3 More Killed This Weekend as 100 Rally for Pedestrian Safety

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Against the backdrop of news that three more pedestrians were killed on Saturday, a hundred people rallied for pedestrian safety on the steps of City Hall on Sunday. Karla Quintero of Transportation Alternatives, above, started with a moment of silence for those killed by the automobile on the streets of New York and called for 2,000 fewer pedestrian injuries and deaths by 2009 (pdf). Speaking in English and Spanish, she listed five objectives for the improvement of pedestrian safety:

  • Prioritize fixing the most dangerous streets and intersections
  • Adopt a street maintenance policy that prioritizes pedestrian safety measures
  • Eliminate turning conflicts
  • Extra protection for the most vulnerable New Yorkers
  • Criminalize and prosecute traffic fatalities

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Following the policy objectives, three people whose loved ones were recently killed by SUVs on the streets of New York spoke about their grief. (StreetFilms has video of their remarks.) Rachael Myers, above left, whose fiance, Peter Hornbeck, was killed in a 2004 hit-and-run by a speeding SUV driven by a man with a suspended license, spoke of her involvement in Visual Resistance, which is using the image of the hand to mark the location of pedestrian fatalities. "Every time you see one of these memorials," she said, "just remember that one human being died there so that cars could move more efficiently through our neighborhoods."

ped_rally_3.jpgAudrey Anderson, above right, whose son Andre was struck from behind by an SUV and killed in September 2005, spoke passionately about the disparity between someone who kills with a gun and someone who kills with a car. "A motor vehicle is a weapon when used carelessly and recklessly to cause bodily harm to a person," she said. "Why, then, we ask, is this punishment not the same as when one uses a gun to kill another."

She demanded that a rigorous investigation, including the automatic use of a breathalizer test, be conducted after every pedestrian fatality. She also said that drivers who kill should be tracked as carefully as sex offenders, so that they are easier to track down if they kill a second time. (The driver who killed Andre, Jose Vincens, 23, was not charged with any crime nor even issued any motor vehicle infraction, according to the above-linked article in the Rockaway Wave.)

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James St. John, above, wondered why there was so much "push back" against the idea of safety for pedestrians. His grandson, James Rice, 4, was killed last month as he crossed the street (in the crosswalk, with the light) when he was hit by a Hummer making a turn. Again the driver wasn’t charged, even though he left the scene. "We cannot stand by and see our children, our loved ones and others – even tourists that come here – lose their lives," he said. "The city is not doing what they need to do."

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The rally was well attended by the news media. Here are some reports:

Across the street from City Hall, the city’s effort to combat pedestrian fatalities is on display: a DOT-sponsored ad campaign reminding pedestrians to not get run over.

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  • Frank

    1. Where the hell is Mike Bloomberg? Does he care?

    2. That DOT sponsored ad directed at pedestrians makes me so angry I want to explode.

  • T

    Wait til a tourist gets hit, then we’ll see Mikey B.

  • Charlie D.

    Does that ad say “Cars hurt; Stay alert”?! They SHOULD be saying “Drivers please slow down; Don’t mow pedestrians to the ground!”

  • James St. John makes a good point. Where is this “push back” coming from? Middle class drivers in the outer burroughs who resent having to slow down for poor pedestrians around their neighborhoods and the “yuppies” (or whatever they want to call us) walking around trendier hoods? The driving minority in NYC has neither money, numbers, nor ethics on their side; their political demise is just a matter of time.

  • I mean, “outer boroughs,” and yes that probably reflects my knowledge of them.

  • This reflects the concept that the Mayor has expressed many times in different ways, but crystalized when he called cyclists the “lightweights” on the road.

  • Dan

    Are the citizens of this city really losing out to dogmatic traffic engineers or outer borough car enthusiasts? Are these constituencies really preventing the city from saving lives? This is failure of leadership at the top and anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves.

  • Peter J

    As Charles D. noted, that DOT poster showing “Cars Hurt, Stay Alert” is simply victim-blaming. Cloaked in kindness and concern…

  • Orcutt

    T.A., nice job with the event and coverage.

  • rhubarbpie

    Great job — very good visual image. Made a good impact on TV.

    I hope Doc Bennett is correct. However, I think one problem is that “money” is not on our side. The driving culture is led by a number of people (a minority, but still a good number of people, including, unfortunately, many editorial board writers and public officials) who wouldn’t dream of descending onto a subway or, even if they do, still believe that driving around town is a God-given right. And, for a variety of reasons, using cars to get around Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn is, for middle-class people, not considered a luxury given the quality of mass transit and the location of many businesses there.

  • Dormer

    I was deeply alarmed by a study I read recently.

    Here is what I found shocking:

    “The extremely lenient treatment of
    American motorists is documented in Killed by Automobile, an analysis of 1,020 pedestrian and
    bicyclist fatalities in New York City from 1994 to 1997. Using police records, the authors
    found that drivers were largely or strictly culpable in 74% of cases where sufficient
    information existed for culpability coding, and were largely, strictly, or partly culpable in 90% of the known cases. Hit and run, turning into pedestrians at crosswalks, and speeding were the top three driver faults in killing pedestrians and cyclists. Incredibly, the police cited motorists for traffic violations in only one-fourth of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities, although motorists were involved in almost all these fatalities and were unquestionably at fault in at least
    half. In only one percent of fatalities did the police issue summonses to motorists specifically for violating pedestrian and bicyclist rights of way (such as failing to yield in crosswalks or driving in bike lanes).”

    1000 deaths in three years!! Holy ____!

  • ddartley

    T, perhaps you should have said “wait till a tourist *who’s visiting a commercial attraction in Manhattan gets hit.” Three-year-old Eddie Heredia was killed while visiting Brooklyn from out of state, and I didn’t hear any reaction from the Mayor (or any city pols) to it.

    Can’t help but add my voice to the angry chorus against those vile, repugnant DOT ads. How about DOT *at least* (!!!!!) accompany those posters with ROADWAY signs for motorists, admonishing them to take it easy? Did they ever @#%!@ think of that?

    If they like that idea, here’s a draft of the text for them to consider: “Please take it a little easier on the roads. I know it’s unfortunate, but there are lots and lots of pedestrians here, in, you know, New York, so please, if it’s not too much trouble (and please don’t get angry), maybe you could just slow down a little bit? Thanks very very much; hate to be any trouble!!! Thanks! Love you!”

    Actually, no, they would never be that confrontational.

  • JimmyC

    First of all,thank you to all who were able to put together this rally and news coverage. My 24 year old son Joshua David Crouch was killed by a hit and run driver on September 18 by what was said to be a very fast moving vehicle. This crash occurred on the Westside highway (45 mph zone!)and presumeably at a crosswalk going to the park at 3:30 AM. Not only did Josh get run over by a fast moving vehicle, the coward also ran the light at that crosswalk. 166 murders of innocent victims in 2006,these are pathetic numbers. Authorities and the mayor don’t want these numbers to be broadcast out because crime stats hurt the economy, if only THEY could walk in our shoes for a day. Get with it the great NYPD (a term I use lightly)go to work and catch these criminals and stop this madness! Thanks again to all involved.
    Jimmy C
    Josh’s dad

  • Steve

    On Sunday I was doored on Eighth Avenue at ~ 40th Street by a woman exiting a cab. Luckily she flung the door open just as I was passing, so all I got was a black and blue thigh. She advised me, “this is a dangerous place to bicycle.” I was 100% alert and in the bike lane, but there was no way I could have avoided getting hit, because this woman doesn’t know or care enough to look out of the window while she’s opening the car door (I looked inside the cab to see if there was one of the stickers telling pasengers to look before opening the door, but there wasn’t). No sh*t, cars are steel, I’m not. Thanks for the educational message, DOT.

    I know I’m supposed to have gathered the info and reported the accident, but I just didn’t have time to do it.

  • ddartley

    It’s good to see you commenting here, Mr. Crouch.

  • JK

    Thank you to TA and the families for speaking out. Your message needs to be heard again and again. The mayor and the DOT commissioner need to say (and show) that the city unequivocally puts the well being of pedestrians before motor vehicle traffic. (I’d like to hear this from council and the BPs too.)

    They need to stop talking about “balance.” Forgot “balance.” There is no balancing one human beings life for another’s convenience.

    Also, let’s turn the spotlight on the Department of Design and Construction — the people who brought us the turning bays on West Houston Street and 1960’s style street rebuilding design elsewhere. DDC is putting future generations of pedestrians at risk by rebuilding streets to maximize traffic flow instead of the well being of pedestrians.

  • crzwdjk

    Random trivia, but as far as I can remember, the speed limit on West St (which is popularly, but incorrectly, known as the West Side Highway) is in fact 35 mph, a whole 5 mph faster than on regular city streets. You’d never realize it though just from looking at how fast the cars are going.

  • JimmyC

    I hope that the local authorities, NYPD, DOT etc.. get the opportunity and take time from their busy schedules and view these posts. Unfortunately for me, I cannot attend most of the rally’s or meetings that the T.A. has painstakingly organized, so I am left to post here. Apparently, there are no local government officials who have lost a member of their family to such a crime as we have. If there were then we would see action already and wouldn’t have to plan such events. If our loved ones were from a private community in Massachusetts that begin with “H”, or were heirs to hotel chains then these crimes/murders would have already been solved. In Josh’s case, the paper work was shifted over to traffic because it looks better for crime statistics if this is a traffic accident and not a hit and run, or murder, which it is, thus low crime rates. One hundred was a good attendance on the 4th but in the future why not a thousand, or five thousand? Think of all of the idiotic “Marches” and protests that go on in this country, and for what? Rise up people and don’t be so naive as to not think that such a nightmare cannot happen to your family, if you do then you’re foolish, because it can! Let’s prevent future crashes and fix the problem now. These officials need to keep their promises to make the streets of NY safer. I promise this, we will not go away, we will continue with such events and become stronger each time. In the words of a famous governor, “I will be back”.

    Jimmy C
    Josh’s dad

  • legal abyss

    Jimmy C. keep it coming and do not give up. It’s not going to be easy righting this wrong, but it will be worth it.

    Because, when it comes to killer motorists, our legal system is completely broken. If you kill someone with a car, but are sober and stay at the scene, you will not go to jail, or even lose your license. There is a whole separate body of law for motorists that makes it very, very hard for prosecuters or police to convict drivers for even the most outrageous and reckless actions.

    Advocates, the Daily News and the District Attorney’s have been working for years to change this, but have been thwarted by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. There is far more concern in Albany for deadly motorists than the people they kill.

  • ABG

    Jimmy, I wish it were true that things would improve if the rich and powerful lost (or almost lost) their kids to car crashes. Unfortunately, they just chalk it up to “accidents.” See this speech – scroll down to the part after the last crowd cheer – and think about how much this politician has done for safe streets:

    http://www.al-gore-2004.org/gorespeeches/1992convention.htm

  • Clarence

    City Council Speaker Gifford Miller lost his college girlfriend when she was killed by a truck while riding a bicycle in Martha’s Vineyard.

    See this from Michael Smith on Right of Way’s website: http://www.rightofway.org/prensa/miller.html

    During his years as Speaker, I don’t recall him pushing ped and bike safety as a big priority.

  • Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how rich you are. A billionaire was killed last year and nothing was done, driver not even ticketed. That car must have been truckin’ to skid on the wet street.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Bronfman

    Andrea Brett Morrison Bronfman (May 30, 1945 – January 23, 2006) was a philanthropist and wife of billionaire Charles Bronfman, who was once co-chairman of Seagram’s Co.

    She died after being struck by a car in New York City in January, 2006. The car turned onto 65th Street from Fifth Avenue, slid on the wet and slick roadway, and hit Bronfman as she was crossing the street. Bronfman was taken to New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. The driver who hit Bronfman stayed at the scene and no charges were filed

  • galvoguy

    “In Josh’s case, the paper work was shifted over to traffic because it looks better for crime statistics if this is a traffic accident and not a hit and run, or murder, which it is, thus low crime rates.”

    this is part of the problem, NYPD doesnt have the hit and runs, MV pedestrian hits count against their numbers.
    if they were held accountable for it like they are for other indexed crimes on comstat they would be out there making arrest for speeding,illegal turns and crosswalk violations..

  • KBC

    The brother of Congressman Weiner was killed by a motorist in 2000. Congressman Weiner has brought home millions of dollars in federal funds for NYC Safe Routes to School and pedestrian safety on Queens Boulevard and other streets. He is a vocal supporter of red light and speed cameras for NYC.
    ———————————————–
    Washington Post May 23, 2000
    On Saturday afternoon, (May 20, 2000) Seth Weiner, 39, a real estate agent who lived in Alexandria, was struck by a car while crossing Duke Street near South Reynolds Street in Alexandria, police said. Victoria Batista, 46, was charged with felony hit and run.

  • Jimmy C

    I don’t remember seeing or hearing any politicians speaking at the rally or any action being done by them for that matter. I am happy to see however; that the person who murdered the congressmans brother was apprehended and charged with a felony, because he was a congressmans brother? Where are all of the people that are trying to pass such bills? Maybe they’ll come out and show support during they’re elecetion years. If it sounds like I’m bitter, I am! I saw Rachael and Audrey speak on Sunday. Maybe they will show up at the next rally.
    Jimmy C
    Josh’s dad
    Josh was murdered by a very fast moving vehicle on West street on September 18, 2006 and was almost unrecognizable by his best friend when Morgan had to go and identify Josh. I think about this everyday and those that haven’t lost a child, just stop and imagine what your life would be like if you did! You can’t.

  • KBC

    Your bitterness is understandable. I hope you have a chance to convey directly to Assemblyspeaker Sheldon Silver how devastating your loss is. He has stopped many carefully crafted bills that would hold killer drivers to some account for their actions. The sad reality is that state legislators tend to identify more with killer motorists than the people killed or their families. It took Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to make the public and lawmakers aware of the damage drunk drivers were causing. We need to do the same thing for sober drivers who kill and hurt.

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