Experts: Vision Zero saves lives but more needs to be done

- Vision Zero, when you look out on the streets, can you see it? Tangible or not, some New Yorkers see a difference. Some don't. The quick answer: experts and city officials agree that no question, the city's streets are safer.

DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said traffic fatalities on the street of the city have fallen 22 percent, bucking the national trend of increased traffic fatalities.

Let's talk actual lives. For pedestrians alone, that means as of the first half of this year 30 New Yorkers are alive today who in 2013 numbers would have been killed by cars by now. And while the number of cyclists continues to rise, the number of cyclist deaths is falling.

Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives said that redesigned streets and better police enforcement have saved lives.

While there are a lot of components to Vision Zero, the most important has been lowering the city's speed limit from 30 mph to 25 mph. While some may be frustrated as it slows things down, it has saved lives and prevented a lot of serious injuries.

But reckless driving lives strong and continues to kill. On a lesser scale, we continue to see drivers consistently blocking intersections, brazenly parked in crosswalks, and on this day a row of five double-parked cars in a bike lane.

Last week, the city had a heartbreaking reminder that we are far from zero deaths. Two cyclists were killed in Chelsea on separate days, including the first Citi Bike fatality in the city.

The city's transportation commissioner went to Albany this week to plead for more speed cameras. Trottenberg said she believes speed cameras save lives and reduce injuries.

Advocates agree the cameras are needed and more.

Transportation Alternatives' White said the city needs more protected infrastructure for pedestrians and better enforcement (including more speed cameras, especially around schools). He added that the NYPD needs to do a better job of investigating crashes.

These are steps to further inch a vision of zero deaths towards a reality.

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