175 people died in auto accidents in New York City between January 1st and October 4th 2020 according to a recent article in the New York Post. Last year 169 people died during the same period of time. These numbers might seem pretty similar however the situation in 2020 was vey different from 2019. For 3 months New Yorkers were required to quarantine and stay home in 2020. As a result a decline in fatalities should have been expected but instead fatalities increased. The empty roads became much more dangerous than usual with road users engaging in risky behavior such as speeding. Yesterday we blogged about the surge in bicycle accidents in the city but bicyclists are not the only category of roads users that experienced a surge in fatalities. 38 motorcyclists died so far compared to 37 for the same period of 2019 and 50 car occupants died in NYC crashes so far compared to 22 for the same period of 2019. This is more than the double. Many of the car occupant’s fatalities are related to speeding but as traffic in the city is returning back to normal, now another problem has appeared: a rise in cyclist deaths. Sadly this doesn’t come as a surprise. Street safety activists and the media have been pointing at both issues, speeding and a rise in cyclists, for months.
Mayor de Blasio self destroyed his Vision Zero legacy
Mayor de Blasio who successfully launched Vision Zero at the beginning of 2014, not only ignored recommendations of his Surface Transportation Advisory Council to address the new challenges created by the covid-19 crisis but additionally slashed the Vision Zero budget (see previous article in New York Post).
Traffic patterns are changing quickly because of the covid-19 pandemic. A new report found that vehicle miles travelled in big American cities has returned to normal but that the morning rush hour has changed into a spread-out much more intense rush hour that lasts from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (see article in Street Blog). This move was expected by traffic experts but again the NYC mayor failed at formulating a post-COVID 19 transportation plan.