Oh, so terribly long overdue is a Bella’s Law, and a Night Out Against Traffic Crime, and elected officials who fulfill their first constitutional duty to protect public safety, which includes safety from reckless and traffic law-breaking vehicular operators.
And yes, traffic-lawless walkers too, but on July 2, Bella was crossing East End Avenue at the corner of 82nd Street with the walk signalin her favor when she was struck down by a car turning into her crosswalk – only one short block from her home. And this is the crime of traffic which injures and kills more city walkers than any other, but is rarely punished even when it kills or injures.
And yet, no official cameras exist to catch such offenders. Why? Because we need these pictures to “get out there” – to raise public empathy for the suffering and, above all the need to wage a real war against crimes of traffic, no matter how “unintentional.” And photos of victims and the drivers responsible should be posted on Facebook.
Thankfully, Bella survived but at her age, will she walk or live independently again? And think of the physical and emotional suffering involved. There’s also the personal monetary cost. (Incidentally, traffic tragedies are very costly to government coffers, so why no all-out war to prevent them?)
Consider how I, a longtime traffic safety activist, only learned of this nearby traffic tragedy because Ruth, a friend, retired nurse, and East 79th Street Neighborhood Association charter member, alerted me. And she only knew because Bella is her next door neighbor, who Ruth said, was so grateful to be able to get to Coleman’s deli and Gristedes stores across the avenue and sometimes to a nearby coffee shop. “These things mean so much to someone who lives alone and can’t walk very far.” Ah, that’s another column or volume.
Of course, “failure to yield when turning into a crosswalk” is a city-wide danger for all age walkers, not just seniors and beyond, and not only at those “most dangerous corners” cited by official traffic safety planners. And, it’s the drivers who are dangerous because there’s little or no punishment for this ubiquitous crime of traffic.
But The Night Out Against Traffic Crimes idea is prompted by the 30th anniversary of The National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday, Aug. 6. The National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit organization, began the effort in 1984. Now in lower crime times, I find the 19th precinct’s more of a social event with over-loud music and lots of food. Ah, but still worthwhile, and I urge your attendance at your precinct’s event. And, please stress traffic crime prevention. (call 646 610 5000 for information).
May the 19th precinct that night, remember Bella, who was so badly injured by a car only four blocks away from its Night Out Against Crime event 86th and East End location. And may the East End community, including the Dalton and Brearley girls schools, all come together to get behind a Bella’s Law to demand all-out enforcement of the yield to pedestrians when turning into a crosswalk law. Set an example for every community. It takes a village. firstname.lastname@example.org
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