Evening in Stockholm

The streets of New York City are getting a Scandinavian makeover to be safer for pedestrians. Mayor Bill De Blasio has taken inspiration from Sweden's Vision Zero law, which has as it's goal the eradication of roadway deaths. He is bringing many of its concepts to the Big Apple.

Sweden's 1997 law stipulates that no one is should die in an accident on the country's roads, and the government should do whatever it can to make things safer. Its methods have been drastic, but they have worked. While some streets in Stockholm now have speed limits below 20 miles per hour, the country boasts the lowest rate of traffic deaths in the world. According to The New York Times, 264 people died on the highways in all of Sweden last year, compared to 290 in just New York City. The road mortality rate in Stockholm is about a third of NYC.

De Blasio created his own Vision Zero Action Plan in February with 2024 as a goal to eradicate traffic deaths, and he is consulting with Swedes on how to do it. The first portions of the plan are already going into effect. According to NYT, new rules are slowing vehicles in some areas to 25 mph, down from 30 mph. There are also 120 new speed cameras going up around schools in the city. Police will also be enforcing speeding more. The next steps may be putting data recorders in taxis, widening parking lanes and a possible congestion charge in certain parts of the metropolis.

While the complete eradication of deaths may never be possible, it seems like an admirable goal. New York's streets were already on the road to being safer. According to the NYT, traffic deaths have fallen 26 percent since 2001. De Blasio's plan hopes to accelerate that decline. Manhattan may never have the old-world charm of Stockholm, but its avenues could be just as safe.