Tuesday, November 12, 2013

3 Children Too Many: Traffic Safety and the Need for Slow Zones City Wide

Veronica Marino - sign for 3 Children Too Many
20 is plenty needs to be a slogan and law for New York.
just like it is in cities such as London, Greenwood Village and Hoboken.

In early 1970's, the Netherlands faced a plague of deaths by cars, 3264 deaths in 1972, 450 among youth alone in 1973. In response a movement was born, dubbed Stop de Kindermoord (stop the child murders).   The movement pushed the city to create safer streets for all. 

It is time for us to stop de kindermoord here.  For many this push is already happening.

Tammy Rose

On Tuesday, November 12th, a group of activists in Queens declared enough is enough.  Three children are enough.  Their facebook invite declared:

DEMAND NYPD enforcement of existing traffic laws

DEMAND more traffic-calming zones

DEMAND action-facilitators to point us toward greater safety for everyone

Let's unite our community and protect our kids!

So the group planned a Traffic Safety march for November 12.  

Walk starts at Langston Hughes Library, 100th Street and Northern Blvd.

Join us en route on Northern Blvd. or 82nd Street or at our rally at the post office at 37th Avenue and 79th Street 

Our group formed simply out a strong feeling of empathy for the families who lost their children due to a 100% preventable situations: reckless driving and lack of enforcement of traffic laws. We are neighbors in this community who feel that our actions can help shift the current ambivalence about street safety into a strong lobby in which we honor those who have died or been injured, and fight for stronger enforcement of traffic laws. We hope you'll join us and bring your neighbors!

Much of the push by 3 Children Too Many involves marking neighborhoods  slow zones with  simple signs, not unlike this one in the Gowanus  neighborhood downtown and filling streets around the world. 

Despite the slow zones, this is also a space where all too often the police illegally park in bike lanes, as they are seen doing on Jay Street.The NYPD's lack of regard and selective enforcement of traffic laws undermines the utility of bike lanes as safe spaces for all. 

This lack of regard for speeding  or traffic violations puts kids and grownups alike at risk in neighborhoods in Brooklyn  and citywide where kids live and play. 

City wide kids and grownups are still being killed by cars every day. 
With this in mind, 3 Children Too Many called for the march November 12th. 

The night before the Traffic Safety March, the direct action group Right of Way painted stencils for  the three children killed by automobile in Jackson Heights & Corona this year.

Photos by Right of Way; Creative Commons Rules Apply. 

On the 12th, I rode my bike to the event, stopping and taking pictures along the way from Gowanus, downtown, up Kent and over to Queens, where I got lost. These streets are striking beautiful, but also violent. With a mix of colors and cultures, these streets require due diligence and care. 

Lost in Brooklyn, I hailed a cab.  Riding over to the action from Greenpoint through a sea of cars, the cabby told me he thought it was time for slow zones in New York and that he could not imagine this hindering his work.  It was time for less cars he explained looking out at the grid lock traffic. 
When I arrived Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras was testifying for slow zones, calling out dangerous drivers. 

She was surrounded by slow zone advocates.  
After the action Keegan, of Right of Way, noted:
 Incredible to see a community united around traffic safety. Empowering to listen to families of victims speak out so bravely. Promising to hear so many passionate elected officials and advocates speak up for children. Hopefully, the power instilled in each of us by our collective voices filling the night air, filling the streets, filling the city - demanding not one more preventable death - will carry us back to our daily lives, inspired to keep pushing for justice in everything we do, until we make Vision Zero a reality.

Today more and more people are calling for a Vision Zero.  And more and more people are speaking out.  

"There were 274 traffic fatalities citywide in 2012, including 148 pedestrians killed by vehicles," noted the parents of Allison who was killed by an automobile earlier this fall as she was walking home from a grocery store.  Each of these deaths including that of their daughter was preventable, they argue.  One death is too many, they note joining a chorus of voices calling for safe streets. 

Vision Zero is a moral necessity.  Steps toward this end include policy solutions such as:  installing safe zones  in every residential neighborhood in New York and the city council passing intro 535 mandating 20 mile per hour speed limits city wide this year.  From here, the city much push enforcement of the actual traffic laws on the books, including the police actually ticketing speeding cars, and insurance companies adding points when cars speed.  
There is so much that can and should be done.  But it begins with a vision of a city streets where no kids are killed by cars.  One is too many.  Enough is enough. 

1 comment:

  1. In today's New York Times letters to the editor, a letter from a bicyclist raised in the Netherlands..." To the Editor:

    Daniel Duane makes it abundantly clear that bicyclists hit by cars do not have any chance in court, as they do not have any rights on the road.

    I grew up in the Netherlands, where everybody rides a bike for years before he gets behind the wheel. Thus, all drivers started out as bicyclists and know how to think like a bicyclist.

    At 26, I moved to Connecticut, and my first purchase was a bike. Within a year I had given up biking altogether after several near accidents.

    Advocating more bike lanes is fine, but how about this: In the Netherlands, any new road comes with a bike lane.

    Iowa City, Nov. 10, 2013 "
    in response to this Sunday Times opinion piece: