Additionally, 114 pedestrians were killed in car crashes last year, compared to 110 the year before.
The uptick in traffic-related deaths signaled that the city’s Vision Zero initiative was not working, and that transportation officials needed to redouble their efforts to keep all users of the streets safe from harm.
That’s why Mayor de Blasio launched his “Green Wave” plan to expand protected bike lanes, increase police enforcement and use signal-timing to allow for smoother rides at intersections. The City Council also passed its streets master plan legislation, and the state finally okayed the expansion of speed cameras in school zones, which advocates fought hard to pass.
In 2020, according to reports, there have been at least 19 cyclist fatalities, a number that is way too high considering how the pandemic slowed activity on New York City streets for months.
One of the most recent tragedies was the death of 31-year-old nurse practitioner Clara Kang, who was leaving NYU Langone Hospital after an evening shift by bike when she collided with a 29-year-old man on a motorcycle.
The incident sent both of them flying from their vehicles, according to the NYPD. The motorcyclist was hospitalized in critical condition, but Kang died from her injuries.
Last week, Sunset Park community members remembered Kang as a hardworking, dedicated and caring friend and frontline worker who chose to work at NYU Langone in the middle of the pandemic. The fact that she survived COVID-19 but died from a preventable crash should enrage us all, especially city officials.
Kang’s fatal incident took place on 3rd Avenue, a deadly roadway that needs to be made safer for all users. It sits under a high-traffic highway, but exists in a community with seniors, children and immigrant families just looking to cross the street.
Their safety should matter just as much as those of motorists, truckers and anyone else traveling along the corridor.
New York City still has more work to do to make its streets safer for everyone, despite the progress we’ve made.