A Round and a Roundy: The Only Chart Dave Chokshi Needs

Cartoon: Bill Roundy
Cartoon: Bill Roundy

We are in the middle of a public health crisis.

Data: DOT
Data: DOT

More people have been killed on the roads in New York City so far this year than in any previous period since Mayor de Blasio took office and launched his Vision Zero initiative (see chart below). And a larger share of pedestrians are being killed by the drivers of super-large cars — SUVs and other assault weapons — than in previous years (see chart, right).

That includes two 2-year-old girls who were run down by SUV drivers within five days of each other last month because the drivers of the Ford Behemoths couldn’t see them.

That’s why our national treasure cartoonist Bill Roundy focused this week’s artitorial on the rising death toll from America’s increasing obsession with big cars.

We have consistently asked the Health Department what it is doing about this public health crisis and have heard mostly crickets. We asked Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi about it again on Tuesday, and his answer was a classic “thoughts and prayers” take.

Chart: DOT
Chart: DOT

“The recent crashes are all just truly heartbreaking and tragic incidents, and certainly my heart is with the families and the loved ones of, you know, those young children whose lives were cut short far too early,” he said. “There’s trauma associated with those incidents, which is also heartbreaking.”

He didn’t bother answering the substantive part of our question, which mentioned the DOT’s analysis of the 50-percent rise in pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs, and that the Health Department has not analyzed pedestrian deaths since 2014, and even the agency’s review of automobile traffic has not been updated since 2009.

Maybe the city’s top doctor is simply laser focused on Covid-19. But car drivers are doing far more lasting damage to our city every day, so perhaps it’s time to get back to the real public health crisis. A Health Commissioner shouldn’t stand for so much carnage, whether it’s caused by a microbe, a gun or a car driver.

All of Bill Roundy’s cartoons are archived here.

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