FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 24, 2014

CONTACT: Jordan Levine (CM Levine) 917-842-5748 / [email protected]

NEW YORK -- Today, the New York City Council passed Intro 216, which triples the number of Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) installations around the city to 75 per year beginning in 2015. In 2012, the Council took the first step to address this critical safety issue by passing Local Law 21, which required DOT to install 25 APS devices per year in the areas deemed to be of the highest risk and with the greatest crossing difficulties.

Currently, only 96 of New York’s 12,460 intersections currently have an APS installed, leaving visually impaired New Yorkers to fend for themselves when crossing 99% of intersections. It is estimated that there are over 360,000 people with vision difficulties in the five boroughs.

This bill marks an important step in the City’s Vision Zero efforts to reduce pedestrian fatalities. The Pedestrians for Accessible and Safe Streets Coalition (PASS) has been working for years to push for the implementation of APS and more recently to increase the pace at which they are installed. Last month, PASS held a simulation for Council Members, as part of their “Zero Vision for Vision Zero” campaign, in which they were blindfolded and crossed streets near City Hall with the help of a mobility instructor.

The legislation that was passed today represents the result of negotiations between advocates, the Council, and DOT, to develop a bill that all parties are comfortable with. In passing this bill, the administration is committing $1.75 million per year for the additional installations. It will allow DOT to install more APS signals on their list of the most critical intersections in need of them, as determined by a previously established set of criteria. 

‪"This bill is a huge win for the 380,000 New Yorkers with visual impairments and for Vision Zero. Accessible Pedestrian Signals will not only give these individuals the confidence to cross the street safely, they will also save lives. Now DOT will be able to install APS devices in the intersections that need them most three times as quickly," said Council Member Mark Levine. "There are so many individuals who played a huge role in advocating for increasing the number of installations, but I would especially like to recognize the PASS Coalition for their years of advocacy, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for originating this legislation."

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said: “Thank you to Chair Rodriguez and the Transportation Committee members for passing Intro 216, a bill I introduced with City Council Member Levine, which expands the City's Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) program, helping more blind and limited-vision New Yorkers cross our streets safely, and that's a good thing. Under the current law that I sponsored while in the Council, the Department of Transportation is required to install 25 APS signals at intersection each year. Intro 216 will expedite the pace at which these important safety features are implemented by increasing this annual requirement to 75 signals, and that’s a good thing. I look forward to the bill’s passage by the full Council and continuing to work with the wonderful coalition of advocates within the accessibility community who ensure that Vision Zero is inclusive of all New Yorkers. ”

"By installing more APS signals in New York we can make sure that the visually impaired among us have an easier time navigating our roadways. I commend Councilmember Levine and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for their work in making sure that the City commits itself to aiding the visually impaired." said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. 

"PASS is very glad to see that this bill will triple the number of intersections equipped with Accessible Pedestrian Signals. We hope and believe that this is a critical step in the development of a long term partnership between The Department of Transportation, the City Council and PASS, to ensure that the intersections with the greatest crossing difficulty are at the top of the newest APS installations next year. These signals are important not only for those of us with vision loss, but for people who use wheelchairs and also for the general public, said Karen Gourgey, PASS Coalition Steering Committee member and Spokesperson. "With so much visual clutter at intersections and so much activity on the streets, the addition of an audio cue would be extremely helpful not only to the visually impaired but all pedestrians, including senior citizens. The level of confusion on corners is high and one often sees individuals standing at a curb completely at a loss of where to go next. An auditory cue will be enormously helpful.”


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