As traffic fatalities across the country have increased more than 13 percent in recent years, New York City has bucked the trend four years running, with a 32 percent drop in 2017, the lowest number in more than 100 years, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.
Under the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative, fatalities have dropped 28 percent since 2013, with pedestrian deaths seeing a 45 percent decline, the lowest numbers since the city began tracking such data in 1910.
Last year, there were 214 traffic fatalities in the city, 101 pedestrians, 23 bicyclists, 33 motorcyclists and 57 drivers. Comparatively, there were 231 total deaths, including 148 pedestrians, 18 cyclists, 33 motorcyclists and 46 drivers, in 2016. In 2013, there were 299 deaths, consisting of 184 pedestrians, 12 cyclists, 42 motorcyclists and 61 drivers.
“Vision Zero is working. The lower speed limit, increased enforcement and safer street designs are all building on each other to keep New Yorkers safe,” de Blasio said at a press conference at the NYPD’s Central Garage in Queens. “Now we must deepen this work. Not even a single tragedy on our streets is acceptable, and we’ll keep fighting every day to protect our people.”
In addition to redesigned streets, lower speed limits and an uptick in enforcement, the city also reprogramed 832 traffic signals to allow pedestrians a head start in crosswalks, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said, adding that work still remains.
“The number of lives lost on our streets is still too high including the increase in fatalities we saw this year among cyclists, drivers and motorcyclists,” she said. “We know we have much more work to do to fully achieve Vision Zero.”
Other notable highlights from 2017’s Vision Zero campaign:
• While the previous five years saw an average of seven schoolchildren (ages 5 to 17) killed in traffic crashes, last year’s one fatality of a 13-year-old boy in East Harlem was the fewest ever recorded for the age group.
• Queens led the boroughs with the fewest traffic deaths with 59, a 9 percent drop from 2016.
• NYPD Traffic officers wrote more than 50,000 summonses to drivers who did not yield to pedestrians or cyclists, four times more than pre-Vision Zero averages.
• The department also issued almost 150,000 speeding summonses, while automated speed cameras issued about 1.2 million Notices of Liability.
• A record 25 miles of protected bike lanes were installed across the city, triple the pre-Vision Zero annual average. Since the initiative began, more than 180 miles of dedicated lanes have been added to the city’s biking network, which currently totals almost 1,200 miles.
• Queens Boulevard, once the “Boulevard of Death,” saw its third consecutive year without a pedestrian or cyclist fatality.