New York City set a record low for traffic deaths in 2017 — for the fourth year in a row.
The steady drop in deaths on city streets — from 299 in 2013 to 214 deaths this past year — is a decisive achievement for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, the mayor boasted on Monday. Most notable about the figures is the steep, 32-percent decline in pedestrian deaths between last year and 2016, he said.
“In the beginning, like every great endeavor, we didn’t know for sure how far we could go and how fast we could go — but I got to tell you, Vision Zero has been one of the things that has worked best for this city,” de Blasio said at a Queens news conference. “It’s been one of the game-changes; it’s been one of the life-savers.”
The mayor’s initiative to bring traffic deaths in New York City to zero relies on a mix of street redesign, enforcement and public awareness campaigns. Through Vision Zero, de Blasio has dropped the citywide speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph; began the use of cameras to enforce speeding near schools and has increased the installation of parking-protected bike lanes, bringing nearly 61 miles of protected bike lanes.
Despite the successes, the city has struggled to curb the number of cycling deaths as more and more commuters take to bikes to get around. Cycling deaths have increased for two years in a row, according to city data, from 14 cycling deaths in 2015 to at least 21 deaths last year.