The city has seen fewer pedestrian fatalities this year than any since 1910—and maybe even beyond, since that happens to be the first year the city began keeping "reliable statistics." In 1910, the city had far more horses than cars, and getting capped by One Lung Curran at McGurk’s Suicide Hall was a decidedly more pressing concern than getting mowed down by an incompetent driver.
"There is no question we are moving this city in the right direction, thanks to stepped-up enforcement by the NYPD, strong traffic safety measures by the Department of Transportation, new laws passed by our legislators, and the work of New Yorkers fighting for change,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Daily News. “This year shows that when we put the force of government and the will of the city behind a goal like Vision Zero, we can get results and make our streets safer.”
But the city shouldn't strain itself with all its back-patting. As of Sunday, there were still 131 pedestrian fatalities, and 250 total traffic fatalities. (Last year there were 170 pedestrian fatalities.) And the lower numbers can be attributed to any number of lurking variables, like the "Janette Sadik-Khan effect," as one Twitter user shrewdly puts it:
Because I'm lazy and not blogging until after the new year, I Storified that for you. Fascinating, I realize. https://t.co/IyQ7NkhRXz
— Brooklyn Spoke (@BrooklynSpoke) December 30, 2014
Additionally, it's tough to assess the accuracy of the city's crash data, since the numbers differ by agency. The NYPD, for instance, has a habit of releasing information on select crashes only, routinely failing to alert the media on an estimated quarter of all traffic deaths. If a traffic death occurs and it's not flagged by the press, it still happened, believe it or not.
In October, the city's default speed limit was lowered to 25 mph from 30 mph. The city also established 27 arterial "slow zones" to calm traffic on notoriously dangerous thoroughfares, like McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.