November/December 1996, p.2
Publisher's Letter: One Million
My wife, a medical student, just finished a month-long stint working in Bellevue Hospital's emergency room. Every night over dinner she had more sad stories about little kids, older people and just plain average folks hit by cars - tales about pedestrians and bicyclists whose luck ran out. In the New York area alone, about fifty people are hit by cars every day. In fact, over the last fifty years about one million New Yorkers have been hit and hurt by cars, and more than 17,000 have been killed.
Cars hurting and killing thousands is not an act of God. Cars dominate our streets because we allow them to. In Copenhagen, the people decided in the early 1970s that the air would be cleaner, neighborhoods quieter, and streets safer for bicycling and walking if the automobile were reined in. We have the power to do the same thing here. But it will take our unflagging optimism, determination and resources to make it happen.
Before Rudolph Giuliani became mayor in 1993 the common wisdom was that crime in the city would never go down. Today that same wisdom holds that traffic jams and heavy traffic are inevitable and that bicycling will always remain a fringe activity for only the most intrepid. We disagree. We have the power to make the Mayor fight back the automobile as he has fought back crime.
This year Transportation Alternatives took some important steps towards making the Mayor face up to the damage that the automobile has inflicted on us. With the help of fed-up citizens in west Brooklyn and the Neighborhood Streets Network, we've firmly installed "traffic calming" in the public debate. Community leaders are beginning to understand that reducing traffic means just that - fewer people driving. We've also continued pressing for the basic improvements needed to encourage more cycling.
At every turn, you, our members, have given us strength. In the next few weeks you will be receiving an end-of-year appeal for support from T.A. Be generous. As a member you've shown you care about our goals of creating a more bikeable, walkable, livable city. Dig deep and help bring that vision a little closer. We are counting on you.
Here's to better biking, walking and fewer cars in the new year.
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