Vision Zero Improves Pedestrian Safety, Brooklyn Fatalities Up

The city’s pedestrian fatalities maybe down, but Brooklyn seems to still be struggling to make roadways safe for residents.

Earlier today, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City saw the fewest traffic fatalities on record last year, driven by a 32 percent drop in pedestrian fatalities. Since 2013, fatalities have dropped 28 percent, pedestrian deaths have plummeted by nearly half—45 percent, marking the lowest levels since record keeping began in 1910.

However, for Brooklyn the numbers went up from 51 pedestrian fatalities in 2016 to 57 in 2017. This is an almost 12 percent increase across the borough.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

“In 2016 we saw record low numbers of fatalities in Brooklyn, and we are disappointed that 2017 brought an increase in these tragic incidents in the borough. DOT will be re-doubling its efforts on creating safer streets this year, including a major redesign project planned along Brooklyn’s 4th Avenue,” said de Blasio spokesperson Ben Sarle.

The mayor’s announcement marks the fourth consecutive year of declining traffic deaths under Vision Zero, an initiative that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.

Pedestrian fatalities in Brooklyn have fallen by 49% in the past three decades and an average of 46 pedestrians are killed in Brooklyn each year, the highest of any borough.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams

“Vision Zero’s substantial impact on public health and safety is a testament to our City agencies and community partners coming together to solve a critical urban challenge. As pedestrian deaths have substantially decreased, we should be mindful of the continued threats to cyclists across the borough, particularly in heavily trafficked areas without bicycle paths,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. 

In 2017, 214 people, 101 of them pedestrians, were lost in traffic crashes. This compares to 231 total fatalities and 148 pedestrians in 2016. These reductions are sharply bucking the national trend. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic fatalities nationwide have increased more than 13 percent from 2013-2016.

“Vision Zero has truly saved lives — of family members, friends, neighbors and fellow New Yorkers. In 2017, under the Mayor’s leadership, DOT’s work helped fuel a historic drop in pedestrian fatalities, including through a record number of street safety redesigns and turning treatments, and by reprogramming a record number of traffic signals to give pedestrians a head start in crosswalks,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

Vision Zero has implemented traffic safety improvements at priority locations including installing 832 new leading pedestrian intervals giving pedestrians a “head start” in crosswalks, new left-turn safety treatments at 110 intersections over the last year, and adjusting traffic signal phases to discourage speeding.

However, the number of lives lost on our streets is still too high, including the increases in fatalities we saw this year among cyclists, drivers and motorcyclists.  We know we have much more work to do to fully achieve Vision Zero,” said Trottenberg.

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