New York City Mayor Defends Traffic Safety Plan Despite Rash of Deaths

By JONATHAN LEMIRE | November 13, 2015

Three people, including a child, crushed by a car that plowed into a group of trick-or-treaters. An 84-year-old woman run over by a charter bus that never stopped. A grandmother struck by a taxi driver finishing a 16-hour shift.

Since Halloween, vehicle-related incidents across New York City have claimed 12 lives, a figure that has generated headlines and some criticism of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious traffic safety agenda. But the mayor defended his Vision Zero plan Monday, saying that while any deaths are a cause for mourning and concern, the city’s streets are safer than they have ever been.

Vision Zero is working,” said de Blasio, who touted that last year’s number of pedestrian deaths was the lowest in a century. “This has just begun. This is an effort that is just over a year old and is already yielding real results.”

City officials said 192 people, including 107 pedestrians, have been killed this year in the city through Sunday. Last year during that same period, there were 226 fatalities, including 119 pedestrians.

And in 2013, the year before de Blasio took office and enacted Vision Zero, there were 237 fatalities, including 140 pedestrians.

A key component of Vision Zero – a traffic plan originated in Sweden in the late 1990s with the audacious goal of reducing the number of traffic fatalities to zero – is stepped-up enforcement of traffic regulations.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said Monday that New York police officers have issued 12,000 more speeding tickets than a year ago and increased the number of tickets given for failing to yield. He attributed the rash of deaths to a random statistical “spike” and said officers would remain vigilant in enforcing traffic rules.

Over the past year, the citywide speed limit has been lowered to 25 mph, and dozens of intersections have been redesigned to make them safer for cars and pedestrians. De Blasio said Monday that more intersections would be transformed in the coming weeks.

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