Bill de Blasio has already stated many times over his plans for an “intensive focus” on traffic safety and the quixotic “Vision Zero” plan for eliminating traffic fatalities within the next decade. Admirable and necessary, of course, but also maybe more of an uphill battle than anyone originally thought: the Daily News reports that the first days of 2014 have been particularly grisly, and if the pattern keeps up, put us on pace to have significantly more pedestrian deaths than 2013 (which, for what its worth, had more than 2012, and 2012 had more than 2011, etc.)
“I think the numbers aren’t getting any better, period,” an official from Transportation Alternatives told the paper. “The rise in and of itself raises an alarm.” Just this past week, a nine-year-old boy crossing the street with his father was run over by a taxi, and newly-elected Comptroller Scott Stringer said, “It’s simply outrageous. Our streets shouldn’t be this dangerous. It’s just heartbreaking what happened to that 9-year-old boy, and it’s unacceptable.” Stringer went on, “The death of this 9-year-old boy is the last straw. Enough is enough. We should tackle this head on.”
One could pretty easily argue that “enough was enough” a long time ago—say, when a cab driver who’s admitted he shouldn’t be on the streets, amassed numerous violations, and caused a tourist to have her leg amputated was happily put back behind the wheel without facing any charges, or when 12-year-old Sammy Cohen Eckstein was needlessly run down by a van in Park Slope last year—but regardless, renewed attention to the issue is welcome. De Blasio has mentioned reducing speed limits to 20 mph in some areas (Cohen Eckstein’s parents have advocated for this, as well) and the use of data to identify and troubleshoot particularly dangerous intersections. All of which sounds like a good start, and a welcome change of pace. But in the meantime? Best to look after yourself. Drivers in New York are still killing people all the time, and worse, they’re still getting away with it.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.