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Families for Safe Streets

Monday’s Headlines: Day of Remembrance Edition

Activists laid out symbolic body bags to mark Sunday’s “Day of Remembrance” for victims of road violence. Photo: Clarence Eckerson

Street safety activists laid out 100 body bags in Bowling Green on Sunday to mark the 40,000 Americans who die every year due to traffic violence. Those hundred-plus-deaths per day are far more than from cigarettes, far more than from opioids, far more than from murder — yet all of those causes are the subject of substantial attention from the political establishment and the media.

Not so car carnage. Perhaps that's why Families for Safe Streets is ramping up its effort to get presidential candidates to treat road violence with the seriousness it deserves. “No one is saying anything," said Amy Cohen, the group's co-founder. "We need our presidential candidates to end the silence on traffic violence.” (Clayton Guse of the Daily Newsuh and Todd Maisel at amNY focused their coverage on that effort.)

But when it comes to the death toll in New York City — up by double-digit percentages this year, but always in the hundreds annually — it's difficult to get anyone with a printing press or a bill-signing pen to see road deaths as anything but a "tragic accident," as too many describe each rupture in a city fabric.

All of these deaths are preventable. It just needs more focus on the "three E's" of Vision Zero (education, engineering and enforcement) — plus a fourth "E": elimination. But this mayor and this governor do nothing to limit the number of cars on our streets every day (and, in fact, do many things to encourage driving).

Indeed, the mayor didn't even attend Sunday's ceremony (though Senator Charles Schumer and Rep. Jerry Nadler — who is busy impeaching a president — found time in their day. Schumer was even eloquent!).

Streetfilms auteur Clarence Eckerson captured it all (linked here and embedded below).

Much of the news of the weekend was connected to road violence. Here's a roundup:

    • DN woodMany outlets covered the Brooklyn police officer who crashed his car in an apparent drag race on the FDR Drive early Saturday (NYDN, NY Post, plus video), but none of the first-day stories reported what street safety savvy reporters noticed immediately: The officer, Garman Chen, has a long record of speeding and running red lights (Liam Quigley via Twitter). A day later, the Post was the only paper to actually report it, even though Streetsblog and others spent the day sounding the alarm and reminding mainstream reporters how easy it is to run plates through Howsmydrivingny.nyc.
    • A Bronx pedestrian was killed by a truck driver, though for some reason, the Daily News believed the preposterous narrative from the NYPD (likely provided by the lone witness — the killer driver) that the pedestrian "died after he fell into the side of a box truck and was run over by the back wheels." The Post was more skeptical of the driver's account.
    • The Post, struggling to defend Gov. Cuomo's call for 500 new unaccountable and unaffordable cops in the subway, at least made a decent argument in favor of them, pointing out that the NYPD crime stats may be undercounting some nuisance crimes underground. (NY Post)
    • Guess what? The panel that's supposed to figure out the nuts and bolts of congestion pricing can meet in secret, the MTA seems to believe. (NY Post)
    • House of Glory wrestling held a special tribute show for killed cyclist and pro grappler Matt Travis in Jamaica on Saturday night. Streetsblog was there to lend support for Travis's mom Yolanda Nieves and to watch top wrestlers including Tommy Dreamer, the Rock and Roll Express and the Dudley Boyz put on a show, but also honor Travis with speeches (eWrestling). Meanwhile, the NYPD has provided no updates on the search for the hit-and-run dump truck driver who killed Travis last week.
    • Nicole Gelinas has some problems with the MTA's budget — which means you should, too. (NY Post)
    • Meanwhile, in Riverdale, more wealthy residents think they’re street design engineers (Riverdale Press). In the same issue, Streetsblog’s Eve Kessler speaks truth to power to her neighbors through their typically pro-car house organ.
    • Postscript. Yes, former Mayor Bloomberg apologized for stop-and-frisk (CNN). And current Mayor de Blasio didn't accept the apology on Twitter. And the NY Times did a long story about why stop-and-frisk was so horrific. But let's not kid ourselves: stop-and-frisk tactics are still happening, and we should challenge any suggestion that the NYPD consistently treats blacks and Latinos with courtesy, professionalism and respect. Even de Blasio admits there's a problem.

Here's Eckerson's film:

Families for Safe Streets Brings 100 Bodybags to Day of Remembrance from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

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