Given the excessive expense of owning and operating a car in New York City - not to mention the sometimes congestive traffic - countless New Yorkers turn to bicycles, and in some cases, simply walking, in order to get around the Big Apple.
In an effort to promote and increase safety in these modes of transportation, the New York City Transportation Department has implemented various measures in recent years - measures such as more bike lanes, pedestrian plazas and wider crosswalks in certain locations.
These initiatives were intended to not only increase safety for pedestrians and cyclists, but also motorists who share the city streets with them. Unfortunately these efforts to improve safety and reduce New York City traffic accidents appear to have been in vain given a recent report that detected a spike in traffic deaths.
New York City Traffic Fatalities
The report, known as the Mayor's Management Report, discovered that traffic deaths increased in New York for the first time since 2007. Specifically, fatalities increased 23 percent during a period from July 2011 through June 2012, when compared to the same period the previous year. This increase represented 291 traffic fatalities, as opposed to 236 during the prior period.
Of the 291 deaths, 176 involved cyclists or pedestrians that were killed in traffic accidents, compared to only 158 during the prior year. The remaining fatalities involved motorists and other motor-vehicle occupants - which also represented a large spike from 78 fatalities during the prior period to 115 deaths this period.
When discussing the prominent reasons for many of the motorist and passenger deaths, the Mayor's Management Report cited drunk driving, speeding and running stop signs or red lights as the causes of roughly 54 percent of the fatalities.
As for the increase in pedestrian and cyclist deaths, many public safety groups found the numbers particularly concerning. In fact, Paul Steely White, the executive director of a group supporting pedestrian and bicycle transportation known as Transportation Alternative, told the New York Times that he found the numbers "alarming."
Believing much of the increase in deaths could be accounted for by a lack of police enforcement of traffic laws, White told the New York Times, "Anyone who walks or bikes across a New York City street knows that motorists are getting away with reckless driving, day in, day out."
Hopefully this recent increase in traffic fatalities is a wake-up call for New York officials. Tragically however, fatalities will continue to occur no matter the number of traffic initiatives undertaken by city officials. If you have been injured as a result of a negligent motorist, regardless of whether you were another motorist, cyclist or pedestrian, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to be advised of your rights and options.