Mayor de Blasio lauded 2015 as the safest year on New York City's streets since 1910 as part of his annual Vision Zero check-in on Tuesday. According to the city, there were 231 traffic fatalities in 2015—66 fewer than in 2013, the year before the Mayor's street safety initiative was launched.
134 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2015, versus 139 in 2014 and 183 in 2013.
De Blasio addressed reporters at Queens Boulevard this afternoon—the so-called "Boulevard of Death" recently rebranded with a hopeful "Boulevard of Life" moniker. A $100 million Vision Zero overhaul is underway on the roadway, including pedestrian islands, new mid-block traffic signals, and shorter crossing distances, among other upgrades.
The City announced $115 million in new capital investments for Vision Zero today, including $59.4 million for safety improvements around schools. A pilot project at 100 NYC intersections will test various left turn designs in an effort to slow turning speeds—at some intersections, one or more parking spaces will be eliminated to increase visibility for drivers taking left turns; at others, a plastic bollard in the middle of the crosswalk will force wider, slower left turns. The NYPD also announced that it will practice increased traffic enforcement near senior centers.
Q: will left-turn fixes eliminate parking spaces? Mayor: if process of saving lives means we lose some parking spaces, that's a good choice.
— Kate Hinds (@katehinds) January 19, 2016
The City also pledged to push legislation in Albany that would increase the number of speed cameras on city streets, as well as their hours of operation. Under current law, speed cameras must be located near schools, and can only be turned on an hour before and after school events. Cameras are currently shut down on nights and weekends when, according to DOT data, 85% of traffic injuries and fatalities occur.
The Mayor did not shy away from admonishing drivers today, placing the responsibility for crash-related deaths squarely on their shoulders. We have a "history of drivers thinking their needs are the only thing that mattered," he said. This was not lost on Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White, who commended the mayor for stating "very clearly that saving lives on city streets is more important than parking, and more important than any potential impacts to traffic."
Still, a detailed breakdown of Vision Zero in 2015 [PDF] shows that 14 cyclists lost their lives in crashes last year, in line with the 2000-2013 average. The DOT also reiterated its plans to install protected bike lanes along Amsterdam Avenue, as well as 1st, 2nd and 6th Avenue Avenues in Manhattan in the coming year.
The proposed bike-lane overhaul of Amsterdam Avenue, presented in updated form to Community Board 7 in Manhattan last week, has been a long time coming. But White seemed optimistic about de Blasio's announcement today. "The Mayor reiterated that, while he will listen to community boards, in the end he and his Department of Transportation will do what is right to protect New Yorkers," White said.
The Mayor also pledged to catch and punish hit-and-run drivers, soliciting a we'll-believe-it-when-we-see-it response from some. Indeed, de Blasio recently signed a bill that will double fines for hit-and-run drivers. But according to a report issued in December by Transportation Alternatives, fewer than 1% of the drivers involved in roughly 4,000 hit-and-run crashes last year that resulted in injury or death were charged with a crime.
Transportation Alternatives plans to reveal its bi-annual Vision Zero report card on Wednesday.