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Families of Crash Victims Call for Action at City Hall on World Day of Remembrance

11:41 AM EST on November 20, 2017

Milli Muniz, whose husband Delmer Maldonado was killed by a hit-and-run driver last August, speaking alongside other members of Families for Safe Streets. Photo: David Meyer

New Yorkers who've lost loved ones to traffic violence gathered with nearly 300 supporters at City Hall Park yesterday on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, pledging to turn grief into action. They called on City Hall to increase its commitment to safer street designs and for Albany to enact an expansion of NYC's speed camera program.

"Imagine what it's like never being able to see your partner, hold him, hear him, or see his smile again," said Milli Muniz, whose partner Delmer Maldonado was killed by a hit-and-run driver in August 2016. "We stand before you along with everyone here demanding that more needs to be done."

Under Mayor de Blasio's "Vision Zero" initiative, New York has bucked a national increase in traffic deaths. Motorists have killed 97 pedestrians and cyclists through September of this year, compared to 113 through the same time last year, according to city data.

Still, the city remains a long way from achieving its stated goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024.

"Our primary message here today is for Mayor de Blasio: Make life-saving street designs the standard -- the rule, not the exception -- on New York City streets," said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White. "We don't live in a world where smart policies, humane policies become action without us pushing."

"There has to be accountability," said Kathleen McAnulty, whose father Thomas was killed by a motorcyclist on the Upper West Side in January 2016. Since her father's death, McAnulty and her family have spoken up at Upper West Side community meetings in favor of safer streets redesigns. "Vision Zero could be in the newspaper every day, but if people are not held accountable, nothing's going to happen."

Members of Families for Safe Street after yesterday's ceremony. Photo: David Meyer
Members of Families for Safe Streets after yesterday's ceremony. Photo: David Meyer

Last year, members of Families for Safe Streets pressed state legislators to expand the city's speed camera program, which is limited to 140 school zones in a city with more than 2000 schools. The bill passed in the Assembly, but a few key members of the State Senate, including Brooklyn representatives Simcha Felder and Marty Golden, withheld the support necessary to put it over the top.

Speaking yesterday, State Senator Jose Peralta promised to get the bill passed when the state legislature reconvenes in January. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams pledged to travel to Albany to lobby for the bill's passage.

"Year after year after year, there seems to be a little bit of progress, but we don't cross the finish line," Peralta said. "Well this year, we need to cross the finish line."

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