City Numbers Show Highest Cyclist Death Toll in Eight Years

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Traffic fatalities in 2007 were at their lowest level since the city began keeping records almost 100 years ago, according to data released today by the Bloomberg administration. However, while the number of pedestrian fatalities last year dropped sharply percentage-wise from 2006, down to roughly one death every two-and-a-half days, cyclist fatalities were up, and pedestrian and cyclist deaths combined accounted for 58.6 percent of the 271 total traffic deaths, the highest such percentage in the past eight years.

According to the city chart above, 136 city pedestrians died after being struck by vehicles last year, down from 167 in 2006; 23 cyclists were killed, up from 18 the year before, and marking the highest official cyclist death toll since 2000.

Unknown are the number of pedestrian and cyclist injuries. Last year DOT representatives said the agency was compiling the city’s first-ever comprehensive study of pedestrian injuries and deaths, which was to be completed by the end of 2007; as of this writing Streetsblog has a call in to the agency in hopes of getting an update on the study.

Another relevant but unknown figure is the number of drivers involved in serious and fatal crashes who were charged with anything more than failure to yield.

In a media release today, Mayor Bloomberg said, "We consider safer streets for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers a matter of public health — like smoking or obesity — that deserves our full attention. And while the final 2007 traffic fatality statistics were nothing short of incredible, we will continue to find new ways to bring them down even more."

The mayor’s remarks were made at a presser held at Brighton Beach, where he and DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the "Safe Routes for Seniors" program, aimed at reducing the disproportionately high percentage of senior citizens killed by motorists. To that end, DOT says it has retimed lights and pedestrian signals in Brighton Beach, and will improve pedestrian islands, curbs and sidewalks, narrow roadways and reduce the number travel lanes, and move stop bars further away from crosswalks. Such measures will "soon" follow in four other neighborhoods — the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Fordham/University Heights in the Bronx, Flushing/Murray Hill and Queens, and New Dorp/Hylan Boulevard on Staten Island — followed by twenty additional locations.

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