Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio made the announcement on Monday at the NYPD’s Central Garage in Woodside.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Last year, in a banner 12 months for the Vision Zero initiative, the city saw the fewest traffic fatalities on record, with Queens leading all boroughs, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday in Woodside.
In 2017, the World’s Borough saw 59 fatalities compared to 65 in 2016, a 9-percent decline. The previous record low in Queens was 63 fatalities in 2011.
Overall, NYC experienced a 32-percent drop in pedestrian fatalities last year. In 2017, 214 people, 101 of them pedestrians, were lost in traffic crashes; compared to 231 total fatalities and 148 pedestrians in 2016.
De Blasio noted that this marks the fourth consecutive year of declining traffic deaths under Vision Zero. Since 2013, fatalities have dropped 28 percent.
“The lower speed limit, increased enforcement and safer street designs are all building on each other to keep New Yorkers safe. Now we must deepen this work. Not even a single tragedy on our streets is acceptable, and we’ll keep fighting every day to protect our people,” de Blasio pledged.
Hizzoner pointed to the transformation of Queens Boulevard and the Woodhaven-Cross Bay corridor as one of the reasons for the exceptional Vision Zero statistics. Last year, the City Department of Transportation completed its third phase of street redesign along Queens Boulevard in Rego Park and Forest Hills that featured numerous safety improvements. Queens Boulevard in 2017 enjoyed a third-consecutive year without a single pedestrian or cyclist fatality – previously an unimaginable achievement for a thoroughfare once known as “the Boulevard of Death.”
And in November, DOT and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority unveiled Select Bus Service along Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards. Though the conversion, which saw a lane of thru traffic eliminated in both directions, seems to have fouled up commutes and has had a negative impact on small businesses, the alteration of one of the borough’s most crash-prone corridors includes dramatic pedestrian safety improvements, according to the City.
“The City has been making great strides in improving safety and reducing motorist and pedestrian fatalities along many busy thoroughfares in Queens, however there is still work to be done,” said newly minted Councilman Bob Holden (D-Glendale). “Now that stretches like Woodhaven Boulevard are moving slower and seem to be more congested, cars and trucks have been using side streets to avoid traffic and our neighborhoods have been feeling the biggest impact. We may be making some roads safer, but we may pay the price on our side streets. The mayor and DOT must work with local communities to eliminate this compiling safety concern and to ensure there are no unintended consequences from Vision Zero.”
Other notable Vision Zero achievements for 2017 include: a single fatality among school-aged pedestrian children (5-17 years old); strong traffic enforcement; safer fleet of City vehicles; safer for-hire vehicles; safety improvement projects; turning-safety improvements; traffic signal retiming; and making cycling safer.
However, as DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg noted, in 2017, the city experienced an increase in fatalities among drivers, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
“We know we have much more work to do to fully achieve Vision Zero,” she said.