Mayor Bill de Blasio outlined his 2016 street safety agenda to the City Hall press corps this morning, after DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg led a short walk by a redesigned section of Queens Boulevard. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was a no-show for the second year running.
Noting that traffic deaths declined to a historic low in 2015, the mayor listed $115 million in capital projects to improve street safety on the docket for this year and said the city would push for legislation in Albany to lift restrictions on automated speed enforcement.
Last year, 231 people were killed in New York City traffic, according to preliminary figures in the city’s Vision Zero Year Two Report, which was also released today [PDF]. That’s down from 257 in 2014 and an improvement on the previous low of 249 fatalities in 2011. A citywide tally of severe traffic injuries in 2014 is just now available and also shows a significant improvement, declining about 12 percent from the previous year.
The most significant citywide change over the past two years has been the deployment of 140 speed cameras in combination with the lower default speed limit of 25 mph. State law, however, still limits the number of speed cameras NYC can deploy and restricts their use to areas near schools, during school activities. This means camera enforcement doesn’t happen at night, when speeding tends to be most prevalent.
It’s not clear exactly what the city will ask for in Albany, but de Blasio indicated that increasing the hours that speed cameras can operate is a high priority. The mayor said he hopes state electeds will put aside other political disagreements for the sake of safer streets.