NYC Department of Transportation’s 2016 Fatality Report: Achievement and Concern

The Department of Transportation’s recently issued report on traffic fatalities in New York City for 2016 showed marked improvement with a decline in overall deaths, but it also raised concerns because of the increase in pedestrians and bicyclists killed. As the New York Daily News recently reported, “The year ended with 229 people killed on the street — a 23 percent decline from the 299 fatalities during 2013, the year before Mayor de Blasio unveiled his Vision Zero street-safety agenda.” However, the bad news is that “141 pedestrians and 18 cyclists died in 2016, up from 139 pedestrian and 14 cyclist fatalities in 2015.” The outlook for 2017 is also initially quite startling: 10 people, including seven pedestrians and a cyclist, died in traffic accidents in just the first 10 days of this year, twice the number who died in the same time period last year.

The de Blasio administration touted its construction initiatives, which included 100 safety redesigns, the addition of 405 speed bumps and the adjustment of 750 crosswalk signals to give pedestrians a head start. But DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo conceded, “There’s more work to be done.”

Advocates for traffic safety were quick to temper the administration’s enthusiasm, stating, “It’s not the right time to take a victory lap.” Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, which supports Vision Zero, says DOT has “only scratch[ed] the surface.”

At Barasch & McGarry, we are heartened that certain Vision Zero initiatives seem to be bearing fruit. But the streets of New York City cannot be considered safe until they are safe for all who use them, which naturally includes pedestrians and bicyclists. The increase in cycling fatalities, while troubling, is not altogether shocking. There are more people riding bikes in the city, because so much has been done to make this activity safer. However, we have no reason to believe there are more people walking the streets of New York, so the increase in pedestrian deaths is particularly vexing. We urge the mayor to continue to seek solutions, especially for the most dangerous intersections in our city.

Barasch & McGarry represents motorists, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists injured in traffic accidents. To schedule a free consultation, call 844.302.8312 or contact our firm online.

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