The Department of Transportation on Wednesday touted a record low for overall traffic deaths last year, amid an uptick in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.
The year ended with 229 people killed on the street — a 23% decline from the 299 fatalities during 2013, the year before Mayor de Blasio unveiled his Vision Zero street-safety agenda.
Still, in the race to zero street deaths, 141 pedestrians and 18 cyclists died in 2016, up from 139 pedestrian and 14 cyclist fatalities in 2015.
The new year is also off to a grim start, with 10 people dying in traffic crashes — including seven pedestrians and a cyclist. By comparison, there were five traffic fatalities in the first 10 days of 2016.
DOT officials rejected calls from safe-street advocates to change their strategy or ramp up improvements on the city’s most dangerous streets.
In the first 10 days of 2017 there have been 10 traffic fatalities.
(Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)
“Obviously, there’s more work to be done. We haven’t completely succeeded, but what we are certain of is that the strategy and the approach we’re doing is saving lives,” said DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo.
De Blasio’s goal under Vision Zero is to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024 through redesigned streets to curb dangerous driving, a lower speed limit and more tickets issued to reckless motorists.
The de Blasio administration highlighted the increase in the number of street projects completed last year, such as 100 safety redesigns, 405 speed bumps and tweaking 750 crosswalk signals to give pedestrians a head start.
Paul Steely White, director of Transportation Alternatives, a booster of the mayor’s Vision Zero agenda, said the city has significantly more problem areas in need of attention than the DOT’s finished projects suggest.
“It sounds impressive, but they’re only scratching the surface,” White said.
“It’s not the right time to take a victory lap,” he added. “We don’t dispute that they’ve done more — they’re just not doing enough.”
NYPD Transportation Bureau Inspector Dennis Fulton also defended the department’s handling of investigations and enforcement against reckless driving and probes of hit-and-run crashes.
“The uptick at the beginning of this year is going to be taken seriously and we’re going to look for a plan of action, and we’ll move forward with building on what we’ve already built,” Fulton said.
With Thomas Tracy