Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan is an effort to bring down the number of people killed on New York City’s streets each year. In 2013, there were 300 traffic fatalities in the city. Vision Zero is credited with bringing that down to 203, one of the lowest totals in a century. Unfortunately, traffic deaths were at 221 last year and things aren’t looking great this year.
According to the New York Times, over 20 pedestrians have already been killed this year on New York City streets.
On Tuesday, Feb. 25, the victim was a 10-year-old girl who had been walking to school. An empty school bus was making a right-hand turn at about 6:30 that morning when it struck the girl near the intersection of Crescent Street and Wortman Avenue in East New York. It was a four-way stop on a relatively quiet road in the early morning; nothing anyone would expect to be dangerous.
When the parents arrived on the scene, they became hysterical. A witness said that emergency workers had to hold back the father, who was cursing and seemed ready to kill the bus driver.
The bus driver remained at the scene as is required by law. He was taken into custody, but no criminal charges were immediately filed. The driver will be tested for alcohol and drugs and put on suspension during an internal investigation by the Department of Education.
Is Vision Zero having an effect?
Yes, but it may not be enough. So far, the city has lowered the speed limit on most streets to 25 mph. More speed cameras have been added throughout the city, and some traffic signals now give pedestrians a head start at the crosswalk.
Some critics, however, say that the Vision Zero program hasn’t gone far enough to prevent fatalities like that of the 10-year-old girl killed in Brooklyn.
“We know what it takes to prevent these deaths, but our leaders have slow-rolled the cure,” said the executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Mayor de Blasio says he wants to save our city, but he will fail if he is unable to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Neighbors in the East New York neighborhood say that school buses, city buses and garbage trucks routinely ignore the stop signs at Crescent and Wortman.
“The thing is, around here they never stop,” said a woman who lives next to the intersection.
It is simply baffling that a school bus driver would fail to check for pedestrians at a four-way stop. Without further information, we can’t know what happened in this instance, but it does seem to indicate a shocking lack of care.
Can Vision Zero convince drivers to take more care?