The streets are meaner than ever – probably because enforcement has never been so weak – despite Mayor Bill de Blasio who said road safety was one of his top priorities during two terms.
Deaths on city streets soared last year as 275 people – including 123 pedestrians – were killed in crashes, while NYPD’s enforcement of traffic laws meant to protect lives was collapsing, city hall revealed in a report on Friday night.
This is a 30% jump from the 211 traffic-related deaths reported in the same 12-month period in 2020 and most deaths on city streets since 2014, when 285 people are deceased.
The dramatic increase in the number of fatalities and the decline in law enforcement comes seven years after de Blasio’s signature “Vision Zero” initiative, which reduced speed limits in the city and proclaimed the goal of New York to prevent traffic related fatalities on city streets.
But that rhetoric has not been matched with action, pedestrian and cyclist advocates have repeatedly accused, saying the town hall’s plans for buses and bicycles unfortunately do not meet these goals.
“Mayor de Blasio has promised to make the streets less murderous and it is a real leadership failure that in his last year in office we are drastically regressing progress,” said Cory Epstein, spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives, which supported the extension of the city’s bicycle path. network and tightening of driver regulations.
“If all levels of Blasio’s administration don’t do their job to crack down on reckless drivers, the result will be more deaths on the streets.”
Transportation officials and pedestrian and cyclist activists have sounded the alarm bells over a dramatic increase in speeding and reckless driving on city streets for months, complaints affirmed in the massive report of Mayor’s management of 524 pages.
However, the report also reveals that as lethal driving skyrocketed, the number of summons issued by cops fell 57% from pre-pandemic levels.
The NYPD reported that it only wrote 298,377 violations of driving laws between July 1, 2020 and June 31, 2021, the twelve-month period covered by the report.
That’s just a fraction of the 696,012 police officers subpoenaed over the same period in 2019, when the Big Apple recorded just 218 traffic-related deaths.
DOT data shows that each category of traffic-related deaths jumped in the 2021 reference period compared to the previous year:
- 123 pedestrians died, against 107;
- 25 cyclists died, compared to 22;
- 52 motorcyclists died, compared to 31.
The report also reveals that cops arrested just 13 drivers for striking pedestrians who, under city law, had the right of way with their cars, despite 1,979 of those collisions.
Advocates of public transport have used the massive drop in the app to press again lawmakers in Albany state to allow city officials to operate speed cameras and speed cameras 24 24 hours a day. Currently, they can only operate on weekdays between 6 am and 10 pm.
Blasio’s administration is backing the push as traffic enforcement comes under scrutiny after a three-month-old was tragically killed in Brooklyn in a hit-and-run by a driver whose the car had been fined 160 times.
Hizzoner’s Mayor’s MD&A also exposes the COVID-era blocking of key transportation projects designed to make streets safer and slow down drivers.
The DOT set a goal of putting another 250 speed bumps to slow down drivers on city streets over the 12-month period, but only installed 104.
Meanwhile, the deployment of the city’s cycle lanes has slowed significantly, with authorities adding just an additional 65 miles, the lowest rate in at least five years.
But there was good news. Almost half of the mileage, 29.2, has been separated from road traffic, which is the largest amount of protected bike lanes added to city streets in recent years.
The day before the report was tabled by City Hall at 4:59 p.m. on a Friday, de Blasio teased some of the statistics his administration wanted to highlight to reporters during its briefing on Thursday.
When pressed by potential shortcomings that had not yet been revealed, the mayor offered a general defense – the coronavirus pandemic has shaken everything up.
“I’m not trying to say COVID is the only problem. I’m saying the numbers you’ll see in the report that are not at all satisfactory have, in many cases, a basis in the disruption of COVID, ”de Blasio said. “It doesn’t mean anything, but we have to keep working with all the tools we have to fix it. “
Contacted about levels of law enforcement on Friday evening, after the report was released, the NYPD did not respond to requests for comment.
Additional reporting by Julia Marsh and Craig McCarthy.