Spring brings new Vision Zero construction With traffic fatalities declining, Mayor de Blasio embarks on new safety projects

| 29 Mar 2017 | 01:46

Compared to this time last year, traffic fatalities have declined by 20 percent, and 2016 saw the fewest such incidents in the city’s history. To continue the apparent success of his Vision Zero safety plan, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that construction will begin anew on several road improvement projects now that warmer weather has arrived.

“We’re now in the second day of spring and that means construction can begin,” the mayor said at a press conference in Brooklyn. “We’re beginning work on dozens of new Vision Zero projects right now. It’s part of a $1.6 billion investment in safety and infrastructure improvements over the next five years.”

In Manhattan, the areas undergoing construction in the near future are Fifth Avenue from 23rd Street to Washington Square Park, which will be getting protected bike lanes, and Broadway from West 155th to 170th Streets, which will be redesigned for traffic calming and safer crossings. Connections to the Brooklyn Bridge will be improved and a two-way protected bike lane will be installed in front of City Hall.

According to an accompanying statement, the month of March has been busy for those collaborating to achieve Vision Zero. A citywide “pedestrian safety initiative” was conducted during the second week of the month, during which time the NYPD issued nearly 2,000 summonses for failure to yield along with more than 12,000 other Vision Zero-related summonses.

“We’re all pedestrians at some point, so smart redesigns that make streets work better for everyone who walks, rides a bike, takes transit, or drives is the right thing to do,” Nick Sifuentes, deputy director of the Riders Alliance, said in the statement.

But lingering concern over funding for infrastructure projects like Vision Zero put a dark cloud over the generally good news. The mayor told attendees at his press conference that, since 2014, the federal government has supported Vision Zero projects with a total of $100 million. But President Donald Trump’s budget would cut money from such programs, despite a stated interest in boosting infrastructure spending. According to the mayor, the exact amount that would be lost is unknown, but he mentioned that the next phase of the Second Avenue subway as a project that would suffer.

“That money we are losing from Washington — if the President’s budget goes through — that money means that fewer lives will be saved,” de Blasio said. “It is as simple as that.”

Madeleine Thompson can be reached at newsreporter@strausnews.com