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163 Cyclists and Pedestrians Were Killed in Crashes in 2016, City Says

By Aidan Gardiner | February 23, 2017 4:05pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio stands with some city workers redesigning Queens Boulevard according to Vision Zero plans on July 23, 2015.
Mayor Bill de Blasio stands with some city workers redesigning Queens Boulevard according to Vision Zero plans on July 23, 2015.
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Mayoral Photography Office/Ed Reed

NEW YORK CITY — More than 160 cyclists and pedestrians were killed in crashes during the third year of the mayor's Vision Zero initiative meant to curb such deaths, an increase from the previous two years, according to a city report released Thursday.

Traffic deaths overall — including motorists and passengers — in the past year were the lowest recorded since the city started keeping records of those deaths in 1910. But cyclist and pedestrian deaths in 2016 were higher than in 2015 or 2014, the first year of Mayor Bill de Blasio's safety initiative, data shows.

"Though traffic fatalities were down overall last year, cyclist and pedestrian fatalities moved in the wrong direction as key Vision Zero indicators," said Brian Zumhagen, spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, a traffic safety advocacy organization.


Meanwhile, police have arrested more drivers than ever — 39 — for crashing into cyclists and pedestrians under Vision Zero's right of way law, Administrative Code 19-190, the city said.

That's up from 34 in 2015 and one in 2014, when officers and prosecutors were first able to apply the misdemeanor charge against drivers, data shows.

In 2015, only 15 percent of drivers who killed a cyclist or pedestrian were charged under 19-190, according to analysis DNAinfo New York did that year.

It wasn't immediately clear how many had been charged in 2016.

Still, city officials and advocates lauded the other progress the Vision Zero initiative has made.

"Despite our record success in saving lives these past three years, we know that Vision Zero is just starting," de Blasio said.

"Even with all our work and after the safest year in history, someone was lost in a traffic crash on average once every day and a half, still too frequent," he added.

De Blasio expects that the $400 million infusion into Vision Zero that was announced in January will help push traffic deaths further down, he said.

Officials also touted their completion of more than 240 safety projects including 30 miles of protected bike lanes, 1,000 brightened crosswalks and 1,248 crossing signals that allow pedestrians more time.

Advocates cautiously praised the progress that has been made, but said more still needs to be done.

"The budget increase the mayor unveiled recently can only have a significant impact for Vision Zero if projects are scaled up and the focus is on 'priority locations' the Department of Transportation has identified," said Transportation Alternatives' Julia Kite.

In 2015, the DOT and NYPD identified areas around the city that merited priority because they posed more danger to people on the road, officials said. Teams were dispatched to those areas and many have been or will be redesigned, the city said.

There were an average of 141 deaths in those areas prior to 2015, but that dipped to 100 on average in 2016, the city said. 

"It's encouraging to see so many of these dangerous corridors and intersections receive treatments in 2016, but there are still a lot of them waiting for significant interventions," Kite said.

Vision Zero Year 3 Report by DNAinfoNewYork on Scribd