Season of death: 2021 was most fatal summer on New York City streets under Mayor de Blasio, according to report

Protesters set up a vigil with 'ghost strollers' for the three-month-old killed by a driver in Brooklyn, at Union Square on Sept. 14, 2021.
Photo Kevin Duggan

This summer was the deadliest on the city’s roads under the Mayor Bill de Blasio administration, and 2021 continues en route to have more traffic deaths than any other year during his tenure, according to a new analysis by street safety advocacy groups Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets released Wednesday.

“With fatal crashes reaching record levels under his term, Mayor de Blasio has squandered the success he achieved on street safety,” said Transportation Alternatives executive director Danny Harris in a statement on Oct. 6. “New Yorkers need a mayor who can prevent cars from killing babies in strollers and essential workers on bikes.”

The study found that 77 people died between June–August, 2021, more than other any year during that time period since de Blasio took office in 2014 and instituted Vision Zero as official city policy.

The number is not far above previous summers since 2014, for example, deaths previously peaked at 73 in the summer of 2016, before dropping to 51 in 2018 and increasing again every year since.

Summer traffic deaths during the de Blasio administration.Transportation Alternatives/Families for Safe Streets

2018 was also the city’s all-time low for traffic deaths at 202 people killed that year, a steep drop from 701 in 1990, and 381 in 2000.

But the numbers have crept back up in the last three years and 2021 remains on track to have the highest death count in the de Blasio era, as 199 people died in traffic violence during the first nine months through September, more than any other first-nine-month period since 2014.

This continues a trend from a previous TransAlt analysis, which found that the first six months of 2021 were also the deadliest such time period on the Big Apple’s roads of any year since 2014.

On Oct. 2 New York City surpassed the grim milestone of 200 road deaths, the earliest point in the year to do so under de Blasio, and drivers have killed more than 1,800 people total during his two terms in City Hall.

Brooklyn saw record-breaking crash deaths in the summer at 23 fatalities, and for the first nine months at 63 people killed. The latter figure is higher than deaths in that borough for the full years of 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2020.

There have also been more pedestrian deaths in Kings County so far than during all of 2017 and 2020.

The advocates attribute the local jump in fatal crashes in part to a 25% increase in SUVs in the borough, according to a past study by TransAlt.

Brooklyn was the site of a particularly tragic collision last month where a driver crashed into a family killing a three-month-old baby girl and severely injuring her mom.

When asked about his Vision Zero legacy last week, de Blasio blamed the troubling increase on the COVID-19 pandemic and described the last two years as “aberrant.”

“It’s an extraordinary success that’s been, unfortunately, upended by two years of aberrant reality from a global pandemic,” hizzoner said during a Sept. 30 press briefing. “So, we’re going to get it back on track. We’re going to save a lot of lives and over time, I think we can get to a very, very different place by really consistently applying the Vision Zero principles.”

A mayoral spokesperson declined to provide a comment on the new report, instead referring back to that and other statements the mayor made in recent weeks.

“The mayor has addressed this repeatedly – you can pull from any one of the several times in the last month or so he has spoken directly to this,” Mitch Schwartz said in an email.

This article appears courtesy of our sister publication amNewYork

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