How NYC’s drastic decline in traffic deaths could provide road map for Canadian cities


    As Canadian cities battle to seek out options to traffic-related pedestrian and biking deaths, New York Metropolis is touting its outstanding four-year turnaround in making its streets safer — one thing the mayor says is the end result of going all in on a Sweden-conceived road security program.

    New York credit its “Imaginative and prescient Zero” program for a 44 per cent drop in pedestrian deaths since 2014, with general traffic fatalities down by 27 per cent. The primary half of 2018 has seen the fewest traffic-related fatalities in any six-month interval ever measured in America’s most populated metropolis, officers say.

    “The final time metropolis streets had been this protected, individuals had been getting round in a horse and buggy,” New York Mayor Invoice de Blasio mentioned earlier this 12 months.

    Imaginative and prescient Zero’s objective is to reframe how cities have a look at traffic fatalities — not as “accidents” however preventable incidents that may be addressed via a mixed strategy involving road design, public outreach and elevated enforcement.

    The time period was coined in Sweden in the 1990s, and tailor-made applications have been rolled out by a number of cities in Europe, in addition to greater than 30 cities throughout the U.S. Variations of this system have been adopted in a handful of Canadian cities, together with in Toronto, Hamilton, Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver.

    Whereas the Nationwide Freeway Traffic Security Administration says traffic fatalities have elevated throughout a lot of the U.S., New York is bucking that pattern.

    De Blasio, who campaigned closely on this system in 2013 and through his re-election bid final 12 months, plans to spend $1.6 billion US by 2022 to make the town’s roads safer.

    Metropolis officers warning there is not any one answer — and like wherever, New York’s bike lanes and the slowing of traffic have come up in opposition to stiff opposition. So whereas Imaginative and prescient Zero stays controversial, New York’s transportation officers and security advocates say the expertise of the most important U.S. metropolis affords a road map for others.

    This is a have a look at 5 areas the place Imaginative and prescient Zero is working in New York Metropolis.

    Road redesign

    Within the 1990s, Queens Boulevard was referred to as the “Boulevard of Dying,” a morbid nickname that mirrored the carnage that was commonplace on the principle thoroughfare that runs via the metropolis’s borough of Queens. In accordance with the New York Instances, a complete of 186 individuals had been killed or critically damage on Queens Boulevard since 1990.

    In 2015, a big stretch of the road was redesigned; Queens Boulevard underwent what’s known as a road weight loss plan.

    Two lanes of traffic had been faraway from the 12-lane roadway to make room for buses and bike lanes. To sluggish traffic down, the pace restrict was decreased and lanes narrowed.

    Crosswalks had been put in and medians had been widened to offer pedestrians extra space and to shorten the gap they needed to cross. Crossing alerts had been additionally tweaked, giving pedestrians extra time. Protected bike lanes had been put in alongside the centre medians, away from the parked automobiles and bus lanes.

    A have a look at how Queens Boulevard used to look earlier than the Imaginative and prescient Zero-inspired redesign. There aren’t any bike lanes and pedestrians discovered crossing the lengthy distance treacherous. (New York Dept. of Transportation)

    A have a look at Queens Boulevard after the redesign. Lanes had been narrowed and bike lanes had been put in. Medians and crosswalks had been widened to offer pedestrians extra time and area to cross. (New York Division of Transportation)

    Because the modifications, the variety of deaths alongside the redesigned stretch of Queens Boulevard has gone right down to zero.

    “If we could deliver [Queens Boulevard] from the ‘Boulevard of Dying’ to a spot the place individuals need to stroll and need to bike, then actually nothing is unattainable,” mentioned Julia Kite, with New York’s Division of Transportation.

    Giving pedestrians a head begin of some seconds — referred to as main pedestrian intervals — is a method of engineering security, she mentioned. Analysis exhibits that this step, which was just lately adopted at a dozen intersections in Toronto, reduces crashes by 60 per cent.

    “There isn’t any motive to just accept that it is simply … the established order, the truth that individuals are going to get hit or killed or injured in traffic,” Kite mentioned. “It is a approach of realizing that we will engineer out of penalties of human error.”

    This graphic exhibits the bodily modifications made to Queens Boulevard, aimed toward reducing pace and growing security for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. (Metropolis of New York Division of Transportation.)

    Bike lanes

    The variety of cyclists in New York Metropolis has dramatically elevated in current years — and the town has been working to create space for them.

    Citi Bike, the town’s bike-sharing program, has 12,000 bikes at greater than 750 stations across the metropolis, and greater than 143,000 annual members. New York additionally has 738 kilometres of protected bike lanes, with near 100 kilometres being constructed since Imaginative and prescient Zero began.

    A bicycle owner crosses the Williamsburg Bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn, one of many busiest biking corridors in the town. New York estimates there are greater than 1.5 million individuals who have cycled not less than as soon as in the final 12 months. (Steven D’Souza/CBC Information)

    “I believe that issues have improved tremendously in this metropolis. I’d not have imagined all these bike lanes each place — protected bike planes to trip in. We have come a good distance,” mentioned Eben Weiss, the author behind the weblog Bike Snob NYC.

    Eben Weiss is the creator of Bike Snob NYC. He says whereas Imaginative and prescient Zero has succeeded general, the town must do a greater job of enforcement and drivers aren’t punished severely sufficient for traffic infractions. (Tiffany Foxcroft/CBC Information)

    New York is not any totally different from some other metropolis relating to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians arguing about who owns the road, he mentioned. But regardless of its current successes, Weiss says the town nonetheless has a protracted technique to go to deliver cyclists as much as an equal footing with automobiles.

    “These bike lanes are tiny slivers in a metropolis that’s simply criss-crossed with highways, parking garages, all the pieces.… It is so skewed [toward drivers],” he mentioned. “We’re taking one thing massively skewed and making it a hair much less so.”

    Traffic enforcement

    In accordance with New York officers, merely redesigning roads will not obtain outcomes with out traffic enforcement to again it up. Underneath Imaginative and prescient Zero, the town has elevated the variety of traffic tickets issued for offences equivalent to distracted driving, dashing or failing to yield to pedestrians by almost 40 per cent.

    “Whereas we will by no means fully eradicate individuals making errors, we will guarantee that these errors do not have catastrophic penalties,” mentioned Kite. “We’re taking a mixture of engineering enforcement and training to guarantee that this reaches all New Yorkers.”

    Julie Kite, with New York Metropolis’s Division of Transportation, says the objective of Imaginative and prescient Zero is a tradition change, getting New Yorkers to fully rethink how they consider driving. (Tiffany Foxcroft/CBC Information)

    New York strategically elevated enforcement on six traffic violations it recognized as being the most certainly to kill or injure, together with:

    • Rushing.
    • Failing to yield to a pedestrian. 
    • Failing to cease on a sign. 
    • Improper turns. 
    • Cellphone use.
    • Disobeying indicators.

    Between 2013 and 2017, the variety of summons issued for these offences elevated by 41 per cent.

    Whereas traffic enforcement can typically be seen as arbitrary or a cash seize, the numbers could inform a unique story. Toronto, for instance, is seeing an reverse pattern. CBC Information regarded on the variety of traffic tickets issued for comparable offences to these recognized as key to security by New York Metropolis.

    In accordance with numbers from the Ontario Ministry of the Legal professional Normal, the variety of traffic prices laid in Toronto between 2008 and 2017 decreased by 45 per cent. Throughout that very same interval, Toronto police report the full variety of traffic fatalities in the town elevated by 16 per cent. Pedestrians deaths alone elevated by 37.9 per cent.

    This 12 months is shaping as much as be even deadlier, with 20 pedestrians and three cyclists killed thus far, in response to Toronto police.

    Pace management

    Controlling pace has been a serious — and controversial — a part of New York’s Imaginative and prescient Zero program.

    In June 2014, New York put in cameras in 140 college zones to function a deterrent to dashing. In this system’s first two years, the variety of dashing violations issued in the digicam zones decreased by 63 per cent, accidents had been down 17 per cent and fatalities had been down 55 per cent.

    A pace digicam in the Bronx retains a watchful eye over a neighbourhood road outdoors an elementary college. The state legislation authorizing the cameras was just lately allowed to run out, that means the cameras have gone darkish. (Tiffany Foxcroft/CBC Information)

    “The proof exhibits that even the distinction between being hit at 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) versus being hit at 25 miles per hour (40 km/h) makes an incredible distinction in pedestrian odds of surviving,” Kite mentioned.

    However the cameras went darkish final month, the sufferer of a battle between state and municipal governments. The short-term legislation authorizing the cameras expired as state legislators argued about subsequent steps, finally ending their session with out issuing an extension — whilst metropolis officers touted the success of the cameras.

    North of the border, some Canadian cities are beginning to drop pace limits, too.

    In Montreal, for instance, the utmost pace on some main arteries has been dropped to 40 km/h and 30 km/h in some college zones. However some residents say dashing stays an situation and enforcement must be elevated.

    Political will

    Implementing Imaginative and prescient Zero hasn’t been straightforward. The distinction in New York has been political will.

    In July, after a months-long debate over protected bike lanes in one Queens neighbourhood, the place the group voted closely in opposition to them, the mayor overruled that call and went forward with the plan anyway.

    “We predict security needs to be a precedence; we will by no means sacrifice security for comfort or something like that,” mentioned Kite.

    And there are classes for different cities struggling to make Imaginative and prescient Zero a actuality, she says: Have loads of instruments prepared and understand that nobody answer or template will work in all places.

    “It is received to be a mixture of issues,” she mentioned. “You have to have a extremely sturdy crew at all times taking a look at what is going on on, wanting on the knowledge, and ensuring what you are doing is grounded in proof.

    “And [then] combining totally different methods into this one image of security.”



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