#71 How to Reduce Cyclist and Pedestrian Deaths: Nicole Gelinas

“Vision Zero” is the highly ambitious plan put in place two years ago by New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio. The goal: no traffic deaths by 2024.

America's largest city is nowhere near reducing fatal crashes to zero, but great progress has been made since 1990.  "The good news is that we've gone from 701 deaths back then to an average of 245 deaths a year under the de Blasio Administration," says urban economics and transportation researcher Nicole Gelinas in this "Fix It" episode.

Nicole is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. She writes for City Journal, The Washington Post, LA Times and a bunch of other publications.

In this show we look at why so many pedestrians and bicycle riders are killed on the streets of U.S. cities and what we can learn from safety initiatives in Sweden and elsewhere.

The bad news is that New York is far safer than almost every other American city. 

"You're three times more like to be killed in Atlanta whether you're in a car or walking - and you're two times more likely to be killed in LA," says Nicole.

We also learn the lessons of the Times Square traffic and pedestrian redevelopment initiative and why it turned critics into fans.  During our show Nicole Gelinas unpacks surprising research on the pros and cons of wearing bicycle helmets on busy urban streets. 

Solutions:

  • Data shows that redesigning streets to slow down and calm traffic is the best way to prevent injuries and deaths.
  • Lower speed limits, especially in dense urban areas.
  • Invest in a comprehensive mass transit system, which will reduce crashes and improves the quality of life for city residents.
  • The old adage, safety in numbers is true when it comes to biking in traffic: bicyclists are safer when they ride in a group.
  • Cyclists should always wear lights to make themselves as visible as possible to motorists.