LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — A traffic safety advocacy group warned Long Island pedestrians to be extra vigilant about their safety when walking during the COVID-19 pandemic. New York’s Coalition for Transportation Safety says that pedestrian deaths have escalated on Long Island since the inception of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Long Island News 12, the Coalition for Transportation Safety indicated that most of the fatal pedestrian accidents have occurred in communities with lower socioeconomic status than more affluent or middle-class neighborhoods. The Coalition for Transportation Safety said that it is incumbent upon people who are out driving amidst the pandemic to slow down, follow all traffic laws, and to keep a close watch out for pedestrians.
Vision Zero quickly gained traction when the Mayor of New York City announced the program in 2014. People responded to the changes implemented with Vision Zero, and the statistics, although far from acceptable, showed the program had promise. According to The Guardian, the number of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. was the highest in 30 years. New York City, conversely, experienced its lowest traffic death toll, which includes motorists, bicycle riders, and pedestrians. However, in 2019, the death toll on New York City streets surged by 30% and erased all of the gains the program made since its inception.
The rapid change of direction calls into question the viability of Vision Zero. Advocates say that the Mayor’s Office is too slow to reconstruct troublesome intersections or to install bicycle-only lanes, along with increasing the number of pedestrian islands in the City.
Critics of the Mayor’s transportation safety plan suggest that the Mayor placated certain groups to the exclusion of others. For example, City Hall railed against bicycle delivery riders in 2019 instead of creating safer places for pedestrians and bike riders. The Mayor’s Office disagrees with prevailing sentiment and argues that the City has made tremendous strides to combat traffic fatalities. Moreover, the City disagreed with the claimed 30 percent increase in fatalities. It said that the exact number represents a ten percent increase.
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