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MAP: See How Many Fatal Crashes Were in Your Neighborhood Under Vision Zero

By Nigel Chiwaya | February 18, 2015 7:39am
 Deadly crashes dropped or remained level in 80 percent of the city's ZIP codes in 2014, DNAinfo found.
Deadly crashes dropped or remained level in 80 percent of the city's ZIP codes in 2014, DNAinfo found.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

NEW YORK CITY — One year into Vision Zero, the city's streets are safer.

The number of fatal crashes fell in most neighborhoods across the five boroughs from 2013 to 2014, as Mayor Bill de Blasio implemented his plan to eliminate traffic deaths, according to DNAinfo New York's analysis of NYPD traffic data.

In 80 percent of the city's 254 ZIP codes, the number of fatal accidents either decreased or remained the same in 2014, including in large sections of Queens, northern Manhattan and southeast Brooklyn.

The 11236 ZIP code, which includes Canarsie, saw the biggest positive change in the city, with four deadly crashes in 2014 compared to nine the year before. 

Other areas with dramatic safety improvements include 10022 in Midtown East, 10466 in Wakefield, 11101 in Long Island City, 11421 in Woodhaven and 11377 in Woodside.

De Blasio's 63-point Vision Zero plan, which he outlined last February, aimed to curb traffic deaths through a series of initiatives, including adding more red light and speed cameras and lowering the speed limit.

The highly publicized plan has already changed the way it feels to walk down some of the city's busiest streets, especially since city's speed limit was lowered to 25 mph in the fall, said Hilda Cohen, co-founder of the advocacy group Make Brooklyn Safer.

"It's helped improve safety and attitudes," Cohen, 44, said. "Especially on Atlantic Avenue, I feel like people are paying attention. They're seeing it and trying to go slower."

But not every neighborhood saw a dip in fatal accidents.

In the Upper West Side's 10025 ZIP code, the number of deadly crashes spiked from just one in 2013 to six in 2014. Deaths also rose in 11236, which includes Mill Basin, Flatlands and Marine Park.

Upper West Side resident Janet Wasserman said the city's program hasn't made streets safer in her neighborhood, where fatalities in 2014 included 9-year-old Cooper Stock and 61-year-old Jean Chambers.

“Vision Zero is not making an impact,” Wasserman, 80, said. She added that the city should be much more aggressive in its approach.

"Congestion pricing is a must to reduce the number of vehicles. [We must] increase fines and points for traffic violations, even increase fines for jaywalking. [We need] speed cameras on as many streets and intersections as possible.”

Another critic of Vision Zero is Queens Assemblyman Michael DenDekker, who said the program did "nothing" to keep pedestrians safe.

But advocates counter that the city spent much of Vision Zero's first year laying the groundwork for future improvements.

"I think there were tremendous foundational steps taken," said Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Caroline Samponaro. "We lowered the speed limit. We won the right to have more speed cameras."

Samponaro also praised the new city law that makes it a misdemeanor for drivers to fail to yield to pedestrians, saying the law put "rightfully places the burden on drivers to take extra caution."

Looking ahead, the biggest challenge is for the city to redesign streets to make them safer, advocates said.

"It's very crucial that the city lays out a plan to rebuild our arterial streets," Samponaro said, pointing to thoroughfares like Queens Boulevard as prime places to cut down on deaths. "Vision Zero will not happen if we don't revisit those."

Such plans are already in the works for year two, as DOT Comissioner Polly Trottenberg pointed to a series annoucements the department has made throughout the week aimed at improving traffic through as series of borough-specific improvements.  

“The Pedestrian Safety Action Plans that the DOT released this week will guide the agency's Vision Zero work," Trottenberg said. "We have identified Priority Corridors, Intersections, and Areas in each of the five boroughs that will determine where the City will focus our engineering, enforcement, and education efforts to lower traffic fatalities and serious injuries.”