Mayor de Blasio's "Vision Zero" initiative is an ambitious undertaking, but one that New York City seems ready for. We have already seen certain VZ provisions enacted, such as the reduction of speed limits throughout the city.
As a way to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from fatal accidents involving city-owned trucks, a new provision of VZ will soon be enacted. By the end of the year, about 240 medium-duty trucks will be fitted with side guards. These simple devices are designed to keep pedestrians and cyclists from getting caught underneath a vehicle in the event of a collision.
At $3,000 each, these side guards are no small investment. Moreover, the 240 vehicles to be fitted with side guards represent a small fraction of the city's total fleet, which reportedly includes more than 27,000 vehicles.
The New York City Council has been supportive of the side guard provision as part of the larger Vision Zero initiative. One city council member commented that "Side guards have a proven record of preventing fatalities and injuries on the road and are a worthy investment of tax-payer dollars."
Another city council member noted that a bicyclist death in January made installation of these side guards more urgent. She said: "Last month, in response to the first cyclist death of 2015, I called upon our Mayor to install side guards on the City truck fleet in order to end these preventable accidents."
It's unclear if any single provision will be highly effective at reducing accident rates and making NYC streets safer. But together, the many aspects of the city's Vision Zero initiative will hopefully create the kind of conscientious safety culture that New York desperately needs.
Source: TruckingInfo.com, "NYC Adding Truck Side Guards to Protect Pedestrians, Cyclists," Feb. 9, 2015