New York City saw its safest year in 2015, but officials plan to do much more to continue saving lives.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday morning that since launching in 2013, Vision Zero has led to a 22 percent decrease in traffic fatalities — making 2015 the safest year on city streets since record-keeping began in 1910.
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Along with praising the program, the mayor added that 2016 will see $115 million in capital investment for plans to continue calming traffic, implementing Safe Routes to Schools, cracking down on dangerous driving and piloting a new plan to test safer left turns.
“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,” de Blasio said. “This progress is just the beginning, and Vision Zero is going to move ahead with even more intensity in the coming year.”
Last year there were a total of 231 traffic fatalities, which is 66 less than 2013’s total of 297 fatalities before the Vision Zero initiative began. Pedestrian deaths also hit a historic low of 134 in 2015, falling 27 percent during the two years.
According to the mayor’s office, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, U.S. pedestrian fatalities increased by 3 percent in 2014 and are expected to have increased in 2015.
“We at DOT are extremely proud that 2015 was the safest year on record for pedestrians on New York City’s streets. However, we recognize that any fatalities mean we have more work to do,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said.
For the new year, the city plans to prioritize in setting forth more safety redesigns of major thoroughfares, such as extending the Queens Boulevard improvements and also safety improvements along Astoria Boulevard and traffic calming on Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn.
As part of the $115 million in new capital investments, close to $59.4 million will go towards Safe Routes to Schools at 37 schools throughout the city; $29.6 million for area-wide improvements in Long Island City in Queens; and $4.1 million in extra funds for the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway project.
A total of $22 million will also go towards projects in downtown Brooklyn, Manhattan and Far Rockaway.
Other initiatives that are planned for 2016 include a 100-intersection pilot plan to test safer left turn designs; safer protected bicycle routes; NYPD enforcement targeted to protect seniors; more use of speed enforcement cameras; and earlier education for public school students.