De Blasio Defends Vision Zero Despite Rash of Deaths

NEW YORK (AP) -

Three people, including a child, killed by a car that plowed into a group of holiday revelers. An 84-year-old woman run over by a charter bus that never stopped. A grandmother struck by a taxi driver finishing a 16-hour shift.

In the past two weeks, vehicle-related incidents across New York City have claimed 12 lives, a figure that has generated headlines and some criticism of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious traffic safety agenda. But the mayor defended his Vision Zero plan Monday, saying that while any deaths are a cause for mourning and concern, the city’s streets are safer than they have ever been.

“Vision Zero is working,” said de Blasio, who touted last year’s number of pedestrian deaths as the lowest in a century. “This has just begun. This is an effort that is just over a year old and is already yielding real results.”

City officials said 192 people, including 107 pedestrians, have been killed this year through Sunday. Last year during that same period, there were 226 fatalities, including 119 pedestrians. And in 2013, the year before de Blasio took office and enacted Vision Zero, there were 237 fatalities, including 140 pedestrians.

In the latest traffic fatality, a 50-year-old pedestrian was killed and two other people, including a young child, were injured when a car jumped a curb on Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue and flipped over onto a sidewalk.

A key component of Vision Zero — a traffic plan originated in Sweden in the late 1990s with the audacious goal of reducing the number of traffic fatalities to zero — is stepped-up enforcement of traffic regulations. Police Chief William Bratton said Monday that police issued 12,000 more speeding tickets than a year ago. He attributed the rash of deaths to a random statistical “spike.”