About 130 pedestrians died in New York City traffic accidents last year, the lowest number since the city began keeping such records 100 years ago. Overall, traffic fatalities in the city fell to about 250, down from 300 in 2013.
The news comes less than a year after Mayor Bill DeBlasio declared traffic deaths unacceptable and announced that he would put the “full weight of city government” behind an effort to stem the deaths. Since then, the mayor has pushed through a slew of new laws designed to make the streets safer, including a reduction in the default speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour. The New York Police Department (NYPD) has also stepped up enforcement of existing traffic laws. The number of speeding summonses increased by 42% and the number for failure to yield to a pedestrian increased by 126%.
“There is no question we are moving this city in the right direction, thanks to stepped up enforcement by the NYPD, strong traffic safety measures by the Department of Transportation, new laws passed by our legislators and the work of New Yorkers fighting for change,” DeBlasio said in a statement.
The decline in traffic fatalities was not consistent across all methods of transportation; the number of bicyclists who died in traffic accidents in 2014 increased to 20 from 12 the previous year.
DeBlasio’s traffic safety push, called Vision Zero, follows principles developed by a Swedish campaign of the same name. The Scandinavian country’s investment in infrastructure, technology and enforcement has cut traffic deaths in half since the beginning of the initiative.
While the movement has spread around the globe, New York has been among the most enthusiastic adopters in the United States and transportation advocates say they’re hopeful that the city’s success will lead the movement to spread.
Paul Steely White, Executive Director of New York-based Transportation Alternatives, told TIME late last year that he was pleasantly surprised by the speed of change in New York
“We’re having this very special moment in New York City public policy,” he said. “All eyes are on New York right now to see if we can tame our infamously mean streets.”
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