Today Ridgewood Drive resident Bob Zahm, member of the Rye Board of Education, co-chair of Rye’s Trailways and Traffic Safety – School subcommittee and an outspoken advocate on pedestrian safety issues, tells MyRye.com readers that Rye should place traffic summonses data on its web site and that Rye citizens are due an explanation on why traffic enforcement summonses have dropped of precipitously in recent years.
Public Radio airs a series called, “I believe”. Well, one of the things I believe is that if you don’t measure something, you can’t manage to make it better. In the case of Rye, it seems that we can and are measuring, but that we’re not managing enforcement of our local traffic ordinances – speeding, ignoring stop signs, wearing seat belts, not stopping for pedestrians, using hand held cell phones while driving, etc.
(TABLE: click to enlarge or view a detailed spreadsheet)
The Rye City Police Summonses data shown above go back to 2001. While the data is reported to be missing some parking enforcement information for the end of 2009, there are still obvious insights. Number one for me is that enforcement has dropped precipitously since 2006 – by more than 50% in most cases. Does anyone seriously believe that driving behavior has miraculously improved in that time frame? As a pedestrian and a driver, it certainly doesn’t feel that way to me. Certainly not when trying to cross Purchase Street, walk with my children to school, or drive through town without hitting a pedestrian hidden by illegally parked cars.
We might be told that the drop in summonses is due to a reduction in the police force, but the two position reduction planned for 2010 doesn’t account for the drops since 2006. There may be an increase in non-traffic related policing that accounts for some of the change, but it really looks like someone (our police commissioner? Our city manager? The city council?) has directed the police force to reduce enforcement of our laws. Is that acceptable? Maybe to scofflaws, but not to me as a parent, as a pedestrian, as a bike rider, as a motorist.
I’d like to see the city make data related to summonses publicly available in a timely manner on the city’s web site, preferably monthly. More importantly, I’d like to see the city council get to the bottom of the drop off in summonses. Understanding what’s happened is the first step to figuring out what needs to be done to increase our collective safety.
Bob Zahm, a consultant with Accenture, a business management and technology consultancy, for 21 years, has served as a member of the Rye City School District Board of Education since 2004. During his first term, Mr. Zahm chaired the Enrollment Balance Committee, Budget Analysis Committee, and the Finance and Budget Committee. He has served on the Facilities, Health & Safety, and Technology Committees as well as the Curriculum Council. For the District, Mr. Zahm served on the New York State School Board Association’s Task Force on Retirement Benefits which developed strategies and proposed state legislation for gaining control over the cost of escalating retirement costs. Mr. Zahm is also co-chair of Rye’s Trailways and Traffic Safety – School subcommittee.