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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