As I write this, the what must be the hundredth or so column on overcoming what I call crimes of traffic, a vigil of remembrance is being held at P.S. 155 by the classmates and mother and father of 6-year-old Amar Diarrassouba, killed one year ago by a tractor trailer truck at the corner of 117th Street and First Avenue. They are also most fervently pushing for legislation introduced last year in the N.Y. Senate for mandatory truck safety guards.
And related to truck safety devices, traffic safety advocate James Battaglia pushes for additional truck mirrors to give drivers more visibility. Too many blinds spots exist now, especially for vehicle operators traveling in a pedestrian-packed city. And too little media attention is paid to traffic tragedies, in general. I hoped in vain for this vigil to be covered by NY1. All-out media coverage must surely be tied to Mayor de Blasio’s most magnificent and so long overdue Vision Zero mission.
For literally decades, I’ve railed against crimes of traffic, including the bicycle kind, calling for speed limit reduction, and above all, zero tolerance for the number one cause of pedestrian death and injury — drivers’ failure to yield when turning into a crosswalk. And why do I have to cry out to the designated traffic safety planners, like Transportation Alternatives, that “It’s every intersection where they can turn into you, not just where the most accidents occur!”
Again, remember how Belle Moser was struck, crossing with her light, on relatively low traffic East End Avenue by a driver who failed to yield when making a turn. Remember how this 90 year-old woman suffered five weeks in an ICU before she died. And again, had she not been a neighbor of a friend of mine, this failureto-yield-caused terrible death would not have been reported in my column or anywhere else.
And how it’s reported couldn’t be more important. For example, the Feb. 24 Daily News gives a full page with photo account of the traffic tragedy death of a 25-year-old rabbinical student, Redaglia Gruntzweig, killed by a sanitation truck making a turn. “Death Turn” was the bold-lettered headline. The Times’ bottom of the page piece ran without a photo and was titled,” Garbage Truck Fatally Strikes Man in Brooklyn” and only matter of factly reported that “the man stepped into a crosswalk and was struck by the truck as it was turning right.” Reporters need their consciousnesses raised about traffic crime causes, as do editors. Related is the Times Feb. 27 opinion piece, “On the Mean Streets of New York.” The main concern of author Leigh Gallagher, an assistant managing editor at Fortune and author of the book, “The End of the Suburbs; Where the American Dream is Moving,” is on flawed urban planning in boroughs outside Manhattan where some roadways are like highways and the subsequent speeding there must be stopped to save pedestrian lives. Nothing here about failure to yield in general being the greatest danger to city walkers or the needed truck mirrors and guards to make walkers more visible.
So much more needs to be publicly said by those who really know the territory, like Battaglia and yours truly, whom Carolyn Maloney, Liz Krueger and other East side pols called a foremost pedestrian champion, yet they never consult me. That hurts – both me and the cause. But with your help, we will keep on keeping on – especially overcoming “failure to yield,” and the flaws and sins of omission by media and “the designated experts.”
Contact Bette at firstname.lastname@example.org
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