High-Risk Areas Throughout Queens

March 31, 2014
Press Release

Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act Would Require States to Focus Federal Resources Where There is an Increase in Pedestrian Fatalities or Injuries

(Queens, NY)  – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, was joined by advocacy groups at a press conference to announce the Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act of 2014, legislation requiring the state to address the increase in serious injuries and fatalities of pedestrians and cyclists.

During the announcement, Crowley underscored the urgency of improving pedestrian safety on our local roadways. While the need is felt throughout the city, recent studies have shown that Queens ranks first in fatal accidents in the region.

“The recent string in traffic related deaths in and around Queens demands our immediate attention to find solutions,” said Rep. Crowley.  “That’s why I am introducing a bill that requires states to do just that. We need to ensure the federal highway safety funds at their disposal are put toward achieving our goal of reducing pedestrian fatalities to zero. It’s time to put an end to the tragedy on our streets.”

Currently, states are required to submit a Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) to the Federal Highway Administration in order to receive federal highway safety funds. This is a comprehensive, state-wide plan for reducing accidents on public roads and is used by state departments of transportation to outline safety needs and determine investment decisions.

Surprisingly, federal law does not require SHSPs to include statistics on pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Crowley’s Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act will not only change that, but it will also require states to demonstrate how they will address any increase in these incidents at both the state and county levels.

"I commend Congress Member Crowley for writing legislation that would direct federal resources towards making dangerous intersections safer for pedestrians,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “Pedestrian safety is a vitally important issue for my district and citywide. Too many individuals including the 11-year-old boy who was hit by a truck and killed right here in Jackson Heights, have died on our streets. I have worked with the Department of Transportation to implement Neighborhood Slow Zones, Safe Routes to Schools projects and other pedestrian safety improvements. However, more can always be done and this legislation would give some much needed funding to this tragic problem.”

"We applaud Congressman Crowley for this bill,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The Congressman is already known for his leadership on safe streets -- he worked with community partners like the Jackson Heights Green Alliance to help create Diversity Plaza and the 78th Street Plaza, along with bike lanes for his district. This new legislation will provide crucial support to Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on New York City's streets.”

“We have much respect for Congressman Crowley’s steady commitment to safe streets measures in Queens,” said Make Queens Safer advocate, Cristina Furlong. “He has truly responded to our call to action by not only hosting two pedestrian safety town halls, but also introducing this important legislation which will, for the first time, allow the Strategic Highway Safety Plan to include statistics on pedestrian injuries and deaths. For too long, the people of New York City have seen repeated injuries in areas that have been proven to be dangerous and high risk. With the passing of this legislation, New York will be able to provide the resources necessary to transform our dangerous streets.”

In December 2012, an 11-year-old boy was fatally struck while crossing Northern Boulevard on his way to I.S. 145 in Jackson Heights. Tragically, Northern Boulevard and other arterial corridors throughout Queens have continued to claim lives. In October, a two-year-old boy was hit and killed while crossing Northern Boulevard near Junction Boulevard. Last December, an eight-year-old P.S. 152 student was killed while crossing Northern Boulevard at 61st Street in Woodside.

Crowley’s legislation would also update the federal handbook that local and state departments of transportation use when collecting highway safety data. The changes will specify the inclusion of elements that promote safety for pedestrians as well as cyclists. Current federal road safety policies are geared toward motorists and leave out others who, in cities like New York, make up an increasingly large portion of the people using our streets.

The Pedestrian Fatalities Reduction Act has been endorsed by a number of organizations dedicated to promoting policies that make streets safer for all users, including the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, League of American Bicyclists and New York City-based Transportation Alternatives.

In February, Crowley, along with NYS Assembly Member Francisco Moya and Make Queens Safer, held a pedestrian safety town hall in Jackson Heights to hear from local residents. Earlier this month, he held a separate town hall in Astoria with NYC Council Member Costa Constantinides, NYS Senator Michael Gianaris and NYS Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas.

Congressman Crowley is the eight-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.