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Vision Zero Epicenters: 5 Dangerous Neighborhoods that Should Be on Eric Adams’s Agenda

Vision Zero in 2021. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Vision Zero lost its way in 2021. Can Eric Adams get it back?

Through Dec. 29, 120 pedestrians, 19 cyclists, 63 motorists or motor vehicle occupants, and 64 moped, motorcycle or scooter riders were killed — the most total fatalities over the same period since 2013.

Injuries in crashes are also at catastrophic levels: In 2021, there were roughly 109,000 reported crashes (roughly 300 per day), injuring 48,856 people — 4,894 cyclists, 7,340 pedestrians and 36,622 motorists, many of them severely. The total number of injured people is up nearly 10 percent from last year.

Here are the neighborhoods (defined here) where it needs to be most put back on track (one caveat: the list below includes all reported crashes that had location data. Roughly 9 percent of crashes in the city's database did not have usable crash locations):

East New York

This is a first-place finish that no one wants: East New York had the most overall crashes of any neighborhood in the city — by far. This year, 3,101 crashes were reported, an average of 8.6 per day.

Three pedestrians were killed in the area this year, and another 174 were injured, making East New York the third-most-dangerous place for pedestrians in the city.

In all, 1,566 people were injured or killed in road crashes in East New York this year — the most of any neighborhood.

We reached out to incoming Council Member Charles Barron, who did not respond. During the campaign, we asked Barron, then an Assembly Member who hoped to succeed his Council Member wife, about how dangerous the neighborhood is for cyclists and pedestrians, but he did not see road safety as a top priority.

“No one comes into my office, and no one has come into my wife’s office, and said, ‘We need protected bike lanes!’" he said.

But on Thursday, days before he succeeds his wife, Barron said, "Of course we have to make the community safe and make sure the community gets what other communities get."

He then put the retiring Council member on the phone, and she claimed that the neighborhood's appearance on the "worst" list was deceptive because of the increase in crashes due to the Covid epidemic. She said she has been responsive to street safety issues and supported DOT's efforts to add pedestrian islands and bumpouts on Linden Boulevard, though she complained that drivers still speed on Flatlands Avenue.

East Flatbush

After East New York, East Flatbush had the most total crashes — 2,418, or almost seven per day.

The neighborhood also had the fourth-most injuries and fatalities to pedestrians, in a tie with two other neighborhoods with 169. In all, 1,381 people were injured or killed in the neighborhood this year, also just beyond East New York.

New Council Member Rita Joseph, who succeeded the term-limited Matthieu Eugene, has spent the last few months talking up the need for more street safety improvements.

“The number of transportation deaths and crashes in New York City and East Flatbush is absolutely heartbreaking," she told Streetsblog. "I know that we can and must do better as a city. I’m looking forward to working with Mayor Adams, the DOT, advocacy groups, and my colleagues in the Council to find real, people-centered solutions that will make our streets safe for all of our neighbors.”

Bedford-Stuyvesant

This central Brooklyn neighborhood had the third-most crashes last year, with 2,414. And with 162 cyclist injuries and fatalities, it ranks as the third most-dangerous place for two-wheelers (after Harlem and Williamsburg).

And with 1,174 total injuries and fatalities, Bed-Stuy is third on the city's notorious list.

We reached out to incoming Council Member Chi Ossé, who promised a general commitment to fixing the problem.

"Transformative change in street safety is the direction that the city is peddling towards," he said on Sunday. "We have a bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge, we have a mayor that biked to work today, and approximately 800,000 New Yorkers use bikes as their primary medium of transportation.

"We would be doing a disservice to the people of New York if we did not expand safe corridors and engage our communities in bike safety," he said.

His neighborhood has no protected bike lanes. Yet.

"A safe bike lane on Bedford Avenue" is needed, Ossé added. "However, Central Brooklyn as a whole needs safer biking infrastructure."

Williamsburg

The hippest neighborhood in Brooklyn is also one of the most dangerous. With 2,326 total crashes — more than six per day — this somewhat large zone north of Flushing Avenue and south of McCarren Park had the fourth-most in the city.

In addition, it tied for fourth for most pedestrian injuries and fatalities (169) and was second-worst for cyclist injuries and fatalities (189).

We reached out to incoming Council Members Lincoln Restler and Jen Gutierrez, both of whom have a big part of the neighborhood in their districts. Only Restler got back to us.

"We need to put Vision Zero on steroids to prevent these tragic, avoidable deaths in Williamsburg and across our city," he said. "We know what it takes to save lives and I will be fighting for a comprehensive network of protected bike lanes and real safety interventions at dangerous intersections to help Brooklynites walk and bike around their community."

Jamaica

This eastern Queens mini-city had the fifth-highest numbers of total reported crashes in 2021 with 2,272, or more than six per day.

It also was in that three-way tie for the fourth-most-dangerous neighborhood for pedestrians, with 169 injuries or fatalities this year. Jamaica was also fourth on the list of total injuries and fatalities, with 1,110.

When we spoke to incoming Council Member Nantasha Williams just after he election, she said her top priority for the district was to beef up subway and Long Island Rail Road service. But on Sunday, the newly sworn-in lawmaker told Streetsblog that constituents want safe streets, too.

"I spoke to a lot of people during the campaign and the number one complaint I heard was about speeding in the district," she said. "And people complained about the bureaucracy about getting a stop sign. We should streamline that process. It's not transparent. We have many streets in my district that are wide and known speedways. They need to be redesigned to decrease the likelihood of speeding."

She singled out Cambria Heights and Queens Village as areas where wide roadways encourage fast driving. She also said there should be more bike lanes in the district, mentioning 99th Avenue (alongside the LIRR tracks) and Downtown Jamaica as important locations.

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