Monday’s Headlines: Day of Remembrance Edition

Each yellow sign bore the name of one of the 1,800 victims of road violence since Mayor de Blasio took office. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Each yellow sign bore the name of one of the 1,800 victims of road violence since Mayor de Blasio took office. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Sunday was the World Day of Remembrance for the victims of road violence — and in this city, that meant honoring the 1,800 people who have been killed (almost entirely by drivers) during the seven-plus years of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.

There were eloquent speeches by the pols — led by Sen. Chuck Schumer, who rightfully pointed out that 19 of the dead were exploited delivery workers. And many incoming Council members, among them Lincoln Restler, Crystal Hudson, Mercedes Narcisse, Sandy Nurse and Chi Osse, signed a Families for Safe Streets pledge to do a better job. But we were most struck by the passionate words of Rita Barravecchio, whose niece, Madeline Shersen, was killed by a senior citizen driver in 2018. Barravecchio has a lot to be frustrated about, given that the state legislature has not even moved ahead with the so-called “Madeline’s Law” that would require senior citizens, whose motor skills and reaction times decline as they age, to be periodically retested before being given a driver’s license.

“Vision Zero has been deployed haphazardly, slowly, sloppily,” she said. “Time after time, the administration caved whenever faced with pushback on proven safety measures. No — parking spaces should not be prioritized over safety. Eight years later, we have the gruesome consequence: 1,800 humans killed on the streets of New York. … It’s time to put an end to the infuriating slaughter on our streets. Eighteen hundred deaths in eight years is an emergency — a public health crisis [and] must be met with the urgency it demands: Nothing less than complete commitment to zero traffic deaths.”

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Mayor-elect Eric Adams skipped the event — something came up — which is sad because we were hoping to ask him a follow-up question about a weird comment he made last week when we asked him about how he would fix the current Vision Zero stagnation:

“First, let’s be honest about the problem of vehicle crashes,” he said. “Government could do whatever it wants, but we have to change the culture of people. And if we continue just to say, ‘What are you doing in government?’ that is the wrong attitude. It’s not, ‘What is Eric doing?’ It’s, ‘What are we doing as a city?'”

Yes, he did promise “traffic-calming” measures, better driver education, more enforcement against recklessness and a “zero tolerance approach” to crashes, but he closed by harping on the misguided idea that our “culture” can be changed simply through personal good deeds.

“It is not just government, and I’m not going to allow people to say, ‘Eric, what are you doing as mayor?’ without me saying back, ‘What are you doing a citizen?’ This is a partnership.”

A partnership, eh? Let’s put a pin in that for now, and come back to it the first time someone is killed on a roadway that the DOT promised to make safer, but failed — like on Atlantic Avenue, for example.

Meanwhile, Adams’s office announced that he’ll create a memorial to the victims of traffic violence, which doesn’t sound like a big deal until you realize that there’s only one or two of them in the whole world. A memorial grove is an important statement because if you truly want to change car culture, the first step is to highlight that car culture has actual once-living victims (amNY covered the announcement).

And speaking of preventable road deaths, the New York Post did another of its “Noo Yawk tough” videos — this time about how to “survive” cycling in the city (headline, “The biker’s guide to not dying on New York City streets”). The video is ultimately grating because even as it appears to be celebrating the “tough” cyclist, it never really focuses on the real villains who are ultimately causing all the aforementioned dying.

In other news from a busy weekend:

  • So, New York City Transit President Craig Cipriano had an op-ed in amNY urging people to take public transit during the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s great advice … until a family of four actually prices out some round-trip tickets on MetroNorth to visit the folks. Our old man has to go to New Canaan with his two kids and his girlfriend, and the off-peak round trip for the foursome comes to $92. No wonder so many people drive. Sure, gas prices are high right now, but driving that quartet to Uncle Fred’s house would cost less than $20, thanks to all the deferred externalities of driving, and the subsidies our society gives to car owners. Family discounts on the trains would help change the equation and allow people to make better choices.
  • An Amazon worker walking to the Staten Island distribution center was killed by a teenage driver, who was uncharged (amNY). The Daily News and the Post reported that the driver, also an Amazon worker, was unlicensed.
  • We covered the death of a Brooklyn pedestrian that NYPD told us about on Sunday and provided a few more details than amNY offered. The Daily News went full hearts-and-flowers about the victim, but lost the thread about why so many people are dying on our streets.
  • A respected colleague of ours in the ink trade has gone to the other side. DOT’s gain is our loss. (Vincent Barone via Twitter)
  • In case you missed it, we wrote on Friday about the Jay Street busway being made permanent by Mayor de Blasio; amNY followed on Sunday.
  • Here’s a good Twitter thread about why the MTA’s app is completely useless at predicting train arrival times on the above-ground routes (it’s the pectin!). (LGA_A320 via Twitter)
  • Leave it to the Times to have a climate reporter write about the joy of traffic circles, which may be good for reducing pollution from congestion, but are terrible when it comes to encouraging walking, which will get us out of this mess faster than making roadways better for drivers.
  • Eric Adams weighed in on that video of a bunch of muscle car goons creating havoc on the Kosciuszko Bridge:

  • We would like to live in a world where a cyclist would not have to hire a bike coach just to feel more comfortable maneuvering through the way-too-narrow bollards on the Hudson River Greenway. (NY Times)
  • From the national desk: A crazed driver used his car as a weapon in Wisconsin, killing several people at a holiday parade. (NY Times)
  • From the assignment desk: Today at 11:30 a.m., the City Council’s Transportation Committee will take up several bills today that will create more loading zones and possibly create a cargo bike revolution. (Council website)

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De Blasio to Stand With Traffic Violence Victims Sunday, and So Can You

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Sunday is World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. In New York City, Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets will mark the occasion with a memorial walk from City Hall to the United Nations. NYC has seen an unusual string of pedestrian fatalities concentrated in the last two weeks, but the carnage is steady year-round. City drivers […]