Statement: After 42% Increase in New Yorkers Killed in Preventable Traffic Crashes to Date in 2019, Vision Zero Needs to Be Reinvigorated and Systemically Applied to Keep Saving Lives

Families for Safe Streets announces May 7 "Put Safety First!" emergency vigil to be held at City Hall
Joseph Cutrufo -
(646) 873-6027

Statement of Families for Safe Streets co-founder Amy Cohen: 

"As people who have all personally felt the agony of loss, we are horrified that to date in 2019 there have been at least 61 fatalities on the streets of New York City, a 42 percent increase compared to this time last year. 

While this trend is troubling, it is not exactly surprising. A host of street safety projects across the city have been delayed due to petty fights and parochial politics:

  • a redesign of Amsterdam Avenue in Upper Manhattan has languished for over two years because of community board obstruction
  • the fourth phase of the Queens Boulevard redesign has been stalled for over a year due to horse-trading between the mayor and a council member
  • Grand Street in Brooklyn was partially redesigned but has inexcusably been left unfinished since the fall of 2018
  • and Central Park West still doesn’t have protected bike lanes, despite the clear consensus that safety must come before parking on this corridor. 

These examples speak to the de Blasio administration’s approach to Vision Zero, in which projects are too often planned on a one-off basis, leaving the fate of their actual implementation up to the inscrutable push and pull of local politics. In each case, the final outcome is too often determined by who yells the loudest, and not by what will save the most lives. Vision Zero, the goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries, requires bold and systemic change -- change that always puts safety before politics or a parking space. 

To that end, it is time for the de Blasio administration to stop asking so much of us -- mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters -- who have lost loved ones to traffic violence. We travel throughout the five boroughs to beg and plead for safe streets. And although doing so brings back the pain of our losses every single time, we forge ahead because we know that if we don’t, someone else’s family will suffer like ours. 

The Department of Transportation is capable of designing and building safer streets -- we’ve seen it happen -- but Mayor de Blasio imposes unnecessary and unacceptable restrictions on his own administration by routinely acquiescing to the voices of a self-interested few who want to preserve the status quo, at the expense of the many who will continue to pay with lives lost. For a city where so few own cars, drivers today have a disproportionate say in how our streets are designed. 

The sharp increase in fatalities on New York City streets this year should be triggering alarm bells that the de Blasio administration must create new processes to ensure that simple life-saving street redesigns can proceed at a pace necessary to get Vision Zero back on track and achieve the goal of zero deaths or serious injuries on our streets. The first step is to stop obstructing the Vision Zero Street Design Standard, a bill by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez which would require the city to provide a public checklist of known life-saving measures *every* time a major street is redesigned. The bill has an unprecedented super-majority of 43 Council Members as co-sponsors.

We are calling all New Yorkers to join us for an emergency vigil on May 7 at noon on the steps of City Hall to demand action."