July 22, 2021 By Allie Griffin
2021 is on track to be the deadliest year in terms of traffic fatalities since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, according to a new report.
The first half of 2021 saw the greatest number of traffic deaths for the first six months of any year since de Blasio was elected mayor, according to a report released by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets Wednesday.
Across the five boroughs, 124 people were killed in crashes from Jan. 1 through June 30. Of that number, 64 were pedestrians, 52 were motorists and eight were cyclists.
Transportation advocates blame the de Blasio administration for the increase. They say he hasn’t made good on his signature “Vision Zero” plans to prevent traffic fatalities and injuries.
“More people are dying on Mayor de Blasio’s streets because he failed to quickly and aggressively scale the safety solutions of Vision Zero that he knows work, instead choosing to deliver piecemeal projects and unfulfilled promises,” said Danny Harris, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.
In May alone, 31 people died in collisions citywide — making it the third deadliest month since 2014. Furthermore, the city hit 100 fatalities for the year on May 30, the shortest time it has taken to reach the grim milestone within a year over the past seven years, according to the report.
In Queens, there were 20 traffic deaths from Jan. 1, 2021 through May 31, 2021, according to the latest data available on the city’s Vision Zero map. During the same period last year, there were five fewer traffic deaths across the borough at 15 fatalities.
“Every month in 2021 we are breaking records for lives lost to traffic violence,” said Families for Safe Streets member Judy Kottick, whose daughter Ella Bandes was struck and killed by the driver of an MTA bus in 2013 at an intersection on the border of Ridgewood and Bushwick.
“These are our neighbors, our parents, our siblings, and our children — killed because our elected leaders failed to expand the significant early success of Vision Zero.”
Traffic fatalities dipped in early 2020 and then steeply rose once the pandemic shuttered the city.
Many believe the increase in crashes is due in part to a rise in speeding—a habit formed during the pandemic when fewer vehicles were on the road—as well as a subsequent increase in car usage as people have avoided the use of public transportation.
Overall, there have been nearly 550 traffic fatalities in Queens since de Blasio became mayor in 2014 — and 1,700 individuals have been killed by vehicles across all five boroughs since then — according to the report.
The advocates say the solutions to saving lives and making streets safer are well known. These include creating more busways and bus lanes; increasing the number of protected and connected bike paths; turning streets and parking spaces over to restaurants and other small businesses; and redesigning streets where multiple crashes have occurred.