This year may go down in history as one of the most lethal for New York City’s road users. According to recent news reports, the first six months of 2021 have seen more road user deaths than any previous first six months of the year since the beginning of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.
According to the New York Post, research conducted by transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives found that 124 people died in traffic incidents between January 1, 2021 and June 30, 2021. This includes 64 pedestrians, 32 motorists, and eight cyclists. The group’s research also found that there were 47 hit-and-runs during the first six months of the year, “more than any half-year period since cops began keeping track in 2015,” with only 11 arrests out of the 47.
In a statement released earlier this month, Transportation Alternatives said, “More people are dying on Mayor de Blasio’s streets because he failed to quickly and aggressively scale the safety solutions of Vision Zero that he knows work, instead choosing to deliver piecemeal projects and unfulfilled promises.”
According to a report by City Limits, Mayor de Blasio said in a press conference that the increase in deaths was partially attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw an increase in reckless driving, as well as a decrease in public transit use. “If we’re going to disincentivize car use, particularly individual car use, and get people back to mass transit and make mass transit better so people want to be in those subways and buses, we need congestion pricing,” he said, blaming the state government and MTA for the lack of action on that front. “We’re going to keep investing in Vision Zero—more speed cameras, more enforcement, more bus lanes, more bike lanes.”
Transportation safety advocates like Transportation Alternatives have recommended that Mayor de Blasio respond to the spike in traffic violence by “building out more busways, bike lanes, and high-occupancy-vehicle lane restrictions into Manhattan’s central business district,” according to a report by amNY. The advocacy group’s report also argues that the mayor should also instruct the city’s Department of Transportation to “repurpose” curbside parking spaces for such uses as “deliveries, pick ups and drop offs, and expanded sidewalks.”