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Three Pedestrians Have Died In Past Two Days, As De Blasio Insists Vision Zero Is 'Working'

Mayor Bill de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg during a Vision Zero press conference earlier this year
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Mayor Bill de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg during a Vision Zero press conference earlier this year DOT/flickr

New York City is on track to see a rise in pedestrian fatalities for the second year in a row, after three people were killed by drivers in the span of just two days.

The most recent death occurred on Monday morning, when a 49-year-old woman crossing Church Avenue in Kensington was struck by a driver turning right off Coney Island Avenue. The woman, whose name has not yet been released, was in the crosswalk at the time of the collision, police said. The driver has not yet been charged.

The victim's blood was seen dotting the intersection, and witnesses told Bklyner that her head was pinned under the wheels of the vehicle.

Advocates and local residents have long called for the city to make safety improvements to the busy highway-like street, which sits at the edge of Prospect Park, and is now home to a new elementary school. While Mayor Bill de Blasio announced pedestrian upgrades to the nearby Church and Ocean Parkway intersection last month, similar initiatives are not currently in the works for Coney Island Avenue.

The fatal crash comes one day after 65-year-old Cleo Fields was killed by a wrong-way livery driver in Harlem. The motorist in that instance, Alpha Diallo, also struck three vehicles, leaving two others with non-life-threatening injuries. Diallo was charged Monday with manslaughter, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, according to police.

Earlier on Sunday, Gualberto Espin Delgado, 72, succumbed to injuries suffered the previous week, when he was hit by a driver while crossing Horace Harding Expressway in Corona, just a few blocks from his home. The Medical Examiner has since determined that the cause of death was the collision. The driver has not yet been charged.

The trio of deaths brings the total number of pedestrians killed citywide this year to 54, compared to 51 at this point in 2018. Total traffic fatalities—including vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, and cyclists—are also up 15 percent this year, according to city data.

Another pedestrian was also injured on Friday, after an auxiliary cop sped through an intersection in Queens and was struck by a passing car with the light, then careened onto the curb. Police said they are investigating the incident.

Following a spate of cyclist deaths last week, de Blasio acknowledged that Vision Zero was facing a "crisis," and pledged to do more to combat reckless drivers. On Monday, during an unrelated press conference, he returned to insisting the street safety initiative was doing fine, telling reporters, "You can’t do something for five years in a row and it works all five years and then suddenly think it doesn’t work. It does work. Vision Zero works."

The mayor also appeared to conflate the dozens of deaths caused by motorists with complaints he's heard about non-drivers.

"The first challenge is to change the behavior of drivers, of vehicles, and protect people," de Blasio said. "We also need to have an honest conservation about the fact that everyone else in the equation, pedestrians and bicycles, have to comport themselves in a safe matter for everyone."

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