UPPER EAST SIDE, NY – Traffic accidents on the Upper East Side are set to exceed last year’s total, city data shows, confirming concerns that New York streets have become less safe despite the city’s efforts.
So far in 2021, 232 people have been injured in crashes on the Upper East Side – a total that will easily exceed last year’s figure of 248 if the trend continues. At least two people were killed: a 64-year-old woman who was struck by a delivery van as she crossed Madison Avenue in March, and an 81-year-old woman who was struck by a school bus driver in East 72nd Street Last week.
In all five boroughs, road deaths have risen this year to nearly 200 people, their highest level since 2013. Safe streets advocates blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying his ambitious Vision Zero program was a long way off achieve its goal of ending all fatal traffic accidents.
On the Upper East Side, most of those injured in crashes this year were drivers, who made up 53% of the total. They are followed by pedestrians and cyclists, tied with 48 injured each, or about 20 percent of the overall figure.
A number of explanations have been put forward for the troubling trends, including the addition of more than 120,000 new vehicles to the streets of New York as car purchases have increased during the pandemic. Reckless driving has also increased, authorities note, while advocates say the city has done a poor job of expanding its network of cycle paths and pedestrian spaces.
Some Upper East Side trends are more encouraging: The number of pedestrian injuries is on track to be lower than last year’s total of 81, and well below the 2019 and 2018 totals, when well over 100 marchers were injured.
Police enforcement of traffic violations has dropped sharply. Until August, when this year’s most recent data was available, the 19th District of the Upper East Side had issued just over 3,000 moving violations. In contrast, in 2019 and 2018, the enclosure issued more than 8,900 and 7,200 tickets, respectively, during the same difficult period.
Categories with marked declines include red light violations (438 this year versus 931 in 2019), inappropriate turns (753 in 2021, 3,929 in 2019) and refusal to yield to pedestrians (370 in 2021, 611 in 2019). ).
At a recent Upper West Side community meeting, residents spoke about similar trends seen in that neighborhood, begging a local speaker to step up law enforcement.
“We are afraid to be on the streets,” said Steve Anderson, chairman of a local coalition of block associations, according to West Side Rag. “We don’t need to wait years for changes to be made.”