New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed to carving out nearly $40 million from the city’s budget to redesign Brooklyn’s McGuinness Boulevard, site of eleven pedestrian deaths and three cyclist deaths since 1995. According to StreetsBlog, a single 1.25-mile stretch of McGuinness Boulevard, from the Pulaski Bridge to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, has been home to 1,548 car crashes since 2013, injuring “40 cyclists, 59 pedestrians, and 236 motorcyclists.” A deadly crash last month killed schoolteacher Matthew Jensen near the BQE’s entry ramp; the driver of the hit-and-run has not yet been found.
A trove of data about SUV ownership in New York City, obtained by street safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, reveals that New York City residents “are buying SUVs at an increasingly high rate, and larger vehicles are contributing to more cyclist and pedestrian deaths” in the city.
A recent study by street safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has uncovered an epidemic of speeding in New York City, finding that 70% of drivers observed were driving faster than the speed limit. “Speeding drivers are a leading cause of death and injury on New York City streets,” the study notes, but because city officials “do not have control over speed limits,” New Yorkers are left woefully unprotected from the raft of dangerous driving. One possible solution to the epidemic is a bill currently under consideration by the New York State Legislature, “Sammy’s Law,” which would give New York City the power to control its own speed limits.
A recent survey Manhattan Community Board 4 revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the sidewalks in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea neighborhoods, according to a recent report by StreetsBlog. The Community Board surveyed a total of 960 responds, 10% listed as having disabilities, and received 4,909 comments. The average age of the respondents was 52 years old, and 80% of respondents lived in zip codes associated with Community Board 4.
The New York state legislature is currently considering a bill that would reduce the legal blood alcohol limit in the state from .08 to 0.05. If the bill becomes law, New York would be the second state in the nation to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit to .05, after Utah. According to a report by the New York Post, advocates for the legislation say it “would save countless lives.” According to Bronx News 12, the new law would also reduce the legal limit for Aggravated Driving While Impaired charges from .18 to .12.
The legal blood alcohol limit used to be .1 when state houses across the country began reducing it in response to “concerns about deadly drunk driving,” according to the Post. It’s been almost a decade since the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a limit of .05, with only Utah following the advice.
A recent analysis by the publication Newsday found that in Long Island, “few drivers involved in crashes that kill pedestrians and bicyclists face criminal charges.” In an examination of car crashes that resulted in the deaths of involving pedestrians and cyclists in 2019 and 2020, Newsday found that there were 135 total pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, but only 20 prosecutions of the drivers involved, resulting in a prosecution rate of 15%. According to Newsday, that rate goes up to 30% when crashes involving “environmental conditions or pedestrian or bicyclist error” are excluded.”
A recent article in the Staten Island Advance analyzes the upsurge of traffic deaths that have occurred on Staten Island in 2021. According to the report, there have been eight road violence deaths in Staten Island since January 2021, “more than double the three traffic deaths the borough had seen by this time last year.” Continue reading
Twenty-five people were killed in road violence incidents in New York City last month, in what StreetsBlog describes as “the deadliest April since Mayor de Blasio took office in 2014,” during “the second deadliest year for road violence” during his administration. The statistics, outlined in data released by think take Transportation Alternatives, cast a grim pall over the city’s Vision Zero program. Continue reading
Earlier this month a group of safe-streets lobbying groups in New York released the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act, a collection of eight pieces of legislation “that will better support victims of traffic violence and make streets safer across New York State at a moment when traffic fatalities and speeding are both on the rise,” according to advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. The lobbying group, which includes Families for Safe Streets and and other organizations, is campaigning for the passage of these eight bills this year.
The eight bills in the Crash Victims Rights and Safety Act include the following, according to StreetsBlog NYC:
The New York City Comptroller’s office recently released a report showing that between July 1, 2019 until June 30, 2020, New York City paid $142.4 million to settle “1,390 claims filed by people injured by the on-the-job driving practices of city employees.” StreetsBlog NYC reported earlier this month that this figure reflects a 3% increase in car crash claims since the previous fiscal year and a 33% increase in total settlements.
In contrast to the increase in claims concerning injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents, according to StreetsBlog, the Comptroller’s report showed a decline in total personal injury claims against New York City, “from 16,713 in fiscal year 2019 to 15,553 in 2020.” In a statement, Comptroller Scott Stringer suggested this was tied to the coronavirus pandemic, saying: “The pandemic took an unimaginable toll on our neighbors and loved ones, small businesses, and the way we all work and live. Protecting and strengthening the city’s fiscal health is now more important than ever to make a strong economic recovery.”