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Vision Zero Has Come Far, But There’s Still Work To Be Done

Vision Zero was a road safety platform initiated 15 years ago in Sweden in an effort to eliminate roadway fatalities. Soon enough, cities like Chicago jumped on the bandwagon, with the logic that fatal traffic accidents could be prevented through smarter engineering, education, and enforcement. Several other cities have adopted similar plans and New York is no exception. Mayor Bill de Blasio took up the Vision Zero cause, calling for lowering speed limits, redesigning streets, and stricter enforcement of traffic laws. Unfortunately, while overall passenger vehicle traffic fatalities are down, fatal accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists are up, as City Lab reports. 

New York City may be the one city coming closest to achieving the “zero” part of Vision Zero. The number of traffic fatalities fell to an all-time low of 202 in 2018. 

Among the changes in New York City’s policies are 82 miles of protected bike lanes, more pedestrian-friendly traffic lights, increasing the penalties faced by reckless drivers, reducing speed limits, and speed enforcement cameras in school zones. 

However, New York may have a built-in constituency for wide-spread pedestrian safety improvements. 60% of trips are already made on a mode of transportation aside from a car. 

Some, however, aren’t convinced that New York has made the changes that it should. In 2018, pedestrian deaths were up to 114 from 107 in 2017. 2019 has already seen 23 cyclist deaths, more than double the 10 from 2018. The primary complaint is that the city hasn’t been doing enough to encourage drivers to get out of their vehicles and take another mode of transportation. 

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