As NYC traffic deaths rise, mayor's Vision Zero scrutinized

Debbie Kahn of Mamaroneck, New York, knows the excruciating pain of losing a child. In 2009, her son Seth was hit by a bus and killed while he was crossing at a crosswalk in Hell's Kitchen. He was 22. 

"We got to the hospital and we were stopped and brought into a room and then brought to him," she said. "He was dead."  

Kahn has dedicated her life to protecting others in the city and is critical of the lack of progress of Vision Zero under Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration.

"The streets have not been fixed in New York City and people are dying needlessly," Kahn said.

In fact, the NYPD is reporting that so far this year there have been 137 traffic fatalities, which puts the city on track to be the deadliest year since the mayor was first elected. The mayor is blaming the pandemic for the rising numbers.

"The pandemic caused people to feel uncomfortable on mass transit and they got in their cars and in too many cases were speeding," de Blasio said. "This needs to be reversed, period."

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The mayor needs to prioritize people over cars, said Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, a safe streets organization. 

"He has to stop making promises he's not going to keep," Harris said.

Vision Zero has had some success by narrowing streets, expanding sidewalks, and putting in protected bike lanes, Harris said. However, he added that the mayor has fallen short in redesigning other dangerous streets.

"The challenge remains is that our mayor has not scaled them across the city, especially in communities that need them the most," Harris said.

De Blasio has defended his administration's efforts.

"Vision Zero works," the mayor said. "It can work again."