Mayor Bill de Blasio, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and NYPD officials today launched the City’s fourth annual Dusk and Darkness campaign with a citywide “Day of Awareness” to draw attention to the increased risks to pedestrians and cyclists during the fall and winter. The campaign is part of the Vision Zero initiative.
“Fall and winter continue to be the most dangerous times of year for pedestrians and cyclists, but darker days don’t have to be darker times on our streets,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “For the past few years, we’ve seen that the Dusk and Darkness campaign works, and bringing back a proven, effective tool will help us step up our Vison Zero initiative and ensure that New York City streets become even safer.”
“As a cycling commuter, I can attest there is no better time of year to travel by bike than in the fall,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “However, after clocks fall back, the evening hours become especially dangerous for both pedestrians and cyclists. People on bikes should of course prepare for the seasonal changes in their evening commute, but this year’s Dusk and Darkness campaign is expanding our messaging to remind drivers about both pedestrians and cyclists – who are also on our roads year-round.”
“Judicious enforcement of traffic laws and regulations always serves as a major and necessary component of any traffic safety campaign,” said Thomas Chan, the NYPD’s Chief of Transportation. “During the Dusk and Darkness initiative, the NYPD will be stepping up its efforts to protect pedestrians and cyclists by taking appropriate action against those violations by motorists that are most likely to result in collisions, such as failure to yield.”
After daylight saving time ends—as it will at 2 a.m. this coming Sunday—crashes involving pedestrians historically have dramatically increased, especially during evening hours. Cyclists are also at increased risk during evening and nighttime hours.
Part of the Vision Zero initiative, the “Dusk and Darkness” campaign launched today at a press conference with DOT officials includes the following elements:
· “Day of Awareness”: NYPD and DOT street teams will today be educating and engaging drivers and other New Yorkers at different Vision Zero priority areas from 3:30-6:30 p.m. in all five boroughs, including: The Whitehall Ferry Terminal, Penn Station, Grand Central Station, and Canal Street & 6th Avenue in Manhattan; Barclays Center, Bushwick Avenue & Flushing Avenue, and Bay Parkway & 86th Street in Brooklyn; Parsons Blvd & Archer Avenue, and Northern Blvd & Broadway in Queens; W 225th Street and Broadway in the Bronx.
· Increased Evening/Nighttime Enforcement: As it has the last three years, NYPD will this week begin focusing enforcement resources on the most hazardous violations (speeding and failure-to-yield to pedestrians), with precincts increasing their on-street presence around sunset hours when data show serious pedestrian crashes increase. NYPD will also focus resources on drunk-driving efforts, as the incidence of DWI have historically increased during evening and nighttime hours in the fall and winter.
· Daylight Saving Awareness: DOT statistics from 2010-2014 show that serious collisions increase by approximately 40 percent in darker early evenings. This year, Daylight Savings Time will end at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 3, when clocks “fall back.” As with previous years, DOT will run radio ads during the evening commute, alerting drivers to the dangers of lower visibility and encouraging them to follow the 25 MPH citywide speed limit and to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. Ads are running through December 15 on fourteen stations.
Dusk and Darkness 4.0
At today’s event, officials cited the encouraging fatality statistics from Dusk and Darkness campaigns over the previous two years. In the five years before the campaign began, New York City averaged 63.4 traffic fatalities in the period between November 1 and March 15—many of them in the evening hours. In the first year of Dusk and Darkness, the overall fatality number declined from 67 to 51; in the second year, fatalities declined further to 44.
However, during the past year, pedestrian fatalities during the same period rose to 59. Over 20% of this year’s cyclist fatalities have occurred after sundown.
“Bicycling and walking are healthy and sustainable ways to get around our city,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “With fewer hours of daylight in the fall and winter months, drivers need to slow down and be aware of fellow New Yorkers who are also using the road. The Health Department is committed to reducing traffic fatalities and injuries in New York City, working together with sister agencies to advance road safety for all.”
“As evenings get darker earlier, the Dusk and Darkness campaign offers an important reminder to drivers to be extra cautious when sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians,” said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “This campaign and the City’s broader focus on outreach and enforcement efforts will help keep New Yorkers safe during the fall and winter months.”
“We remind our 130,000+ licensed drivers that safety is and must always be at the heart of what they do, especially now as we approach the end of Daylight Saving Time and the added risks to cyclists and pedestrians that it brings,” said Acting TLC Commissioner Bill Heinzen. “Having just honored a record high number of drivers with a place on the TLC’s Vision Zero Safety Honor Roll, we are again inspired by the commitment they and their fellow drivers have made to sharing our roads safely.”