City defends Vision Zero despite 2016's uptick in traffic deaths

Transportation officials on Wednesday defended the de Blasio administration’s handling of his Vision Zero safety plan, despite an increased number of pedestrians and cyclists being killed last year on city streets.

The Department of Transportation touted a record low for street fatalities in 2016, with 229 pedestrian, cyclist and motor vehicle deaths.

Yet of those, drivers killed 141 pedestrians and 18 cyclists. That’s 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.

Vision Zero isn’t preventing cyclists from ‘dying on the streets’

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.

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.

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.

More pedestrians & cyclists are being killed despite Vision Zero

“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, enforcement against reckless driving and 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.


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