New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is touting the success of his plan to end traffic fatalities in the city, known as Vision Zero. The mayor’s office announced two weeks ago that the number of deaths in motor vehicle accidents of all kinds has gone down significantly. In fiscal year 2014-2015, 249 people died in traffic accidents in the city, compared with 285 in FY 2013-2014.
Although deaths were down in every traffic accident category, the degree of improvement was not equal across the board. Pedestrian deaths declined by 8 percent, while deaths from car crashes declined by 20 percent.
While fatalities declined, injuries rose by 2 percent. This is consistent with the experience of other places that have tried something similar to Vision Zero. Efforts to slow traffic have resulted in more fender benders and other nonfatal crashes.
The traffic news is not entirely positive. For example, fewer people renewed their Citi Bike memberships this year and the number of trips also declined. The year-end report attributed the decline to increased membership fees and a cold winter. It may be temporary; a recent news report said that bicycle use in recent weeks had been growing.
The city has made less progress this past year than previously in implementing improvements to reduce traffic accidents. There were fewer bike lanes and bike racks installed and the city created fewer square feet of pedestrian space than during the previous year.
The mayor’s spokesperson, Wiley Norvell, said that the fiscal year just ended was the safest year for pedestrians since the city began keeping records in 1910.