Trails that Need Following: The way to a safer, caring city

Written by Bette Dewing on . Posted in Arts Our Town Downtown, Dewing Things Better, Lifestyle, Our Town.


contact Bette Dewing at dewingbetter@aol.com

CBS News radio says the “taxi of tomorrow” has a partition that softens the blow to passenger’s heads when drivers make an emergency stop. An emergency room surgeon reported, “Every week, at least two such facial injuries occur.”
Who knew? Not this “traffic safety trailblazer” (Rep. Carolyn Maloney called me that in a 2006 tribute) who only takes cabs in an emergency and says that what’s needed—besides safe drivers—is a cab that won’t move until its passengers are seat-belted. Until then, let’s all tell the driver, “Don’t drive off until my seat belt is fastened!” And, please, won’t somebody up there (Rep. Maloney?) follow my life, limb and money-saving trails?
Ah, but 19th Precinct Officer Liam Lynch did say at the Community Council meeting on traffic safety that the flashlight I have attached to my cane “should be patented.” But how to light up every walker after dark? All-out enforcement of the bike head- and tail light law would give us a fighting chance. As usual, citizen traffic laments at the meeting were often about scofflaw biking, and a number of people attended because the subject was traffic safety.
Among them were 20th Precinct Community Council president Ian Alterman and traffic safety activist Susan Siskind, who shared fears and solutions. Alterman and Siskind are both great letters-to-the-editor writers, and Siskind speaks out most effectively at civic meetings. If only more people did.
Though a bike rider, Alterman is greatly opposed to the law-breaking kind. So here’s to the 19th and 20th Precinct people blazing some trails together to stop all crimes of traffic—kamikaze biking and walking and, the most lethal, motorists failing to yield when turning into crosswalks.
I gave Alterman a copy of Charles Komanoff’s trailblazing manual, Death by Automobile, with statistics and tragic stories to back up this claim. We must never forget how longtime 19th Precinct volunteer Alberta Kenny was killed by a school bus’s illegal turn at York and 79th Street.
Lynch also warned the East 79th Neighborhood Association about bicyclists who swoop in and steal iPhones. Police and civic activist Joy Zagoren also alerted us to covering our cards when using an ATM or bank machine because of a recent string of PIN thefts.
Infinitely more must be learned about the planned replacement of the staircase that connects John Finley Walk with the river walk before the 18-month-long work on it starts next spring. The “staging area” is the 81st Street cul de sac where 45 East End’s service entrance and 33 East End’s front entrance are located.
Loretta Ponticelli, who called attention to heedless kid scooter riders, was able to attend the meeting because Community Council officer Mary Ford could escort her there. The able-bodied helping those who are not is surely a trail to be followed. Photos help, like one of Ponticelli and Ford walking safely together, and of younger Council member Christine Donavan offering me her arm as we crossed Third and Second avenues on the way to our mutual bus stop.
The community relations officer said police will try to keep things “quiet” on St. Patrick’s Day. Helping one another not drink more than two a night is a trail in urgent need of following. And information about open-to-the-public A.A. meetings is an education everyone needs, especially after reading this paper’s story about pub-crawling’s appalling excesses. Intervention is another trail to be widely followed.
Some trailblazing hopes and prayers—not only for St. Patrick’s Day or the Lenten and Passover season.

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