Despite his “Vision Zero” campaign to eliminate car crash deaths in New York City, former mayor Bill de Blasio departed office last week with “more traffic fatalities than any other year” in his eight-year administration, according to a report by the New York Post. A total of 266 people lost their lives in traffic violence incidents by December 26, 2021, a record high for de Blasio’s two-terms in office. The previous record was 293 people in 2013; he became mayor in 2014.
According to the report, that 266 figure included 120 pedestrians, 61 vehicle occupants (drivers or passengers), 50 motorcyclists, 19 bicycle riders, and 14 “users of other devices,” like e-scooters. And while Vision Zero sought the end of car crash deaths, in reality it only saw a drop in 10% over eight years.
As the Post notes, traffic violence in the city rose over the course of the City records showed that the early lockdowns saw a sharp increase in speeding, with automatic speeding cameras issuing 180,718 summonses between March 5th and March 24th, 2020 (as first reported by Streetsblog). That figure represented a 12.3% increase over the same period in January 2020.
According to the Post, public officials attribute 2021’s increase in traffic violence to factors like the unlicensed motorcycle usage and hit-and-runs. A spokesperson for the city’s department of transportation told the Post that “two-thirds of motorcycle victims were unlicensed,” and that 60% of incidents that resulted in pedestrian deaths “involved drivers who either fled the scene, did not have a valid license or had prior convictions or license suspensions.” The number of hit-and-runs last year was “nearly doubled” the number of hit-and-runs in the previous three-year period, the spokesperson said.
In comments to the post, a bicycle users criticized the de Blasio administration for missing opportunities to make the streets safer for vulnerable road users. A spokesperson for street safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives was more blunt: “While the mayor was quick to blame COVID or Albany or a number of others, the mayor is responsible for our streets. And we had 1,855 people who were killed under this mayor’s watch on our streets,” he told the Post.
More information on the rise in New York City car crash deaths in 2021 is available via the New York Post.