NYPD Patrol Clash in Manhattan, May 2020
Andrés Correa Guatarasma / Courtesy
Indirectly, the pandemic has caused other deaths not related to contagions, because as traffic decreases, it appears that people drive more dangerously, and cyclists and pedestrians lower their guard.
No surprises, before Thanksgiving NYC had already had more traffic fatalities in 2020 than in all of 2019. Particularly in the last days, four Hispanics died in different accidents in Brooklyn, between shocks and runs.
The city has added 222 people killed in car accidents as of November 24, according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). This exceeds the 220 deaths in the whole of last year, which was even an alarming figure that generated announcements such as the expansion of the largest surveillance cameras in the country, which have not brought the expected results.
Commenting on the figures, the activist group “Transportation Alternatives” this week asked Mayor Bill de Blasio to “rescue” the program “Vision Zero” of the city, which is a long way from its original goal of reaching zero asphalt fatalities by 2024.
“These tragedies are the predictable and preventable result of underfunding the initiatives of Vision Zero and prioritize the movement of car traffic over human life, ”said Danny Harris, director of the group, in a statement, noting that the fatal increase has occurred despite the fact that there are fewer cars circulating due to the pandemic.
The budget most recent of the City Council, approved in the midst of the COVID-19 budget crisis, took away $ 18 million for bike and bus lane initiatives, which are key to safer streets, Harris noted.
The city was on an excellent streak that stopped in 2019, after reaching historic lows at the beginning of De Blasio’s term, which began in 2014, pointed out New York Post.
Motorcyclists and motor vehicle occupants account for the majority of those killed in 2020, while the 91 pedestrian deaths this year are on track to be the lowest on record. “DOT is determined to continue using our data-driven approach to address the locations more prone to accidents and protect all users ”, highlighted the official representative Alana Morales.
Responding to Harris’ criticism, Mayor’s spokesman Mitch Schwartz said that the city spent $ 125 million on Vision Zero programs in 2020 and upgraded 16 miles of bike lanes “despite a dramatically shorter installation season” amid the lockdown.
The mayor admitted that there was “more work to be done.” “Over the course of the seven years we had some moments where we were able to have really extraordinary success and we have also had some setbacks, but the basic concept works and will continue to work,” he said during his daily press conference on Tuesday.
“Every redesign of the streets helps, all the control measures help, all the speed cameras help, we have to keep doing it and behavior changes. And then, ultimately, continue to build public transportation to give people much better options, ”De Blasio reiterated.
In particular, there have been 69 times more deaths in NYC per million trips than Revel motorcycles since its launch in 2018 than Citi Bike in its seven years of existence, city officials alerted in October.