People who ride bicycles in New York City, sometimes along the same routes every day, are often on the front lines of observing  dangerous or unlawful conditions in the streets. While issuing expletives might be the first impulse, whipping out a smartphone or opening a laptop are better options, thanks to a new crowd-sourced mapping tool.

As part of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries from traffic crashes, the NYC Department of Transportation has launched an interactive Vision Zero Community Safety Map on which unsafe conditions can be flagged immediately.

Crashes Are Not ‘Accidents’

According to the DOT, 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and 250 are killed by traffic crashes annually. Traffic crashes are the main cause of injury-related deaths among children under 14 and the second-leading cause for seniors. Data gathered through this tool will help create a traffic safety plan for each of the boroughs.

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From the Vision Zero Action Plan:

“The City of New York must no longer regard traffic crashes as mere “accidents,” but rather as preventable incidents that can be systematically addressed. No level of fatality on city streets is inevitable or acceptable. This Vision Zero Action Plan is the City’s foundation for ending traffic deaths and injuries on our streets.”

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Using the Map is Easy

Those who participated in the DOT’s request for community input into the location of  Citi Bike stations last year will recognize this as a similar map by the same creator. To report an issue, or to view and comment on safety concerns that have already been logged in your neighborhood, click here. You’ll find multicolored dots posted on a New York City map grid. The grid shows 1) pedestrian crash corridors for each of the boroughs, 2) places where pedestrian fatalities occurred between 2009 and 2014, and 3) major arterial roads

Zoom in to the desired area until the “Share an Issue” button becomes visible and click that.  A blue marker will appear on the map and a dialog box will open. Drag the map grid beneath the fixed marker to quickly pinpoint the location of the problem you observed. Use the form to choose one of 10 color-coded categories of unsafe conditions (“Cyclist behavior” is included, by the way), then log details of your observation. You don’t have to create an account, and name and email are not required fields.

Vision Zero Street Safety Map report screen

For example, I used the map to report an intersection in my neighborhood at which drivers routinely hook left turns off the avenue at high speed in their haste to reach a west-to-east conduit. Pedestrians crossing with the light in their favor, including seniors and moms pushing strollers, are often sent scurrying. My “Failure to yield to pedestrians” report showed up instantly.

Thanks to new tools like this one, we can all do our parts – right away, and for the record — to help make New York City the streets safer for everybody.

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