you can sue your city for unsafe streets

According to Streetsblog NYC:

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…

“This decision is a game-changer,” says Steve Vaccaro, an attorney who represents traffic crash victims. “The court held that departments of transportation can be held liable for harm caused by speeding drivers, where the DOT fails to install traffic-calming measures even though it is aware of dangerous speeding, unless the DOT has specifically undertaken a study and determined that traffic calming is not required…”

Vaccaro said the decision “will create an affirmative obligation on the DOT’s part to — at the very least — conduct studies to determine whether infrastructure can reduce traffic violence, and unless such studies indicate otherwise, to install the infrastructure.”

Lawsuits are not the ideal way to do urban planning or protect public safety. They are a last resort. But I support them as one tool in the toolbox when engineers, planners, and public officials are ignoring their ethical obligation to protect the public when they know (or, if they don’t know, are ignorant of knowledge they are ethically obligated to acquire to be a competent professional in their chosen field) there are better, proven alternatives out there.

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