New York City’s goal to reduce fatalities by half by 2030 is historic by American standards. Already the safest large U.S. city for traffic fatalities, achieving this goal would save over one hundred lives a year and make a significant impact on the city’s overall health and safety.
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However, when we compare New York with its peer cities in other developed nations it becomes clear that the city’s current goal is not nearly as ambitious as it can and should be. For instance, while New York strives to cut its traffic fatality rate in half in 23 years, Paris did the same thing in just six. New York is already more than three years behind the principal cities of other developed countries. Not content to rest on their laurels, many cities in Europe are moving ahead to reduce fatalities even further with the end goal of completely eliminating fatalities and serious injuries.
This report recommends that New York City become the world leader in street safety and commit to a zero tolerance policy for traffic fatalities, establishing an ultimate goal of completely eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries. This approach may seem new to many New Yorkers, but it is difficult to conceive of a more appropriate approach to street safety when the high human cost and ethical implications of traffic fatalities is considered.
Traffic crashes will still occur, but we can design and use the system in a way that crashes do not have to result in death. It will require that the streets look different in 2030 than they do today. Designs will need to be put into place that prevent dangerous speeding and protect vulnerable users. Some may criticize these changes as “un-New York,” but the idea that dangerous streets represent some vital characteristic of New York is absurd. It implies that human life is not valued as highly here as it is elsewhere. Creating safer streets will not diminish the city’s vitality and energy; it will save lives.
About Transportation Alternatives:
Transportation Alternatives’ mission is to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile and to promote bicycling, walking, public transit. With 100,000 active supporters and a committee of activists working locally in every borough, T.A. fights for the installation of infrastructure improvements that reduce speeding and traffic crashes, save lives and improve everyday transportation for all New Yorkers. Since our founding in 1973, T.A. has paved the way for remarkable changes in New York City’s transportation infrastructure: the extraordinary growth of bicycling, the launch of Citi Bike and the introduction of innovations to city streets, like Complete Streets, parking-protected bike lanes, automated speed enforcement cameras, public plazas, Select Bus Service and Neighborhood Slow Zones, and much more.
Right now, Transportation Alternatives activists are leading the fight to improve infrastructure for bicycling and walking on scores of local streets and to change traffic enforcement policy and practices citywide. The goal is to achieve Vision Zero — the elimination of traffic deaths and serious injuries on New York City’s streets.
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