The city that wants to pay pedestrians for reporting cars

For pedestrians, cyclists and users of VMP (Personal Mobility Vehicles) there are scenes that have become normal, despite being out of legality. A good example of this is finding a vehicle (with two or four wheels) stopped or parked on the roads created specifically for them. And it’s not just a violation, it’s also a nuisance and a safety hazard. There is a city that believes it has found the solution to this problem: pay its citizens to report badly parked cars.

The idea, according to Bloomberg, is a proposal by one of the New York City Council members, Lincoln Restler, who is promoting a bill that would give civilians the power to report vehicles that stop and park in bike lanes, those that are blocked by entrances or exits of school buildings and those who do the same on sidewalks or crosswalks. New Yorkers who report this violation and present evidence to do so, they can take 25% of the proposed penalty of $175, or $43.75.

This law would not arrive alone: ​​it would do so hand in hand with another regulation that promises check the parking permits that allow parking in the city. According to the promoters of the regulation, there are many who have abused these authorizations to park their personal vehicles in bicycle lanes, sidewalks and other prohibited places. They hope to have enough support to pass the bill into law: a similar idea already failed the last time something similar was tried.

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The New York Complaint Program

If passed, it will be the first time this complaint program has been extended to personal cars. Until now, the only action related to the motor world consisted of report the commercial vehicles that were inactive for the same reward: 25% of the amount. This system came into force four years ago, in 2018, and participation has been growing over time: in 2021, complaints (a total of 12,267) grew by 35% compared to 2019. 92% of those complaints were turned into fines: the public coffers of New York collected 2.3 million dollars and the citizens who formulated them shared 724,293 dollars.

few fines

Lincoln Restler said his bill is necessary because the penalties from the New York Police Department (which has traditionally been responsible for enforcing these traffic rules) aren’t enough: According to the city council, the number of fines remains nearly 50% below pre-pandemic levels. As a cyclist, he assures that he suffers the consequences every day, but emphasizes that “It’s even more problematic for the parent with a stroller or a person in a wheelchair. and he cannot pass on the sidewalk because there is a vehicle that has been parked illegally”.

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The proposal is the latest attempt New York is trying to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, while encouraging residents to leave their cars at home and seek alternative forms of transportation. Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities they dropped slightly in 2022 from New York, but the numbers have remained at about 20-115 per year. And up to 17 people who were riding electric vehicles (motorcycles and scooters), three times as many as in 2021, lost their lives.

Doubts about it

The Transportation Department, which has already opposed an earlier version of the parking enforcement law, said they are studying the legislation. An NYPD spokesman, in a statement, expressed his concern that, from his point of view, the proposal could generate conflicts between drivers and citizens: He also added that in New York attacks on Traffic Agents are frequent.

Three years ago, in 2019, Washington proposed empowering a group of residents from each of the city’s eight boroughs to carry out certain traffic control activities: they ended up eliminating this point when they approved the road safety package. In Austin, Texas, they are also considering a similar rule, but it only targets those who park in the bike lanes; the system (a 25% reward) would be the same.

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It’s the solution?

Structural changes such as street redesign, protected bike lanes, higher sidewalks, and even traffic signal reform may end this uncivil behavior by some drivers. At the same time, some argue that fines (whoever they come from) is the shortest way to reach the goal of a safer city for all the actors on the road. And you, what do you think?

About Alicia Peters

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