Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
One of the select Year Five Vision Zero initiatives calls for intensifying street-safety improvements in areas with high senior citizen concentrations and pedestrian injuries to seniors.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Last year was the safest 12 months on record on City streets, and the fourth consecutive year of declining traffic fatalities, Mayor Bill de Blasio noted on Friday, touting Vision Zero as his administration released the safety initiative’s Year Four Report.
According to the 90-page analysis, which reviewed the first four years of Vision Zero, NYC’s traffic fatalities have declined 28 percent since 2014, including a precipitous 45-percent drop—to 101 in 2017 from 184 in 2013—in pedestrian fatalities.
The Year Four Report details citywide efforts made around engineering, enforcement, and education. It spotlights certain roads and intersections, including the Woodhaven Boulevard-Cross Bay Boulevard thoroughfare. Due to the high number of pedestrians killed or severely injured (KSI), the section of Woodhaven-Cross Bay between Queens Boulevard and the northern end of the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge had been designated a Vision Zero Priority Corridor. A major safety project along Woodhaven Boulevard from Union Turnpike to 81st Road crafted a simpler central median with a pedestrian refuge, added turn restrictions, and created a turn bay at two high-crash locations.
And just last November, the City Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched Select Bus Service on the Q52/Q53 routes along the infamous corridor. According to the YFR, “bus island construction, bus lane enforcement, signal upgrades, and updated street markings have improved bus travel times, increased pedestrian safety, and made traffic smoother and more predictable.” (It should be noted that complaints regarding SBS to area elected officials from constituents living and working in communities through which the corridor runs, including Howard Beach, Ozone Park, and Woodhaven, have skyrocketed since the service started roughly five months ago.)
However, as DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg pointed out, not all VZ results have been positive. In 2017, the city saw increases in fatalities among bicyclists, drivers, and motorcyclists.
According to the administration, select Year Five VZ initiatives include:
• Update Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plan priority maps based on an analysis of KSI data from 2014-2016, the first three years of Vision Zero
• Intensify street-safety improvements in areas with high senior citizen concentrations and pedestrian injuries to seniors
• Implement Bicycle Priority Districts to increase lane network mileage in areas demonstrating disproportionate KSIs relative to their infrastructure
• Convene a working group to develop a Vision Zero-based driver education program for those under 25
• Identify intersections at which new traffic signals would likely be warranted by using data analysis.