Earlier this year, WNYC set up an interactive graphic to keep track of all the traffic deaths that occurred in NYC. As of March 19th, there were 45 deaths; now, about 10 weeks later, we've reached 100 deaths. As one cop told the Daily News, "We are seeing more people hit by cars than bullets."
Let's break down the data a bit:
- 49 of those deaths have been pedestrians. Out of those, at least 23 were killed crossing the street, while six were fatally struck by drivers who were backing up their vehicles (that includes snow plows, vans and cars). At least one person died jumping out of a truck as well.
- Five cyclists have been killed, including one by an MTA bus.
- 32 drivers have been killed, while 13 passengers have died.
- 84 of those deaths were adults, and at least six were children (the rest are unknown ages).
- 34 of the deaths occurred in Brooklyn; 33 in Queens; 17 in Manhattan; 11 in The Bronx; and five on Staten Island
The ultimate goal of Mayor de Blasio's ambitious Vision Zero plan is to eliminate all traffic fatalities—pedestrians, cyclists and motorists—by the year 2024. So far, that has included lowering the speed limit in certain areas, getting new speed cameras, audio campaigns, improving notorious intersections, and sending cops out for speeding crackdowns. Despite all that, NYC is only a little bit behind pace to reach last year's total of 286 traffic deaths (which included 178 pedestrian deaths).
So even with these necessary and positive changes, there's been a bit of a one-step-forward, one-step-back mentality going on, especially when cops still ignore speeding cars in favor of ticketing cyclists, and 88% of drivers who fatally strike cyclists still walk free.
But there are signs of more improvements ahead, most prominently with the City Council passing a parcel of eleven bills aimed at strengthening Vision Zero. That includes measures on revoking the licenses of dangerous cabbies, charging drivers who hit a pedestrian or cyclist, banning motorcycle tricks and racing, urging the TLC to report all cab-related crashes, ensuring that DOT quickly repairs busted traffic signals, and more. As The New Yorker put it in a piece this week detailing the ups and downs of the plan thus far:
All this sounds like progress. Even if opponents in the state legislature try to dilute Vision Zero’s full potential, the conversations that have already taken place around New York City should insure that road safety generates the robust debate and discussion it deserves, and wards off the unabated advance of the automobile that Lewis Mumford, the celebrated urbanist and New Yorker architecture critic, argued was “nothing less than a license to destroy the city.”