Zero For Vision Zero

I admit that I think that Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan has merit and is noble in intent. Eliminating cyclist and pedestrian fatalities make sense. Reducing the carbon footprint and traffic congestion in New York City, as well as increasing a healthier lifestyle through bike riding, is praiseworthy. However, the execution of the plan has left much to be desired for those who live and work where parts of the plan have been implemented. I live and work in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, the latest site of battles between long-time community stakeholders and DOT, which bears responsibility for the implementation of Vision Zero. The de Blasio administration cannot legislate lifestyle. This is a far cry from banning smoking indoors, except in smoking designated areas, such as smoking rooms at the airport. The healthcare and quality of life cost were clear. Vision Zero is insensitive to seniors and others who depend upon Access-A-Ride and private modes of transportation to perform vital tasks such as doctor’s appointments, pharmacy pickups, and grocery store runs. Rather than engaging in moral persuasion, the de Blasio administration has introduced sneaky and strong-armed tactics. No one informed the residents along Lafayette Avenue of the recent traffic design changes with buffered bike lanes. They simply appeared and we had to adjust. Whatever outreach made by DOT, it was very limited in scope and highly selective. As the pastor of one of the oldest and largest institutions in Clinton Hill, Emmanuel Baptist Church, I never received notice of a public meeting nor an invitation to attend a public meeting about the then proposed bike lanes. This, I contend, is indicative of an unwise, counter-productive, and undemocratic approach to things. “It seems that this is a one-sided plan that is being forced on our community whether we like it or not,” commented Suzanne DeBrango, the President of the Washington Ave. Block Association. She continued,“The total disregard for the needs of the community and utter lack of community involvement in the plan doesn’t sit well with those of us that live and work here. There is a disconnect with the safety of pedestrians, especially elderly members of the community who are terrified to cross the street because cyclists blatantly disregard traffic rules and regulations.” DOT and the de Blasio Administration can do better than that. They must do better than that. The citizens of NYC in general and Clinton Hill in particular, deserve better. While there may be others who do not wish to go on record, at least one member of Community Board 2, Ernest Augustus, agrees with the negative assessment of the manner in which DOT and the de Blasio Administration have gone about presenting and implementing the Vision Zero in Clinton Hill. “What the de Blasio administration fails to understand is the growing sense of alienation, which communities are feeling toward the administration because of … lack of transparency, community inclusion in decisions ….,” he said. Augustus added, “Communities care about making a difference to improve people’s lives, they are not just another political special interest group.” Therefore, I give the de Blasio administration an “A” for intent, but an “F” for their lack of transparency and community engagement in decisions that impact long-time community stakeholders. Anthony L. Trufant, 27 year resident of Clinton Hill and Senior Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church

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