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Brooklyn takes top spot amid deadliest year on roads: Report

child holding sign that says "fix our streets" at mcguinness boulevard
Young and old rallied for a safer McGuinness Boulevard at McGolrick Park on May 27.
Photo by Dean Moses

More New Yorkers died in crashes in 2021 than in any other year of the former-Mayor Bill de Blasio administration, data collected by street safety advocates reveal.

A record 273 people were killed on the streets of the Big Apple last year, according to the groups Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, marking a morbid ending to de Blasio’s signature Vision Zero initiative he launched at the start of his mayoralty to reduce road fatalities to zero.

“We cannot let another year go by with traffic violence killing a record number of New Yorkers,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris in a statement Wednesday. “Our leaders must use every tool available to address this preventable public health crisis.”

The number of people killed in crashes was up from 243 in 2020, 220 in 2019, and 206 in 2018, the safest year on Gotham’s streets in recent history, and the number of hit-and-runs doubled since 2018.

However, the latest figures are still lower than the 299 people killed in 2013 during then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s final year in office.  

Last year was repeatedly on pace to be the deadliest since de Blasio came into office in 2014 and adopted his street safety policy eight years ago, but the numbers of deaths and injuries started trending up in 2019 and crashes surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Critical hit-and-run crashes by quarter from 2018-2021.Transportation Alternatives/Families for Safe Streets

Last year’s tragic tally includes 124 pedestrians killed, 50 motorcyclists, 19 cyclists, and 15 people on mopeds and e-bikes. Some 42 percent of pedestrian fatalities were caused by drivers of SUVs during de Blasio’s second term in office and the large cars make up 60 percent of all personally-owned vehicles in the city, according to data from the Department of Motor Vehicles

Brooklyn had the most deaths of any of the Five Boroughs at 80 people who lost their lives, and the Bronx saw more cyclists killed during 2020 and 2021 than during any time from 2012-2019.

Local hotspots for traffic violence include southeast Queens, the South Bronx, southwest Brooklyn, and the middle of Staten Island.

One of the most shocking cases seared into New Yorkers’ memory last year was a reckless driver who mowed down toddler Apolline Mong-Guillemin and injured her mother and a man in brownstone Brooklyn on Sept. 11.

A heat map shows traffic deaths were concentrated in southeast Queens, the South Bronx, southwest Brooklyn, and the middle of Staten Island.Transportation Alternatives/Families for Safe Streets

Under the Mayor Eric Adams administration, the new Department of Transportation Commissioner vowed to make half of all plastic-lined bike lanes better protected and to redesign 1,000 city intersections where many of the fatal collisions happen.

“Last year was a difficult one for Vision Zero, and this year has gotten off to a difficult start, with a number of traffic fatalities, many of them at intersections,” said Rodriguez in a statement with the data’s release. “We remain relentlessly committed to safer streets, and we will continue to work with our advocate partners to truly save lives and reverse the terrible national fatality trends here in New York City.”

The advocates called on Adams to quickly implement their past proposal to give a quarter of the city’s streetscape to cyclists and buses and strengthen the city’s so-called Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program to more easily impound cars owned by serial reckless drivers.

The new year has already begun with regular lethal crashes, including two deaths uptown and a critical injury on north Brooklyn’s McGuinness Boulevard on Monday alone, the latter of which is a notorious speedway de Blasio had promised to fix

In a statement, Mayor Eric Adams’ spokesperson Charles Lutvak said, “This cannot and will not continue. We have a plan to make our streets safer across the city, and we are putting it into action.”

Former Mayor de Blasio did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

This story first appeared on amNewYork.

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