In our last post, we began a discussion about a New York Magazine article about the problem of pedestrian and bicyclist accidents. The article profiled the stories behind eight pavement-stenciled memorials located around New York.
These stories reveal the myriad of problems that are standing in the way of Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” goals. Until or unless these issues get addressed, bicyclist and pedestrian accident rates will remain unacceptably high.
One of the memorials is actually dedicated to the “unknown pedestrian.” At least 26 of the 200 pedestrians/cyclists killed in 2014 (so far) have not been identified. This suggests that New York’s homeless population is disproportionately affected by traffic accidents.
Other memorials are for specific victims, and their families are now pushing for changes to the way that pedestrian/bicycle accidents are regarded and investigated. Examples include:
- A woman who wants mandatory blood/breath/urine testing in the wake of traffic accidents – her husband was killed by a teenager in possession of drugs and no testing was done
- A family seeking tougher hit-and-run laws – their son was killed by a hit-and-run driver and it took eight months for police to catch him
- Many families pushing for police to actually investigate fatal accidents
- Many families demanding that police and others stop automatically blaming victims for the accidents
- Many families seeking for actual enforcement of important traffic laws such as the “failure to yield” law at intersections
Yes, New York is huge and densely populated. And yes, pedestrians and bicyclists sometimes behave in ways that contribute to accidents. But far too often, these fatal accidents go uninvestigated and at-fault drivers face no punishment whatsoever. Until or unless this changes, Mayor de Blasio’s goal of zero traffic fatalities will remain a pipe dream.
Source: New York Magazine, “What 8 Pedestrian and Cycling Deaths Reveal About the Dangers of Crossing the Street in New York,” Robert Kolker, Oct. 17, 2014