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Pedestrian Deaths Increase Along With Cyclist Accidents in NYC

Despite longstanding efforts to cut down on pedestrian deaths in NYC car accidents, the number of pedestrians who died on New York City roadways in the first half of 2019 was up by more than a fifth compared to the previous year.

Recently, three pedestrians were hurt in Queens on a Saturday afternoon when a motorist trying to beat a red light lost control of her car and drove up onto a sidewalk. A few days later, a Harlem man died from injuries he suffered in July as he stood in the protected bike lane and was run down by a hit-and-run bicyclist.

Statistics from the NYC Department of Transportation say 82 people were killed on the streets of New York between January 1 and June 2 of this year. That’s an increase of 22.4 percent over the same period last year, according to Streets Blog NYC.

The spike in pedestrian deaths, which unfortunately is mirrored by a rise in cyclist deaths in New York, is worrisome given reports that the number of traffic deaths in New York City had dropped in 2018 to the lowest level in more than a century. And this is despite Vision Zero, the City’s action plan for ending traffic deaths and injuries on NYC streets. Safety features installed in new cars aren’t helping preventing pedestrian accidents too.

Clearly, something is suddenly not going as intended.

Early Stats for NYC Pedestrians Deaths in 2019

According to the Streets Blog analysis, the 82 roadway deaths reported in New York City through June 2 include:

  • 46 pedestrians (which is eight more than during the same period last year)
  • 10 cyclists (which matches the deaths for all of last year)
  • 6 motorcyclists
  • 20 motor vehicle occupants (which is up from 14 last year).

Pedestrian deaths have increased by 21 percent, which is not as bad as driver deaths (up 25 percent) or cyclist deaths, which are up a whopping 66.6 percent, according to the blog.

But the primary point of the Streets Blog report is ongoing discrepancies between DOT numbers and statistics that are reported sooner but less accurately by NYC Police.

A DOT spokesman says NYPD’s TrafficStat numbers may over-estimate current-year fatalities while under-estimating previous years’ totals. Meanwhile, Marco Conner of the Transportation Alternatives advocacy group, told Streets Blog that DOT numbers typically under-estimate fatalities, which increase retroactively when deaths from injuries are included.

Regardless, as Doug Gordon, a New Yorker who tweets as @BrooklynSpoke, says in the report: “If I’m killed by a driver, it won’t make a whit of difference to my wife and kids if I’m the 68th or 66th pedestrian or cyclist fatality this year so far. All they’ll care about is that I’m dead.”

What Has ‘Vision Zero’ Done About NYC Pedestrian Deaths?

Vison Zero, the plan to eliminate all traffic-related deaths in New York City by 2024, was unveiled by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014 with a promise to use every tool available to improve the safety of streets in every borough.

According to Vision Zero, pedestrians traditionally account for 56 percent of all New York City traffic fatalities. Crashes often have multiple contributing factors, including driver inattention, speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, use of alcohol, crossing midblock or crossing against the traffic signal, and other factors, such as weather and darkness.

But, “Dangerous driver choices are the primary or contributing factor in 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities,” it says. In the remaining 30 percent of fatalities, there is a documented error by the pedestrian with no apparent error by the driver.

Children and seniors are especially vulnerable to pedestrian accidents, it says. Being struck by a vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14. People over 65 make up 12 percent of the city’s population but 33 percent of pedestrian fatalities.

The primary actions promised in the Vision Zero plan were to pursue:

  • Expanded enforcement against dangerous moving violations that contribute to  pedestrian accidents
  • New street designs and configurations to calm traffic and improve safety
  • Broad public outreach and communications
  • A sweeping legislative agenda to increase penalties for dangerous drivers and give New York City control over the safety of streets.

According to the Vision Zero Year 5 annual report, released in March, the plan initially identified priority intersections, corridors, and areas based on the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured (KSI) between 2009 and 2013. By the end of 2018, DOT had addressed 90 percent of priority intersections and 86 percent of priority corridor miles “with design and engineering treatments,” leading to a 36 percent drop in pedestrian deaths at those locations.

Because many locations that once ranked among the highest for pedestrian KSI are now markedly safer, Vision Zero has recalculated to identify new priority intersections, corridors and areas, and work to mitigate danger to pedestrians among them lies ahead.

The report also credits:

    • Activation of 873 leading pedestrian intervals (giving pedestrians a 3- to 7-second head start as they enter an intersection with a corresponding green signal in the same direction of travel)
    • NYPD focus on targeting the six violations most likely to cause serious or fatal injury to pedestrians:
      • Speeding
      • Failure to yield to a pedestrian
      • Failure to stop at a signal (running a red light)
      • Improper turning
      • Using a cell phone or texting while driving
      • Disobeying signs.
    • DOT running radio ads during evening commutes to caution drivers about the dangers of lower visibility and encourage them to follow the 25 MPH citywide speed limit, turn slowly, and yield to pedestrians.

Citywide, pedestrian deaths have decreased by 37 percent since 2013, the report says.

Still, what the Vision Zero annual report calls a “small increase” in pedestrian deaths from 107 in 2017 to 114 in 2018 represents “a troubling sign that the city’s streets remain dangerous for many New Yorkers,” according to The New York Times.

Mayor de Blasio “called the rise in pedestrian deaths disappointing,” The Times said in its New Year’s Day report.

And, unfortunately, since the first of the year, the disappointment at City Hall has continued as shock, grief and ongoing loss in more than 40 New York City homes.

An NYC Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Can Help

If a loved one of yours has been hit by a car, truck, motorcycle or cyclist and killed in New York City, you should speak to an NYC pedestrian accident lawyer. You, as a surviving family member, may be entitled to compensation if the accident was the driver or cyclist’s fault. A legal claim could help you with medical bills, funeral expenses and lost income, and compensate you for your grief. A claim may be possible for a serious pedestrian accident injury, too.

The NYC pedestrian accident lawyers of David Resnick & Associates, P.C., are skilled at evaluating traffic accident claims and have a track record of recovering compensation for clients. We work with pedestrian accident victims in ManhattanQueensBrooklynStaten Island, the Bronx and all of New York City. Call us today or use our online contact form to set up a free legal consultation.

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