New York Court Ruling: Cities Are Liable for Unsafe Streets

Traffic safety and Vision Zero advocates scored a major victory recently at the New York Court of Appeals.

January 6, 2017, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Ghost Bike

John Greenfield / Flickr

"The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, ruled that New York City and other municipalities can be held liable for failing to redesign streets with a history of traffic injuries and reckless driving," reports Brad Aaron.

The ruling dates back to a crash from 2004, when "Louis Pascarella, driving 'at least' 54 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone, struck 12-year-old Anthony Turturro as he rode a bike on Gerritsen Avenue," according to Aaron. "A civil trial jury awarded Turturro $20 million, finding the city 40 percent responsible for the crash. The city appealed, and the case made its way to the Court of Appeals, which last month rendered a 6-1 finding in favor of Turturro."

The case could add ammunition to the idea that transportation engineering and transportation agencies are responsible for unsafe road conditions. The fact that departments of transportation can be held liable when they create or allow unsafe road conditions should inspire more actions to implement traffic calming measures. In New York City, for example, Mayor de Blasio "has resisted calls from the City Council to increase funding for Vision Zero street improvements."

Thursday, January 5, 2017 in StreetsBlog NYC

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