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Officials: NYC Traffic Deaths Drop To Record Low, Pedestrian Deaths Up

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Critics of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero program say it is not enough to stop traffic deaths.

The Mayor's office touted Wednesday that traffic deaths in New York City declined for the third straight year, dropping to a record low 229 in 2016. But as CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, 10 people have already been struck and killed on city streets just in the opening days of the year.

The crumpled metal of a traffic accident in Brownsville, Brooklyn on Monday told a horrifying tale. A 43-year-old pedestrian was struck and killed while crossing Linden Boulevard.

The victim, Marlon Palacious, was of 10 pedestrians who was struck and killed while crossing the streets of New York in just the first 10 days of 2017.

Also recently killed was 88-year-old Feliks Dadiomov, who was hit by a car at about 9:20 p.m. Tuesday.

Police say Dadiomov was trying to cross Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn against the light.

"That's unacceptable," said Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives. "Mayor de Blasio is not doing enough on Vision Zero. Mayor de Blasio is not doing enough to prevent these senseless tragedies."

But at a news conference at the Foot of the Manhattan Bridge, the Department of Transportation held a news conference touting the success of Vision Zero last year.

DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo said the total number of traffic fatalities in the city last year was "the lowest since record keeping began."

Russo said the drop is directly related to education, enforcement and traffic calming measures, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

"The first three years of Vision Zero, 2014, 15 and 16, were the safest three-year period since record keeping began in 1910," Russo said.

But that is not the whole story, Kramer reported. After two years of major declines, crashes dropped only slightly last year compared with 2015 when there were 234, and pedestrian deaths increased slightly to 144, up from 139 in 2015.

Bicycle deaths rose from 14 to 18.

Kramer asked DOT Director for Strategic Initiatives Juan Martinez about the advocates' concerns – particularly the number of deaths so far in just the past 10 days.

"The city's goal is zero. We're paying attention and we're studying each of these crashes. The NYPD is investigating those crashes," Martinez said. "Our strategy is aimed at preventing those crashes in the future."

But White retorted, "The mayor has not yet dedicated the resources to fix those dangerous streets."

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens), who is running against de Blasio in the Democratic mayoral primary this year, said there were additional problems.

"It's also about speed bumps. It's also about all-way stops. It's also about traffic lights," Avella said.

On Tuesday, Citi Bike announced a new laser light pilot program aimed at improving safety for bicyclists. The company plans to install laser lights that will project the image of a bicycle on the road up to 20 feet ahead of the cyclist -- letting pedestrians, cars, and other vehicles on the road know the bike is sharing the roadway.

The City Council will hold an oversight hearing on Vision Zero at the end of the month. Some expect fireworks.

In a statement on the program, Mayor de Blasio said, "No loss of life on our streets is acceptable."

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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