- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday a $50 million commitment to roll out new protective measures, including the installation of 1,500 security bollards in high-profile sites.
- The permanent bollards will replace temporary concrete structures that were installed in 2017 in the wake of pedestrian attacks. Installation of the bollards — described as "more aesthetically pleasing" than the concrete blocks — will begin in March.
- In addition to increasing pedestrian safety, the bollards are also intended to "delineate restricted areas and help streamline vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic in these areas," according to Police Commissioner James O'Neill.
New York City and the De Blasio administration faced fatal "vehicles as weapons" scenarios on two occasions in 2017, sparking fear among residents, officials and tourists. On May 18, one person was killed and 20 injured when a car intentionally crashed into a pedestrian pathway in Times Square — though officials said they do not believe it was an act of terrorism. On Oct. 31, a pick-up truck sped down a bike path in Manhattan, killing eight people in what officials called the deadliest terrorist attack on the city since 9/11.
While using a vehicle as a weapon is not new — there have been a number of vehicle-based attacks in cities around the world over the past decade — it became a concerning trend in 2017. Eight people died when a van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge in June. One woman died when a man drove into a crowd of protestors in Charlottesville, VA in August. Fourteen people died when a van drove through a crowd in Barcelona in August. The list continues, yet the threat still remains.
In a tweet, Mayor De Blasio touted New York as the "safest big city in America." While some may argue this superlative, New York's decision to install the new bollards will certainly strengthen its rank as a safe city, and will likely prompt other cities to follow suit. New York is one of 10 "focus cities" in the Vision Zero Network, and it is expected that other Vision Zero locations — including Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC — may also consider investments in bollards to ensure safer streets and sidewalks.
Bollards aren't the only way that New York is focusing on pedestrian safety. Mayor De Blasio also announced today that Prospect Park is now completely and permanently car-free to increase safety for cyclists, joggers and visitors. With this increased focus on pedestrian safety at the start of the new year, New York is establishing the foundation for a people-first focus in 2018.