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NYC pedestrian deaths at historic low

Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City

Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg look at Vision Zero illustrations at the intersection of East Tremont Avenue and Silver Street in the Bronx on Jan. 14, 2015. Credit: Charles Eckert

Fewer New York City pedestrians were killed by vehicles in 2014 than in any year since 1910, when modern record-keeping began, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

There were 134 pedestrian deaths last year blamed on traffic in the city of 8.4 million people, under preliminary figures, compared with 180 the year before, and 140 in 2007. The peak of fatalities was in 1929, when 952 pedestrian deaths were recorded.

"Those statistics indicate real lives, real people, real families who are walking the streets today -- people who have a better life because these policies worked," de Blasio said yesterday of last year's improvement.

At a news conference to tout progress of his administration's "Vision Zero" traffic safety push, the mayor attributed the decline to such steps as a lower default speed limit, more speed bumps, redesigned roadways and more.

More than 50 such roadway redesign projects were completed last year, de Blasio and his transportation commissioner, Polly Trottenberg, said after showcasing one of the redesigns, near East Tremont Avenue and Silver Street in the Bronx's Westchester Square.

During 2014, the city overhauled 35 dangerous intersections, redesigned "crash-prone" corridors, such as Richmond Avenue on Staten Island, and added more than five miles of bike lanes physically protected from motor vehicle traffic.

Plans for this year call for at least 50 more roadway improvements, including putting Amsterdam Avenue on what the administration terms a "road diet" -- narrowing or reducing travel lanes to discourage reckless driving -- and revamping Queens Boulevard, which has long been nicknamed the "Boulevard of Death" for the high number of fatalities.

Ideas there include bike lanes, retiming signals and "massive redesigns of the pedestrian infrastructure in the middle," Trottenberg said.

"Queens Boulevard may be, you know, arguably the toughest nut to crack, but we're convinced we can make a huge difference there," de Blasio said.

Not all the figures were historic lows: The number of cyclists killed was 20 last year, compared with 12 the year before.

"We're taking a close look at and trying to do diagnosis about what happened," she said.

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