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Cyclist Deaths Rise While Pedestrian Deaths Go Down, City Data Shows

By Aidan Gardiner | July 7, 2017 4:21pm | Updated on July 10, 2017 7:30am
 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 — Vision Zero safety measures appear to have had no benefit for cyclists, who have been killed more frequently since 2013, a year before the initiative began, data shows.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's traffic safety law, passed in 2014, has mostly saved pedestrian lives, the data shows, cutting the number of deaths in that group nearly in half, from 83 in the first six months of 2013 to 48 in the same period this year.

However, cyclists are dying more and more on the road since 2013, which ended with only 12 deaths, data shows.

Since then, the death toll has climbed steadily, except for 2014, which saw a dramatic spike, data shows.

Nine cyclists have already been killed this year, including Dan Hanegby who was run over by a private bus on West 26th Street, data shows. That's down three from 2016, but up two from 2013, data shows.

Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said the relatively low number of bike deaths "is more susceptible to fluctuation" and therefore seems statistically more dramatic.

"Part of that is the function of the enormous rise in cycling itself. Looking at the crash rate or the fatality rate, we're doing better, just because there's so many more people cycling," he said.

"That doesn't diminish the urgency to make streets safer and expand bike lanes," Steely White said.

Steely White wanted the city to better protect cyclists by building more protected bike lanes in the five boroughs.

Overall, traffic deaths seem to have dipped, with only 93 up to July of this year, the lowest over that six month span since 2013, data shows.

City officials and advocates credited the decline to the bevy of safety efforts under the Vision Zero initiative like reduced speeds and increased enforcement.

"No loss of life on our streets is acceptable, but under Vision Zero, we have seen continued and consistent progress, with traffic fatalities on the decline for three-and-a-half years, strongly countering national trends," de Blasio said.

Officials with traffic safety organizations like Transportation Alternatives, which has long been critical of road conditions in the city, lauded the decline.

"We applaud Mayor Bill de Blasio for championing Vision Zero and staying the course. Families of those who perished spoke up and the mayor listened. More than that, he acted," Steely White said.

"Scores more New Yorkers are alive, and thousands more are thriving because the mayor is putting people first on the streets of New York," Steely White said.