Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March for Safe Streets in Brooklyn! "Stop and Look" implore children!

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Signs from a twenty is plenty action in Park Slope almost five years ago. 
 We did so again yesterday, meeting at
 Prospect Park West and 9th Street. 
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Photo by Transportation AlternativesNYC March for Safe Streets #hearourvoices #enoughisenough#movement 

The imputes for the action was driver who ran a red light and killed two children in Brooklyn, people from across New York City.  Those in attendance planned a speak out and protest march for safe streets.  

Arriving I looked at the Vision Zero Now for Sammy bracelet I have been wearing for the last five years for  12-year-old Park Slope resident Sammy Cohen-Eckstein who was killed by a driver doing 30 mph. His parents were planning his Bar Mitzvah when he died. He would have been graduating from high school this year, looking forward to his future, like his other classmates.

There his parents were with the other parents and family members from Families for Safe Streets, the group's numbers growing every day, with more preventable tragedies. And make no mistake about it, the tragedy from March 5th was preventable, noted Paul Steely White, of Transportation Alternatives.

Standing at the action, I saw kids and parents with signs, imploring drivers to look out,  people with somber faces carrying flowers, getting ready for a
 child-led march down 9th Street to the site of the crash. 

So far in 2018, three children have been killed by drivers in New York City. Joshua Lew and Abigail Blumenstein, ages 1 and 4, were killed in Park Slope on March 5th. Just five weeks earlier, 13-year-old Kevin Flores was killed in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

The NYC Kids March for Safe Streets was inspired by child-led protests against cars in the Netherlands in the 1970s. "Stop the Child-Murder" (in dutch, Stop de Kindermoord) sparked a dramatic cultural shift, and inspired the Netherlands to reclaim cities and towns from cars, leading to a huge decline in traffic fatalities.

Already the tragedy has compelled action. 

Senator Jesse Hamilton, Senator Jose Peralta, & Assemblymember Robert Carroll Join with Colleagues, Advocates, & Neighborhood Residents in Renewed Effort for Increased Safety Measures
Tragic Deaths of Infant & Toddler in Park Slope Prompt Community to Unite & Demand Action

Brooklyn, NY  – Senator Jesse Hamilton, Senator Jose Peralta, and Assemblymember Robert Carroll joined with colleagues, advocates, and neighborhood residents on today at 9th Street & 5th Avenue, Brooklyn (11215), the site of the crash that caused the tragic deaths of a 20-month-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old  Abigail Blumenstein , and injuries to three adults. The gathering represents a renewed commitment to further legislative steps to ensure safe streets. The site of the deadly crash is one block away from P.S. 118, the Maurice Sendak Community School.
Legislative Proposals:
-           A two-strike in school zone, 60-day license suspension bill  (S336-B/A5266-A), introduced by Sen. Peralta and Asm. Glick, would suspend the license of a driver who had two speeding violations in school zones within an 18-month period. This law change passed the Senate unanimously earlier this year and is in committee in the Assembly.

-           A bill (S7902), introduced by Sen. Hamilton and Asm. Carroll, that would create a mandatory reporting system, where physicians report ailments that a driver, without warning, suddenly loses control of their vehicle, as well as empowering the DMV to suspend licenses for this reason.

-           According to research by Transportation Alternatives, “Speeding kills more New Yorkers than drunk drivers and drivers on cell phones combined, and all pedestrians, especially children, are at a heightened risk of traumatic injury and death in speed-related crashes”

The Every School Speed Safety Camera Act (S6046-B/A7798-B), introduced by Sen. Peralta and Asm. Glick, would help bring life-saving speed safety cameras to more schoolchildren in New York City. Speeding drivers are the leading cause of traffic fatalities in New York City and a leading cause of death to children. To address this, speed safety cameras reduce speeding violations by over 60% and injuries to pedestrians by 23% on average. However, current state law only allows cameras to operate in 140 school zones, despite New York City having more than 2,000 schools - leaving more than 93% of schools unprotected.

The Every School Speed Safety Camera Act would:
           Cover more schools with rampant speeding by expanding from 140 to 290 the number of school zones in which speed safety cameras can be placed.
           Cover more dangerous roads near schools by increasing the distance from a school within which cameras can be placed to a 1/4 mile radius.

-           A bill, introduced by Sen. Hamilton and Asm. Carroll, that establishes escalating vehicle registration suspensions for repeated traffic control signal violations: 6 violations in under a 12-month period leading to 15 day registration suspension, 9 violations in under a 24-month period leading to 30 day registration suspension, and 12 violations in under a 36-month period leading to a 90 day registration suspension.

NYS Senator Jesse Hamilton  said, “ We stand united today for safety on our streets. We stand united today to honor the memory  Joshua Lew , A bigail Blumenstein , and all the other children and adults who have lost their lives or been injured due to crashes. Improved safety measures on our streetscapes will serve as one part of the solution. Another key part of the solution is legislation we have introduced in Albany – legislation that holds drivers accountable for violations and legislation that creates the links between public health professionals and the authorities we need. Upholding public safety is a critical part of our responsibility as public servants. Alongside colleagues, advocates, and community residents, we stand united to push forward an agenda the honors the memory of all those injured and lost to deadly crashes. ”

NYS Senator Jose Peralta  said, “It’s time my proposal to suspend the driver's license of those who are convicted of two or more speeding violations near schools within 18 months becomes a reality. This is a common-sense approach since speeding is a leading cause of traffic fatalities in New York City. Additionally, we need to pass my bill to expand the school zone speed camera program, an initiative that has been proven to be effective in protecting New Yorkers. More than one million children travel to and from school every day. We must ensure that we put all the possible safety mechanisms in place to deter drivers from speeding. Simply put, these bills are about protecting children. It is time we work together to save lives, to protect children."

Assemblymember Robert Carroll  said, “After the tragic events  on Monday afternoon, it is clearer now more than ever that our State must do more to protect pedestrian, bicyclists and other motorists from dangerous drivers. That is why today I am introducing two new pieces of legislation with State Senator Jesse Hamilton. The first would require medical professionals to report to the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Health any chronic impairing ailment that could without warning cause a driver to lose control of their car. Currently there is no mandatory reporting system in place and thus there are drivers with such chronic ailments continuing to operate motor vehicles when they should not be.

“The second piece of legislation that we have introduced will create a criteria that will suspend motor vehicle registrations for 15 days after a car has received 6 traffic control signal violations within a 12 month period, for 30 days if there are 9 infractions within 24 months and for 90 days if there are 12 infractions over a 36 month period.

These bills, if enacted will not end all vehicle related tragedies, but will hopefully make our streets safer and make tragedies like  this Monday’s all the more rare.”

“There are no words, or actions that will take away the pain that was caused by  Monday’s accident. My heart aches for the Lew and Blumenstein families and their friends. It is the Government’s job to do everything it can to protect our most vulnerable, especially children, and too often we fail. It is imperative that the City and State take all possible measures to improve road safety not just at this intersection, but around the City, to ensure that no other families are forced to endure this pain in the future,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick

“The intersection at 5th Avenue and 9th Street in Brooklyn has been the scene of numerous crashes.  On Monday, a driver ran through a red light at this intersection and killed 4-year old Abigail Blumenstein and 20-month old Joshua Lew. While we mourn the senseless loss of life, we commit to do better by our community. We must reform penalties to unsafe drivers and make street level changes that encourage safer driving. The safety of our children and our community must be our highest priority. I am proud to support the families and advocates who are committed to making our streets safer for all of us,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams  said, “I thank State Senator Hamilton and Assembly Member Carroll for leading on legislative proposals that put safety first on our streets. Achieving Vision Zero demands real action that holds dangerous drivers accountable and keeps them off our roadways.”

NYC Councilman Brad Lander  said, “I want to thank Assemblymember Carroll and Senator Hamilton for their swift action in introducing legislation that responds to  Monday’s terrible tragedy. Either of the proposed regulations would have ensured that Dorothy Burns – a driver with multiple medical ailments and eight different citations for speeding or red light violations – could not have been behind the wheel of her car. While it may be too late to save Abigail and Josh, this legislation would take some of the most dangerous drivers off the road, and ensure that no other families suffer a tragedy like this.”

"Speed safety cameras are an incredibly powerful tool that have proven to save lives in the few places where they've been in effect. Our elected officials in Albany have the power to expand this life-saving technology, and we're grateful to have Senators Hamilton and Peralta leading the way," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.

“We hope that this common-sense legislation proposed by Assemblymember Carroll and Senator Hamilton will move swiftly through the legislature on its way to Governor Cuomo’s desk.  Whatever the investigation into  Monday’s horrible crash concludes, it’s clear that someone who racks up eight dangerous-driving violations in a nine-month period, or who suffers from a condition that may cause grave harm to others, should not be behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.  We need the state to be able to intervene in these situations before – not after – such drivers cause death or injury,” said Eric McClure, Executive Director, StreetsPAC and Co-Founder, Park Slope Neighbors.

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