New York, New York: Hundreds of New Yorkers, including the families of traffic crash victims, elected officials, and community leaders, held a massive rally on Sunday by bicycling from all five boroughs to the Hudson River Greenway, site of last month’s attack on cyclists and pedestrians, and into City Hall Park, where they collectively formed a giant zero around City Hall. The rally, in honor of the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, drew attention to Vision Zero’s progress, and demanded that Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and other city and state elected officials take immediate action to reduce risk faced by cyclists and pedestrians. The event occurred in tandem with events around the world, and in dozens of cities across the U.S., including Austin, Los Angeles, and Boston.
Transportation Alternatives also previewed a new report that found widespread need for the accelerated installation of protected bike lanes in all five boroughs. That report -- BikeNYC 2020: How to Make New York a World-Class Bicycling City -- will be released on Monday, November 20th, and is based on interviews with thousands of New Yorkers. TransAlt found that New Yorkers feel unsafe, and are desperate for bicycle infrastructure, including the finding that 99% of less experienced bicyclists feel safer in a protected bike lane, and 94% of frequent bicyclists have encountered at least one car parked in a bike lane in the past month.
At the rally, led by Families for Safe Streets, a chapter of Transportation Alternatives made up of traffic-crash survivors and families who have lost loved ones to traffic crashes, demonstrators thanked Mayor de Blasio for his leadership of the Vision Zero campaign throughout his first term as Mayor, but urged bold leadership, tough decisions, and the enactment of sound, equitable policies to help achieve the Mayor’s goal of eliminating traffic deaths in the City by 2024. After reading the names of all 198 people who have been killed in traffic crashes so far in 2017, Transportation Alternatives demanded passage of a law to save and expand New York City’s speed camera program; the creation of a congestion pricing system which has been shown to reduce crashes by 40%; and the installation of protected bike lanes so that every New Yorker lives within a quarter-mile of safe, accessible bicycling by 2020.
Mayor de Blasio officially launched Vision Zero just two weeks into his first term. Since then, traffic fatalities in New York City have declined, from about 290 per year, to about 240. It is difficult to overstate the significance of this success. Considering that nationwide traffic deaths are up 17% over this same four-year period, the mayor’s effort is even more impressive. If New York City’s Vision Zero program were a vaccine, it would be heralded as a miracle drug.
But the success of Vision Zero to date has been obtained with low-hanging fruit, building obvious bike lanes and enacting policies that have little effect on most New York City streets. Future gains will require more difficult decisions. Saving the next 50 lives will require the bold leadership of Mayor de Blasio to reduce congestion by reducing overall vehicle volumes in New York and discouraging driving by replacing parking with alternative transportation like bus lanes and bicycle share facilities. With the attack last month on bicyclists and pedestrians on the Hudson River Greenway, it’s never been more clear that we need the Mayor to make bold, meaningful investments right now.
“New York is the greatest city in the world, and our ambitions must rise above simply being able to walk or bicycle without fear of death,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The groundwork for a people-first New York -- where the streets, sidewalks, and public spaces suit the needs of everyone, not just motor vehicles -- must be laid now. We are waiting to see if Mayor de Blasio is bold enough to make the hard decisions, like removing parking and discouraging driving to protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers. There’s no Vision Zero in Mayor de Blasio’s congestion plan, which involves adding car lanes to Midtown Manhattan, and there’s no Vision Zero in his plan for Fifth Avenue, where he eliminated a community-backed protected bike lane from midtown, where protection for cyclists is needed most. If Mayor de Blasio wants to save lives, there needs to be Vision Zero in every decision.”
“Last year, my husband, Delmer, was hit and killed while crossing the street by a reckless driver,” said Milli Muniz, a member of Families for Safe Streets who spoke at the rally. Delmer Maldonado, 41, was killed on August 1, 2016, as was Israel Turcios, 56, when the two men were struck by a speeding driver while walking in Brooklyn. “For 16 years, Delmer was the light to my soul, key to my heart, partner to my life and best friend, whom I will dearly miss, forever love, and never forget. The names of 2017 victims read here today do not represent just one person -- each one has a family like us, and we have to live with the horror and the trauma of these ordeals for the rest of our lives. New York City must do more to prevent these senseless deaths.”
“As we pause today to remember the millions of individuals and their families who have been killed or injured by road crashes, let us also redouble our effort to take meaningful steps to end preventable loss and suffering,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick (D-66). “I will continue to fight for expanded use of speed safety cameras in school zones to protect our children from reckless motorists. The time has come to put politics aside and demand that this common-sense legislation be passed.”
“As we gather here today and remember our loved ones who tragically lost their lives to crashes, it is vital that we work together and put all the necessary measures in place to increase street safety for all New Yorkers, including my bill to expand the school area speed camera program,” said State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens). “This proposal is about saving lives, and I will fight tirelessly in Albany until it becomes a reality.”
“While New York City has made great strides to ensure pedestrians and cyclists are protected, any death on our streets is still one too many,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “On World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, we must double down on our efforts to expand speed safety camera programs at our schools, to redesign our most dangerous streets, and create more protected bike lanes. We know these initiatives save lives and we cannot wait any longer to make them a reality.”
“We’ve made real progress towards making New York a safer, more walkable city, but pedestrian deaths still number in the hundreds every year,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Even one death or serious injury is too many. We must double down on our efforts to make New York’s streets safe for everyone.”
“We remember all those we have lost on our streets to traffic violence, we renew our call for critical reforms like speed cameras at every school, and we recommit to doing all we can make Vision Zero more than just a vision, but a reality,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “I stand with Families for Safe Streets, Transportation Alternatives, and all New Yorkers focused on this effort.”
“I will continue to advocate for safer transit options for New Yorkers and tourists throughout the five boroughs,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (Manhattan, District 10), chair of the Council Transportation Committee. “With all the traffic congestion issues we are facing nowadays, biking and walking are practical and affordable ways to move within our City. We must continue to make them safe travel options.”
“The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims is a solemn occasion,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6). “We must renew our commitment to making our streets truly safe for all – pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. Substantial progress has been made over the past four years, but we still have a long way to go as we seek to transform the way our streets are shared. I join in remembrance of those lost and in solidarity as we push to make the promise of Vision Zero a reality.”
“Even though traffic-related deaths are down in the city, I think we can all agree that even one death is too many,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso (Brooklyn/Queens, District 34). “On World Day of Remembrance, my thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives on NYC streets. But words are not enough – we also need action to further the goal of Vision Zero. Over the last four years, the City’s efforts have made an impact, whether through improved infrastructure or new policies implemented, but we still have a ways to go. In the next term, I will continue to ensure that Vision Zero remains a priority for the administration and the City Council.”
“The World Day of Remembrance is an opportunity to reflect on the tragic losses our communities have suffered on unsafe streets,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca (Brooklyn, District 38). “It is also a call to action. Recent progress has drastically reduced injuries and loss of life on City streets, but we must keep working together to fulfill all of Vision Zero’s goals.”
“I join New Yorkers everywhere in mourning the loss of those killed in traffic incidents across our City,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson (Bronx, District 16). “The recent terrorist attack along the West Side Highway remains a painful reminder of the vulnerability of cyclists and pedestrians as well as our duty as legislators to protect them. As we commemorate World Remembrance Day, I join my colleagues in recommitting to Vision Zero and ask all New Yorkers to keep those we have lost, and their loved ones, in their thoughts and prayers.”
“In the days ahead, even as we have more organizing to do around our commitment to Vision Zero, we will stand steadfast with those New Yorkers who have suffered great loss due to preventable traffic violence,” said Council Member Brad Lander (Brooklyn, District 39). “I have found in this group, a kind of courage and solidarity and ability to fight through darkness. We’ll make change happen and bring about a culture that will be safer for all of us.”
"We are here to remember, to honor, and to pledge that together we can make a difference," said Council Member Stephen Levin (Brooklyn, District 33). "Going forward, we must commit ourselves to improved safety with greater urgency. One thing I respect about this movement is there is no need to move the goalposts. The goal is right where it should be — zero. It is practical, necessary, and long overdue. Let's get it done."
“In honor of World Day of Remembrance, we recognize the importance of street and traffic safety throughout our city,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides (Queens, District 22). “The Vision Zero initiative has helped save lives and improve our quality of life. I join the call to recommit to this program in order to make our streets even safer for pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists.”
"On World Day of Remembrance, we pay tribute to the thousands of road traffic victims and their families," said Council Member Daniel Dromm (Queens, District 25). "Over the years, I have worked with the administration to transform and improve Jackson Heights and Elmhurst streets, making them safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike. I renew my commitment to Vision Zero and will continue to work to end road traffic tragedies in our city."
"I continue to look forward to a year when there are no traffic-related deaths in the streets of New York City. We have made tremendous progress through our shared commitment to Vision Zero, making 2017 one of the safest years on record. But as a City and as individuals we can and must do more to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe," said Council Member Ben Kallos (Manhattan, District 5). "World Day of Remembrance serves as an opportunity to reflect on those we have lost and to recommit to our work to prevent any more deaths."
“The Halloween terror attack on the Hudson River Greenway demonstrated the continued vulnerability of New York's bicyclists and pedestrians in the worst way possible,” said Council Member David Greenfield (Brooklyn, District 44). “Our streets, parks and other public spaces still need significant changes in order eliminate harmful collisions, both intentional and not. I call on my colleagues in government to join with Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets in recommitting to making Vision Zero our reality. One death remains one too many.”
"All users of city streets need a safe way to coexist," said Council Member Dan Garodnick (Manhattan, District 4). "I applaud the advocacy of Transportation Alternatives and their focus on achieving the vital Vision Zero goals. Safe streets cannot wait."
“In the face of terror, New Yorkers fight back by doing what we do best – standing united and resilient, and building bridges to ensure that our City’s streets are safe for everyone,” said Council Member Margaret Chin (Manhattan, District 1). “This month, I joined City Council colleagues and advocates at Transportation Alternatives to call on the City to install safety bollards in vulnerable areas with high pedestrian volume, as well as send a letter urging the immediate installation of safety barriers in front of neighborhood schools. While it is critical that we push for these common-sense, design-friendly solutions, we must also commit to continuing the conversation about street safety for the long haul. Thank you to Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets for creating a space for the community to heal together. I am proud to be your partner in the movement for safer streets.”
“As we remember today those we have lost to traffic related incidents, we must reaffirm our commitment to keep streets and roadways safe for all who use them, including pedestrians and cyclists,” said Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “In Brooklyn, we have secured convictions and obtained indictments in recent months against reckless drivers and motorists who fled the scene of fatal crashes. I will to continue to prosecute such cases vigorously while also working with advocates and legislators on strengthening our laws to enhance road safety.”
“On this third annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, we honor those lost to vehicular violence and renew our commitment to hold these offenders accountable for their crimes,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. “The terrorist attack on the Hudson River Greenway is a painful reminder that despite all our city’s gains in public safety, there is so much more we can do to protect pedestrians and cyclists. My Office will continue working with street safety advocates and government partners to reduce the number of traffic deaths, including by keeping the pressure on Albany to finally pass the Every School Speed Safety Camera Act. I thank Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets for their ongoing efforts to keep Manhattan’s streets and kids safe.”
"Today, I join Transportation Alternatives and others in commemorating the lives of all those who died as a result of traffic violence on our streets,” said State Senator Marisol Alcantara (D-31). “New Yorkers deserve to know that they are safe walking the streets of their native city, and I am proud to support multiple pieces of legislation to make all of our lives that much safer. I am a strong supporter of legislation that would install speed cameras in all New York City school zones and of legislation, like my bill S4257B, that would create a statewide ‘Yellow Alert System’ to publicize vehicle information of hit-and-run drivers. After this year's terrorist attack on the Hudson River Greenway, it is especially important that our government reassess the safety concerns created by car traffic on our streets."
“This World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims we remember the victims of the terror attack at the Hudson River Greenway, as well as all those impacted by serious injuries and fatalities caused by crashes,” said State Senator Jesse Hamilton (D-20). “Still fresh in my mind, the deaths of three young people from a single middle school in my district, M.S. 51, who were killed over a 13-month period; Joie Sellers killed at age 12, Sammy Cohen Eckstein killed at age 12, and Mohammad Uddin killed at age 14. In addition to honoring their memory, we must work to pass EverySchool legislation that will allow for more speed safety cameras at our schools. We must pursue safer streets for every New Yorker. The legacy of these young people, and all those seriously injured or killed in crashes, deserves no less.”
“Since last years' World Day of Remembrance, New York witnessed its first Citi Bike user fatality where a man was killed on 26th Street in front of my office, experienced an attack on innocent bikers and pedestrians on the Hudson River Parkway, and saw hundreds of fatal traffic crashes,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-27). “ I'm hopeful this Day of Remembrance will offer an opportunity to honor the lives lost and redouble our efforts at improving our infrastructure to protect New York’s cyclists and pedestrians."
“Traffic fatalities are a too often unrecognized health crisis in our city,” said State Senator Liz Krueger (D-28). “Today, as we remember those we have lost, we must also to recommit ourselves to stopping more preventable deaths in the future. New York has made progress in reducing fatalities and injuries from traffic crashes, but there is still much more we can do to make our streets safer and truly realize the promise of Vision Zero."
“On this World Day of Remembrance, I am honored and proud to stand beside my fellow New Yorker’s as we come together to commemorate road traffic victims and their families,” said Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley (D-57). “I commend Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets in organizing this significant campaign, and look forward to working with my colleagues in government to ensure all New Yorker’s commutes are as safe as possible.”
“My heartfelt condolences go out to all the families and friends who have had to deal with the passing of their love as a result of a traffic death,” said Assemblymember Joseph R. Lentol (D-50). “Despite countless deaths and injuries, we have yet to pass common sense legislation to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. I call on the Senate to do their part. It is time to protect and prevent these senseless deaths. I stand with Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets, and New Yorkers on this important day of remembrance.”
“Every year, we take time to remember those who were lost or seriously injured in a traffic collision,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-67). “To truly honor those we have lost, we must do more than mourn, we must take action to make the streets safer for all users. Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives are leading the way toward a future where Vision Zero is more than a talking point, it's a way of life. I look forward to continuing to work with them to attain that future."
"Our community continues to recover from the terrible attack on West Street, and it's critical that we work towards protecting our pedestrian and bicycle pathways from future attempts of violence," said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou (D-65). "Lower Manhattan is a resilient community, and I thank Transportation Alternatives and advocates for organizing this event in honor of World Day of Remembrance."