Photo: Doc Searls/Flickr
New Yorkers are celebrating the safest year on city streets since 1910. According to data released last week by Department of Transportation and the Mayor’s Office, traffic fatalities are down 22 percent since 2013, meaning 66 fewer lives lost. Meanwhile pedestrian deaths fell 27 percent to 134 in 2015.
In an announcement, Mayor de Blasio credited the significant declines to the broad sweeping reforms of the Vision Zero plan, an international road safety project that New York City adopted in 2014. The premise of Vision Zero is that no level of death or serious injuries on city streets is acceptable.
Queens Boulevard, which de Blasio calls “one of the absolutely defining elements” of the Vision Zero plan had a reputation as the “Boulevard of Death.” Thanks to a $100 million commitment to a broad streetscape redesign, Queens Boulevard is now home to protected bicycle lanes, additional speed cameras, widened crosswalks and better-designed exit ramps.
In the same announcement, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said last year was the first time in long recorded history that there were actually zero fatalities on Queens Boulevard.
Other initiatives included in the plan are new leading pedestrian intervals that give pedestrians a head start crossing streets, education and awareness campaigns and new crash test avoidance technologies.
De Blasio also credited interagency cooperation with much of Vision Zero’s recent successes. Some changes include better coordination with the Department of Sanitation in anticipation of weather events and increased conservatism when it comes to travel bans.
The NYPD issued nearly 40,000 Failure to Yield violations last year, nearly triple what had been issued between 2011 and 2013. They also issued over 134,000 Speeding violations, a 75 percent increase compared to the average between 2011 and 2013.
Trottenberg, who is also on the board of the MTA, added that coordinating engineering and enforcement efforts with the MTA was key in reducing fatalities and serious injuries related to MTA buses.
“We are serious about saving lives. Vision Zero is working. Today there are children and grandparents who we might have lost, but who are instead coming home, safe and sound, because of these efforts,” said de Blasio.
Despite the progress, the City says there is still more work to be done. Last week the mayor announced $115 million in new capital funds to build on Vision Zero’s progress. This will help fund Safe Routes to Schools, traffic calming measures and a pilot initiative to test safer left turns.