OneNYC 2050 : Volume 8 of 9 : Efficient Mobility

Ensure New York City’s streets are safe and accessible

New York City’s streets must be safe and prioritize the use of sustainable modes. The streets are public spaces in their own right—not just places to store vehicles or travel through in a car. Launched in 2014, Vision Zero is New York City’s traffic safety program based on two key principles: crashes are preventable, and there is no acceptable level of death or serious injury on our streets. The program, now in its sixth year, has resulted in fewer road deaths every year since it was established, reaching its lowest level ever in 2018. The City will achieve Vision Zero through a combination of education, enforcement, and engineering, including expanding bike lanes and implementing pedestrian priority areas. Additionally, the City will ensure that its streetscape is accessible for all New Yorkers, including those with mobility disabilities.
Implement The Vision Zero Action Plan

The initial 2015 Vision Zero Action Plan laid the groundwork for how New York City approaches pedestrian and cyclist safety and mobility. That plan designated Priority Intersections, Corridors, and Areas based on pedestrians killed or serious injured (KSI) data and community input. By the end of year five of Vision Zero, DOT had addressed 90 percent of Priority Intersections and 86 percent of Priority Corridor miles with design and engineering treatments, contributing to a 36 percent drop in pedestrian deaths at those locations.

In 2019, DOT reevaluated pedestrian KSI data, demonstrating marked safety improvements in high-priority locations and defining new locations for intervention. The City will continue to execute the fundamentals of the Action Plan, and build on past accomplishments by focusing on reducing speeding and making turns safer.

Photograph of pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements in Long Island City, Queens

Pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements in Long Island City, Queens

  • Implement at least 50 Vision Zero safety engineering improvements annually AT the updated locations citywide
    DOT will continue its program of street redesigns, focusing on locations with the highest level of pedestrian deaths and serious injuries, guided by the new priority maps and updated Borough Pedestrian Safety Action Plans. This includes designs known to work (such as protected bike lanes, curb extensions, and left-turn traffic-calming tactics) and newer designs that show promise, such as roundabouts and traffic circles, raised crosswalks, and chicanes.
  • Add exclusive pedestrian crossing time and modify signal timing in Priority Corridors
    DOT will add a leading pedestrian interval, which gives pedestrians exclusive time to cross, at every feasible intersection in new Priority Corridors. The agency will also modify signal timing to help keep motor vehicles moving at or below the speed limit.
  • Prioritize targeted enforcement and outreach on Priority Corridors, Intersections, and Areas
    The driving  violations that are most likely to kill or seriously injure pedestrians include speeding, failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians, using a cell phone or texting, disobeying red lights or stop signs, and making improper turns. To systematically enforce, and increase awareness of, traffic safety issues at the highest injury Priority Corridors, Intersections, and Areas across New York City, NYPD and DOT are improving their successful High Visibility Enforcement Program.
  • Keep seniors safe on city streets through engineering interventions and targeted outreach
    Although seniors 65 years old and over make up only 13 percent of New York City’s population, they represent nearly half of annual pedestrian fatalities. To address this disparity, DOT is undertaking a comprehensive study of senior pedestrian fatalities and injuries, investigating crash locations, types, and severity outcomes. The study will identify systematic engineering interventions, along with new channels and methods for delivering traffic safety messages with seniors in mind.
DOT’s Vision Zero program uses detailed crash and injury data to identify Priority Corridors, Intersections, and Areas for improvement. DOT has already completed nearly 500 safety improvement projects since 2014.

Vision Zero Priority Corridors and Safety Improvement Projects

Map of DOT's Vision Zero program uses detailed crash and injury data to identify Priority Corridors, Intersections, and Areas for improvement. DOT has already completed nearly 500 safety improvement projects since 2014.

Source: DOT

Transform dangerous arterial roads into Vision Zero Great Streets

In the past, several major arterial roads have gained a notorious reputation for their high numbers of crashes and for not accommodating pedestrians or cyclists. The Vision Zero Great Streets initiative aims to turn roads known for dividing neighborhoods and inaccessibility into safe and thriving community connectors, adding bike lanes, pedestrian islands, and other safety elements.

Great Streets invested in four major reconstruction projects—Queens Boulevard, Fourth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, and Grand Concourse in the Bronx—with operational  safety improvements followed by more permanent capital construction. DOT is looking to expand the Great Streets program to target other dangerous arterial roads, including Northern Boulevard in Queens.

Under Vision Zero, 2018 was the safest year on record, with the fewest New Yorkers lost on city roadways since record keeping began in 1910.

Bar graph displaying traffic fatalities over time in NYC.Source: DOT

Reduce Fatalities And Serious Injuries Involving Fleets Managed Or Regulated By City Agencies

Under Vision Zero, the City’s role administering our own municipal fleet and regulating FHVs and private sanitation trucks provides the opportunity to demonstrate best practices for safe driving. Each agency has devised training plans, new rules, and procurement programs, and are all actively working toward ensuring their drivers and vehicles model the high standards demanded by Vision Zero.

  • Continue to implement the Safe Fleet Transition Plan
    The Safe Fleet Transition Plan guides the upgrades the City must make to its fleet of more than 30,000 vehicles, managed by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), to ensure state-of-the-art safety features become standard. Because larger vehicles tend to cause more serious harm in crashes, DCAS will continue to work toward ensuring all City fleet trucks are equipped with side guards, high-vision cabs, and other necessary equipment.
  • Reform commercial waste hauling
    With the inception of Vision Zero, the City’s Business Integrity Commission (BIC) is working with City Council on legislation that would allow it to hold private carting companies and their drivers accountable for failing to comply with regulations related to traffic safety. Specifically, BIC seeks the ability to deny applications of companies and/or drivers who demonstrate unsafe practices (including excessive work hours or failure to maintain equipment), and the ability to license drivers to operate within New York City.
  • Provide Vision Zero training to for-hire vehicle drivers
    The Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) provides a 24-hour pre-licensure course to taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers to educate them on street design changes such as protected bike lanes, high-risk driving behaviors that lead to crashes, and the important role professional drivers play in promoting a culture of safe driving. In 2018 alone, over 27,000 drivers licensed by TLC took this course. TLC plans to develop a Vision Zero course that will be required every three years for license renewal.



Photograph of a NYC city street.

Pedestrian plaza at Myrtle and Wyckoff Avenues helped reduce traffic injuries while providing valuable public space to residents.

For many years, the six-legged intersection at Myrtle Avenue, Wyckoff Avenue, and Palmetto Street, on the border of Queens and Brooklyn underneath the elevated tracks at Myrtle-Wyckoff Station, had been the site of multiple pedestrian fatalities, and was notoriously difficult to cross. Following intensive planning and community consultation, DOT’s in-house crews created a plaza on Wyckoff Avenue between Gates Avenue and Myrtle Avenue, and converted the section of Wyckoff between Myrtle and Madison Street into one-way southbound traffic. They also widened crosswalks, painted sidewalk extensions, installed flexible bollards, reconfigured signal timing to increase pedestrian crossing times, installed new traffic control and curb-regulation signage, and painted new road markings. The result was a 48 percent decrease in crashes with injuries, and a valuable new public space linking the neighborhood with a transportation hub. These improvements will be made permanent as part of the reconstruction of Wyckoff Avenue, scheduled to begin in 2020.

DOT is prioritizing expanding bicycle infrastructure in areas that have high KSI rates but low or medium bicycle network coverage.

Map of bicycle networks in NYC.

Source: DOT

Expand And Increase Connectivity Of The Bike Network

Bicycles represent a significant opportunity to expand mobility options at a relatively low cost, while helping to meet sustainability goals. Making it safer, easier, and more convenient to bicycle throughout the city helps reduce congestion and air pollution, while improving overall traffic safety and public health.

Over the past decade, annual bicycle trips have increased nearly 150 percent, far faster than population or employment growth. In 2017, there were an estimated half million bicycle trips per day. Cycling in New York City has become safer as more and more people choose this mode of transport—and is evidence of a “safety in numbers” effect.

To facilitate further growth, the City will expand and improve bike lanes and bike sharing. Well-designed bike lanes not only protect cyclists, but also organize and calm traffic. In addition, the islands created by the installation of protected bike-lanes assist pedestrians by shortening street-crossing distances.

  • Enable greater access to the bike network for New Yorkers
    For more New Yorkers to choose cycling as a transportation option, they must have access to safe places to ride. DOT will continue to build out its bicycle network, installing at least 50 miles of bike lanes—including 10 miles of protected bike lanes—per year, and facilitate the expansion of bike-share programs to more neighborhoods. The City is committed to ensuring 90 percent of New Yorkers live within a two-minute (¼ mile) ride of the bike network by 2022, up from 80 percent in 2016, and ultimately 95 percent in the future.
  • Create or enhance bicycle lanes in Priority Bicycle Districts
    The City will prioritize building bike infrastructure in the ten community districts where cyclist deaths and serious injuries are disproportionately high and bike-network mileage is relatively low. These neighborhoods, which are home to 23 percent of serious crashes, but only 14 percent of bicycle lanes, have been designated Priority Bicycle Districts, and will receive 75 miles of new or enhanced bike lanes by 2022.
  • Extend Greenways
    The City will continue to build a connected network of greenway paths for cycling, including the Jamaica Bay Greenway and the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, and the Manhattan circumferential greenway network. DOT will also study the feasibility of an Eastern Queens Greenway. High-quality cycling infrastructure will increase cycling as both a mode of transportation and a recreational activity, and bring with it associated mobility safety and health benefits.
  • Expand Citi Bike and dockless bike-share networks
    In the next five years, the City will expand its Citi Bike dock-based bike-share system to 40,000 bikes, from 12,000 today, doubling the size of the service area by adding another 35 square miles of coverage. This expansion will also increase the density of coverage in the previously served areas, with more stations and higher service standards. A portion of the fleet will be converted to pedal-assist bicycles, which is likely to make cycling more attractive to a broader population and encourage people to cycle longer distances, but must be done with careful consideration to public safety.The City will also implement new, expanded dockless bike-share pilots in areas of the City not covered by the dock-based system. If successful, and the private companies providing these services remain viable, the City will implement a dockless bike-share program at a large scale outside of the Citi Bike service area.
  • Prioritize public safety when considering legislation related to emerging modes of mobility
    Emerging modes of transportation, such as e-bikes and e-scooters, have the potential to expand mobility options, but come with public safety concerns. With both the City Council and State considering bills to sanction their use, any new legislation should ensure these modes are integrated safely and seamlessly into our existing transit network.
By 2023, Citi Bike will cover almost 70 square miles and plans to have more than 37,000 bicycles, six times more than it had in 2013.

Source: DOT, Citi Bike

By 2023, Citi Bike will cover almost 70 square miles and plans to have more than 37,000 bicycles, six times more than it had in 2013

Increase the number of bike lanes and exclusive bus lanes.
- Resident of Long Island City, Queens
Enhance Walkability And Accessibility

New York City’s walkability is one of its hallmarks, with nearly three out of every 10 trips taken on foot. As demand for pedestrian space increases, the City’s DOT is responding by expanding car-free or car-light “People Priority Streets” that build on successful programs such as pedestrian plazas, shared streets, and expanded sidewalks, by designing streets for people at the corridor and districtwide scale. DOT will also enhance the accessibility of our streetscape for all New Yorkers, with significant capital improvements and new, app-based navigation technologies.

  • Pilot a spectrum of pedestrian zones throughout the City
    Working with the community and stakeholders, the City will pilot People Priority Streets at the neighborhood level, beginning with the phased implementation of improvements in Lower Manhattan. Holistic assessment of a neighborhood or district, particularly with potential vehicle reductions from congestion pricing, will allow DOT to prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists wherever demand is greatest, while still accommodating essential vehicular access. This approach would apply carefully coordinated implementation of successful DOT pedestrian improvements such as time-of-day closures, seasonal streets, shared streets, curb-management strategies, sidewalk expansions, and/or pedestrian plazas. The City will look to the successful models in Barcelona, Oslo, Madrid, and Paris, which have shown remarkable promise in calming and reducing through traffic and improving air quality, while allocating more public space to pedestrians.
  • Increase accessibility of streets and sidewalks, and introduce pedestrian navigation technology
    The streetscape must be made safe and accessible for all people, including those with mobility and vision disabilities. To this end, DOT will continue its efforts to make all sidewalks, pedestrian ramps and spaces, and bus stops accessible. The agency will dramatically expand its pedestrian ramp program, and invest in pedestrian ramp upgrades and new installations citywide.DOT has installed Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) in all five boroughs by collaborating with the disability community on identifying priority corners. DOT will also develop and pilot new, app-based accessible pedestrian navigation technologies and invest in the supporting infrastructure. Internally, DOT will build capacity related to accessibility through training and targeted research, and by providing resources and tools to staff.