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Vision Zero: Mayor de Blasio Announces That Traffic Fatalities Are Expected to Drop for Fifth Straight Year

December 28, 2018

Under Vision Zero, 2018 has been safest year on record, with fewest New Yorkers lost on City’s roadways since 1910;  Year saw most dramatic fatality declines among cyclists and car occupants — and in Manhattan and on Staten Island

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that as the year nears its end, New York City was on track to see its fewest traffic fatalities on record, powered largely by dramatic drops in cyclist and motor vehicle occupant fatalities, both of which have reached record lows. The boroughs of Manhattan and Staten Island also reached record fatality lows in 2018.  Overall trends suggest New York City will achieve a fifth consecutive year of declining traffic deaths under Vision Zero, with fatalities declining by a third since 2013. 

Since 2013, the year before Vision Zero was implemented by the de Blasio Administration, traffic fatalities have dropped 34 percent to the lowest level since record-keeping began in 1910.    Thus far in 2018, 196 people have been lost in traffic crashes; last year, as of December 27, New York City had experienced 221 traffic fatalities, and the year 2017 ended with 222 total fatalities.  Among cyclists, fatalities have seen a dramatic decline: 10 so far this year compared to 24 in 2017 — from a four-year average of 19 deaths since 2014.  Meanwhile, motor vehicle occupant fatalities have fallen to 36 thus far from a total of 58 last year, and from a Vision Zero average of 56 per year.

“With each passing year, New Yorkers continue to see Vision Zero save lives,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Over the last five years, we have lowered the speed limit, increased enforcement and designed hundreds of safer streets. But no loss of life on our streets is acceptable, and the twelve pedestrians killed so far this past month are a sober reminder that this new milestone is less a cause for celebration than a reminder that even with this year’s success, we have much more to do to meet our ambitious goal.”

“Heading into 2019, the NYPD and our partners will continue to advance the extraordinary efforts that have led to years of sustained declines in traffic deaths in New York City,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “Any fatality, however, is a stark indication of how much work is left to do in order to make all of our streets safe at all times for every driver, bicyclist and pedestrian.”

“Five years into Vision Zero, New York City has seen lower fatalities each year, encouraging results unparalleled among American cities,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We have been especially gratified that after years of increasing cyclist fatalities, cycling deaths are declining this year to their annual lowest levels ever — even as cycling experiences greater ridership than ever.  However, as the Mayor has reminded us, the past few weeks of lost pedestrian lives remind us that we have much more work to do to fully achieve Vision Zero.”

“We have more drivers and vehicles today than ever before, and in the face of this growth we have seen a 50% decrease in licensee-related crash fatalities this past year, highlighting the dedication of the tens of thousands of licensed professional drivers who incorporate the goals of Vision Zero into their daily work,” said TLC Chair Meera Joshi.  “As we recognize each milestone, we never lose sight of the fact that there is still work to be done as we redouble our efforts on outreach, enforcement and education in the coming year.”

Among notable Vision Zero achievements in 2018:

A Steep Decline in Cyclist Deaths: As part of Vision Zero, New York City committed to expanding access for cyclists, who are among the most vulnerable street users.   Under Vision Zero, cycling has become the fastest-growing transit mode and during 2018, fatalities among cyclists declined to record-low levels: 10, compared to a previous record-low of 12 in 2009 and 2013, when cycling was much less popular.  Major developments this year that will continue to improve cycling safety in New York City include: 

  • Expansion of Bike Lanes: DOT installed over 20 miles of protected bike lanes in 2018, the second-most of any year and more than triple the pre-Vision Zero annual average — including major new lanes on Skillman/43rd Avenues in Queens and 9th Street in Brooklyn. Since the start of Vision Zero, more than 250 miles of dedicated cycling space (conventional and protected bicycle lanes) have been installed, with a bicycle network that now exceeds 1,200 miles.  
  • More Bike Sharing Bike share’s dramatic expansion continued in 2018 with a dockless pilot in the Rockaways, on the North Shore of Staten Island and in the Bronx.  In November, Citi Bike also announced that as part of a $100 million investment by Lyft, it would double its service area and triple the number of bikes over the next five years.  Over its first five years, Citi Bike’s arrival in local communities has led to an increase in cyclists but a measurable decrease in the number of serious crashes involving bicycles.
  • Better Designs In 2018, DOT released Cycling at a Crossroads: The Design Future of New York City Intersections.  With the vast majority of cycling crashes happening at intersections, the report provides a comprehensive look at design options for intersections with protected bike lanes. Based on a detailed analysis of safety and comfort for different design treatments, it provides an overview of their use in various street contexts, including guidance for applying pilot “protected intersection”-type treatments citywide. 
  • L Train Preparations With cycling expected to double or even triple in communities affected by the closure of the L train tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan this coming April, DOT this year undertook ambitious plans for safer cycling routes for displaced L riders.  On Brooklyn’s Grand Street, new protected lanes will see finishing touches in the months ahead.  These lanes will complement mid-Manhattan’s first-ever protected crosstown bike lanes on 12th, 13th, 26th and 29th Streets.  With a new ferry route for L riders opening in April, new crosstown lanes along East 20th Street have opened.  A new two-way protected lane on Delancey Street also connects cyclists on other protected lanes directly to the Williamsburg Bridge, already the most popular East River bicycle crossing.

Fewest-Ever Fatalities in Manhattan and on Staten Island:  By borough, Manhattan and Staten Island have seen the most notable fatality declines in 2018.  So far this year, Manhattan has seen a record low 27 fatalities compared to 45 in 2017; its previous record low was 28 in 2015.  The borough of Staten Island has also seen its fewest-ever fatalities: 6, down from 15 in 2017, and significantly less than the previous record low, 11, in 2014.   Hylan Boulevard, which was the site of eight traffic fatalities in one 12-month period during 2014-15, has been the intense focus of DOT safety improvements and NYPD enforcement: in 2018, Hylan Boulevard saw a single traffic fatality.

Preservation of the Speed Camera Program:  The City’s 140 speed cameras have been a key element of Vision Zero, shown to reduce speeding in school zones by over 60 percent.  Despite inaction during the Albany legislative session, where reauthorization of the lifesaving program was blocked, the program was restored on the day before schools opened -- thanks to strong and coordinated action from Mayor de Blasio, Governor Cuomo and Council Speaker Johnson.  

Continued Strong Traffic Enforcement:  As part of ongoing Vision Zero enforcement, NYPD Traffic officers issued more than 50,000 summonses to drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians or cyclists in 2018 -- more than four times the pre-Vision Zero annual average. Over the same period, officers issued nearly 150,000 speeding summonses, and automated speed cameras issued nearly 1 million Notices of Liability in 2018, with more than 50% issued at Vision Zero Priority Locations.

Vision Zero “Dusk and Darkness” Marketing: Media messaging during the evening commute is a key component of the "Dusk and Darkness" initiative. Following an increase in pedestrian fatalities this month, most during darkness hours, DOT has extended its drive-time radio advertising to remind drivers of the increased risk to pedestrians during the winter months. Drivers should follow the speed limit, turn slowly and always watch for pedestrians. The Vision Zero television ad "Driving isn't Easy, but Saving a Life is" will air on broadcast and cable stations from January through March.

Safety Improvement Projects in Every Borough: DOT completed 138 street safety engineering projects in 2018, more than double the pre-Vision Zero annual average, with 95 projects at Priority Locations. Nearly 500 safety engineering projects have been completed since the start of Vision Zero.   Among this year’ major projects around the five boroughs that will have an impact on the safety and mobility of New Yorkers:

  • Midtown Manhattan: In 2018, DOT installed sidewalk extensions on 7th Ave between 34th and 42nd Street, one of Midtown’s busiest streets leading directly to Penn Station.  The changes provide more than 30,000 square feet of additional pedestrian space. 
  • Northern Bronx: Running along Van Cortlandt Park, Broadway had long been a high-crash corridor.  DOT installed a variety of safety enhancements, including a two- way protected bike path, additional pedestrian spaces, shortened crossings, and bus boarding islands. 
  • South Brooklyn:  DOT, working closely with MTA NYC Transit, improved bus service along Kings Highway with the launch of B82 Select Bus Service (SBS) with new bus lanes that limit conflicts, streamline traffic flow and save travel time for 28,000 daily commuters. 
  • Rockaway, Queens: As part of a multiagency focus on infrastructure investment, access to opportunity and improved quality of life on the Eastern half of the peninsula, a complex and confusing intersection was resdesigned at Far Rockaway Blvd and Beach Channel Drive. New crosswalks, markings, expanded pedestrian space and a simplified traffic pattern make it easier for residents, including those at a new senior facility, to walk to local retail and the A train. 
  • Bulls Head, Staten Island: Along Victory Boulevard, a Vision Zero Priority corridor, DOT added pedestrian refuge islands, new crosswalks and an ADA-accessible sidewalk and bus stop at Arlene Street.

Safer For-Hire Vehicles: In a year where TLC licensees achieved a 50% decrease in the number of licensee-related crash fatalities, the agency was pleased to have honored more than 400 drivers and 17 businesses for their exemplary safety records, the highest number of honorees in the five years of the event.  Safety Honor Roll drivers have no crashes involving an injury or fatality, no moving violations, and no TLC rule violations for at least four years.  In February , the TLC also approved the final version of its fatigued driving prevention rules, which set daily and weekly hour limits for drivers to help keep tired drivers off the road. TLC continued to hold driver outreach meetings at licensed For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) bases and taxi garages throughout the city, highlighting protected bike lanes, high-risk driving behavior that can lead to crashes, and the crucial role that professional drivers play in promoting a culture of safe driving.  

“Nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of our fellow New Yorkers, and safe streets are a huge part of doing so successfully,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “The progress we’ve made on Vision Zero is inspiring and the reduction in cyclist deaths is especially encouraging. We of course have more work to do, but we are making progress and that means we are saving lives. I thank the DOT and Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and the NYPD and Commissioner O’Neill for all their incredible work on this critically important issue.”

“Whether by foot, by bike, by bus, or in their cars, it’s essential that New Yorkers can travel around this city safely,” said City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “Vision Zero has spurred real progress and saved dozens of lives. For our students walking to school, seniors heading to their doctors, and all New Yorkers, safe streets are a basic necessity and something we have to continuously work towards.”

“I commend the strong coalition of DOT, safe streets advocates, and everyday New Yorkers who have helped make New York City’s highways and byways the safest they’ve been in more than a century,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “We must not rest on our laurels, because true Vision Zero is still a goal out of our grasp. In the coming year, we must double down on our efforts to redesign dangerous corridors and end traffic violence across the five boroughs.”

“Every year we reduce traffic fatalities is a milestone, but we need to keep working — through education, outreach, infrastructure investment, and enforcement — until the number is zero,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

“I commend Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg on today’s announcement and the continued success of Vision Zero to improve traffic and pedestrian safety throughout New York City for the fifth consecutive year,” said Congress Member Adriano Espaillat.  “We have witnessed a decline in injuries and fatalities and will continue our efforts to strengthen safety measures along city sidewalks, popular tourist destinations, and high pedestrian traffic areas as we work to improve preventative measures to guide traffic, protect individuals, and potentially save lives.”

 “The data speaks for itself: Vision Zero is working,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “With lower speed limits, increased traffic enforcement, and more life-saving speed cameras around our schools, we can continue to build on this goal and achieve our vision of zero fatalities. Thank you to Mayor De Blasio and DOT Commissioner Trottenberg for their continued determination to keep our streets safe.”

“Vision Zero has saved lives in our community,” said State Senator-Elect Jessica Ramos. "Cyclists and pedestrians have all seen the greatest benefit from the efforts of the program. Street redesign, like the one needed on Northern Boulevard, expanded bike lanes and fewer cars on the road have made the streets safer for all our families, but we will not rest until there are zero deaths year after year.”

“Vision Zero has help reduce the number of traffic fatalities in New York City because people are paying more attention to traffic signals, other drivers, pedestrians and slower speed limits,” said Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz. “As additional changes are made to our city's traffic patterns and more people use bicycles, it's critical that everyone follows posted speed limits and considers others on the streets. It's everyone's responsibility to be safe and considerate drivers, cyclists and pedestrians."

“Although I am extremely pleased with the overall reduction in traffic fatalities, I still believe that there is much more work to be done,” said Assembly Member Michael DenDekker.  “We need an expansion of the speed camera program, increased penalties for vehicles with multiple camera violations, and traffic lights that allow pedestrians to cross the street without any vehicles moving.”

“The overall decrease in traffic fatalities since Vision Zero began shows that the initiative is making progress,” said Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz. “I am pleased that New York City is becoming safer for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists as streets and driving conditions are adjusted to better reflect a 21st century city. I look forward to seeing the continued improvements Vision Zero brings until we reach our goal of eliminating senseless death and injury from traffic accidents.”

“Communities are safer now based on leadership provided from our Department of Transportation as fatalities have reduced for the 5th year in a row,” said Assembly Member Harvey Epstein.  “This comprehensive approach outlined in Vision Zero has helped all New Yorkers travel safer to work, school and home. I look forward to the City’s continues success reducing fatalities.”

“The safety of our children and our community must always be our highest priority - and I am thrilled that through the efforts of Vision Zero, traffic violations are down for the fifth year in a row in New York City,” said Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon. “However, there is still much work to be done. The tragic incident in my district in Park Slope, where two young lives were taken, serves as a constant reminder, and I will continue to sponsor legislation in the Assembly to make our streets safer. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and advocates for safe streets who continue to fight to protect our communities.” 

“The initiative taken by the Mayor must be lauded and as the New Year comes, the Vision Zero program will be heralded as a program that has and will continue to preserve and save lives,” said Assembly Member Jaime Williams. “I am proud to work with the Mayor and the New York City Department of Transportation on such an important initiative.”

“Too often members of our community have been hurt or lose their lives in traffic crashes,” said Assembly Member-elect Catalina Cruz. “I commend the Mayor's Office, the Department of Transportation, and street-safety advocates for the continued success of Vision Zero- but we still have a lot of work to do. The reduction of traffic fatalities and the improvement of street conditions for cyclists and pedestrians are vital to saving the lives of all New Yorkers. I look forward to working together with the Mayor’s Office, the Department of Transportation, and advocates on initiatives to achieve even greater advancements aimed at decreasing the number of traffic-related deaths and injuries in our City.”

“This is surely an accomplishment to be proud of, and one that would not be possible without the dedicated men and women of both the Department of Transportation, and the Police Department, who have shown a strong commitment to improving traffic safety not just on Staten Island, but all across our city,” said Assembly Member-Elect Michael Reilly. “I look forward to collaborating with them as we continue expanding on this success.” 

“I’m proud to serve as the Chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee working with the Administration to set expectations under Vision Zero, which have curtailed traffic fatalities every year, for the last five years," said Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez. “I commend Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner, Polly Trottenberg for their efforts to combat traffic fatalities at a level that has become a national model. While these numbers continue to drop, we must increase our efforts to protect pedestrians and cyclists by enhancing street design measures, encouraging the use of public and alternative modes of transportation on city streets, and adding more protected bike lanes to foster a less car-reliant culture and move towards the future of sustainable options such as e-scooters and e-bikes.”

“New Yorkers should be safe, not only from crime, but also as they travel about the city,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik.  “The city’s continued success in reducing the frequency of traffic fatalities is a noteworthy accomplishment, and I am hopeful that each year will bring further progress toward our vision of seeing traffic deaths hit zero.”

“The streets are getting safer for pedestrians and cyclists throughout our city. Five years of Vision Zero has made our streets safer. Four years ago we started a Bike Safety Program for the Upper East Side working with DOT on infrastructure improvements, distributing free safety equipment, with DOT and NYPD on education and enforcement, education from CitiBike and Bike New York, and we've seen safety results over the past four years on the Upper East Side - it just keeps getting safer,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for his commitment to Vision Zero, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for pushing through resistance to implement so very many safety improvements, and to both for their partnership in saving lives in my community and throughout the city.”

“Keeping New Yorkers safe must always be our top priority,” said Council Member Rory I. Lancman. “It is commendable that the city has again reduced the number of traffic deaths and continued to make our streets safer. We must build on this progress in the new year to further reduce the number of fatalities and injuries.”

“We all know safety is a priority,” said Council Member Keith Powers. “With efforts in full swing for the City to protect pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists, I look forward to both increased and sustained work to achieve Vision Zero at hot-spots in my district and across the city. I commend DOT and the Mayor's office for the safest year on record, and another significant year ahead.”

“In five years, Vision Zero has consistently reduced the number of traffic fatalities in New York City to now-record lows overall, a remarkable achievement," said Council Member Carlina Rivera. "But the work ahead is evident as we analyze this year's statistics by specific type, such as pedestrian loss of life. Only through continued innovation and common-sense enforcement can we ensure that pedestrians, cyclists, and motor vehicles are sharing our streets safely.”

“Traffic deaths are at a record low, but we cannot rest until that number is zero,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “That means continued investments in the components of Vision Zero that are working, including more speed cameras, protected bike lanes, modernized crossing infrastructure, and more. It is our duty to guarantee the safety and accessibility of our city’s roads for all pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers.”

For more information about the Vision Zero initiative, please see

As of Dec, 27
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