Remembering Cyclists and Pedestrians Lost in 2009

4243459442_3e21cbbc61.jpgCyclists gather Sunday at the Ghost Bike installation for Julian Miller, killed in Brooklyn last September. Photo: denali2001/Flickr

Just a few hours into the new year, New York recorded its first pedestrian fatality of 2010. At around 6:45 p.m. on Friday, January 1, an unidentified 50-year-old man was struck and killed in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The driver, a livery cab operator behind the wheel of a minivan, was charged with DWI and manslaughter.

Yesterday, the New York City Street Memorial Project held its fifth annual ride and walk for pedestrians and cyclists killed in city traffic. By Transportation Alternatives’ count, 65 pedestrian and 10 cycling fatalities were reported by local media in 2009 (most may be found here), though the official tally will in all likelihood be much higher.

"Five years ago, many of us hoped this ride would no longer be necessary in 2010. But we’re still here, and we still have to do this to remind our neighbors and our city that these preventable deaths keep happening all around us," said Leah Todd, a Street Memorial Project volunteer. "Five years from now, we hope to see a magnitude of change on our streets that makes this ride a thing of the past."

As pedestrians and cyclists citywide continue to lobby for safer street designs and ever-elusive enforcement of traffic laws, their efforts may have received a boost last week when Cy Vance, elected on a platform that included a strong traffic justice plank, assumed the office of Manhattan district attorney. Sadly, we probably won’t have long to wait until we learn how the city’s newest top prosecutor will handle his first pedestrian or cyclist fatality case.

See Gothamist for more on Sunday’s memorial event.