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Morning Spew

Traffic Deaths in NYC Are Surging. Our Lawmakers Are Dithering.

Nine NYC cyclists have died in just four months.

An SUV with a defaced license plate.

A car with a defaced license plate sits on Houston Street (Hell Gate)

Nine years after the City pledged to do more to stop New Yorkers from being killed in crashes, we are in the midst of a shocking surge of traffic violence. 

At least 51 New Yorkers have died in collisions so far this year, an 11 percent increase in the average for this time of year, and if these numbers continue, 2023 will be the worst year for traffic fatalities since 2014.

Among the horrific statistics compiled by Transportation Alternatives in their quarterly report released to Hell Gate today: nine New York City cyclists lost their lives over the first few months of 2023, an all-time high for this time of year, and a staggering figure in its own right given that wintertime generally means fewer collisions between cyclists and drivers. 

And TransAlt's numbers don't even account for the crashes that occurred over the weekend, including an SUV driver whose car has dozens of speeding violations who killed a pedestrian in Queens.

Eric Adams has talked a big game about Vision Zero, and yet his administration has not met their obligations under the Streets Master Plan, a law passed in 2019 that requires the City to meet certain benchmarks for installing safe street designs. Most glaringly, the City was supposed to install 50 miles of protected bike lanes and bus lanes every year—so far they've only installed a total of 20 miles of bike lanes, and just 7 miles of bus lanes. 

The City Council has failed to hold the administration accountable in this area. The chair of the Transportation Committee, Queens Councilmember Selvena Brooks-Powers, has pushed an exceedingly milquetoast set of traffic bills, and continues to believe that unelected community boards should have outsized influence in making decisions about desperately needed street safety improvements. In the district represented by Brooks-Powers (whose name is not on the list of co-sponsors of legislation that would streamline bike lane installation or allow New Yorkers to report vehicles blocking bus and bike lanes), there were six traffic fatalities this quarter, more than any other council district in the city.

Don't expect Albany lawmakers to have a sense of urgency and scale about tackling traffic violence either. Legislation that would actually add points to the licenses of drivers who rack up dozens of speed camera tickets doesn't appear to be going anywhere—these people are still debating whether New York City should be allowed to set its own speed limits.

We don't have to live this way. Other cities have figured out that swiftly implementing common-sense traffic calming measures and reducing vehicle use means fewer of their citizens die needless deaths. But as with the housing crisis, New York's elected officials aren't up to the task. Or maybe they just don't give a shit.

More links for May Day

  • Just a few days after the world learned of his existence, Governor Kathy Hochul's Colorado-based politics-whisperer is no longer working remotelyl (or for her at all).
  • The late-as-hell state budget is finally getting printed, meaning that legislators will get to vote on it today or tomorrow (some of them might actually read it, but don't get your hopes up).
  • Eric Adams may ultimately be benefiting from Albany's continued dysfunction. He's also out on these streets, passing out job applications.
  • As Hell Gate has previously reported, some co-op owners are pissed at how much the climate-saving Local Law 97 is going to cost them.
  • The City has shut down some parking garages they have deemed decrepit after last month's garage collapse downtown that killed one person.
  • Pre-cogs charged with rooting out police misbehavior need some recalibration.
  • Secret penthouse is secret no more.
  • Washington Square Park will host a May Day rally with workers and lawmakers at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, the French have gotten a head start on May Day celebrations.

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