Brooklyn residents got a glimpse into the future of street safety on February 19 as Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, alongside NYPD officers and dignitaries, unveiled plans for pedestrian safety as part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Vision Zero program.
The program was presented on Thursday, February 19, during a press conference at Brooklyn Ascend Charter School on Rockaway Parkway in Brownsville, which has been identified as a Priority Corridor because of the number of severe accidents occurring on it.
According to the DOT, each year, 58 percent of fatal traffic collisions involve pedestrians. Brooklyn’s pedestrian fatality rate ranks highest among the boroughs, averaging 46 per year.
In addition, while, citywide, 16 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on residential streets, in Brooklyn, 36 percent of pedestrian deaths occur on residential streets, with 23 percent at the intersection of two residential streets. Also, senior citizens are disproportionately impacted in the borough, making up only 12 percent of the population but representing 36 percent of pedestrian deaths.
The Vision Zero effort seeks to promote a “behavioral change and cultural shift” regarding street safety in the borough. Through the plan, the DOT hopes to decrease dramatically the number of traffic fatalities involving pedestrians.
“The fundamental message of Vision Zero is that death and injury on city streets is not acceptable,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We will no longer regard severe crashes as inevitable.”
Efforts began in October of 2014 when the city received $25 million in federal DOT grants towards addressing areas surrounding 13 schools and other streets deemed “high risk” under Vision Zero.
According to the action plan, while the number of Brooklyn pedestrian fatalities has declined 49 percent over the past 30 years, pedestrians continue to make up more than half of all the borough’s traffic fatalities, with an average of one pedestrian severely injured or killed in Brooklyn every day.
“Over the past 30 years, we have made tremendous progress in traffic safety,” said Trottenberg. “We have seen large decreases in the number of fatal crashes, including fatal pedestrian crashes. Motor vehicles, however, continue to seriously injure or kill a New Yorker about every two hours. Each of these tragedies compels us to come together and deliver a safer future for our city. There is plenty of work still ahead of us.”
As outlined in the action plan, the DOT seeks to implement at least 50 Vision Zero safety engineering improvements annually citywide – informed by community input at project locations. In addition, the agency plans to expand significantly exclusive pedestrian crossing time on all Brooklyn Priority Corridors, add pedestrian crossing time to all feasible Brooklyn Priority Intersections, install expanded speed limit signage on all Brooklyn Priority Corridors, install 60 new speed bumps in Brooklyn annually, develop additional Neighborhood Slow Zones in Brooklyn Priority Areas, coordinate with the MTA to ensure bus operations contribute to a safe pedestrian environment, and expand a bicycle network in Brooklyn that improves safety for all road users, among other initiatives.
The full plan can be viewed at www.nyc.gov