After three children were killed on New York City streets in the last six weeks, over 1,000 people from across the five boroughs gathered in Park Slope to demand safer streets and stronger protocols to prevent known dangerous drivers from being able to endanger others.
The NYC Kids March for Safe Streets brought together families from Park Slope and beyond with elected officials and street safety advocates, who called on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to fix the city’s most dangerous streets before another child is killed. They also demanded that Governor Cuomo direct the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to enact stronger penalties for drivers who break traffic laws. The driver who killed 13-year-old Kevin Flores in Bedford-Stuyvesant in January was not licensed to be operating an oil truck, and the driver who killed Abigail Blumenstein and Joshua Lew in Park Slope had been summonsed for red-light-running and speeding in school zones four times each since 2016.
The NYC Kids March for Safe Streets was inspired by child-led protests against cars in the Netherlands in the 1970s. The Stop de Kindermoord (literally "Stop the Child-Murder") movement sparked a dramatic cultural shift, and inspired Dutch cities and towns to reclaim their streets from the automobile, leading to a huge decline in traffic fatalities. Now, four years into the Vision Zero era, it has become clear that New York City is long overdue for a similar cultural shift.
"Three kids have died on New York City streets in the last six weeks. These deaths could have been prevented," said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White. “Mayor de Blasio needs to fix New York City's dangerous streets before another child is killed, and Governor Cuomo must direct the state DMV to prevent known reckless drivers from getting behind the wheel."
“It’s a tragedy that it took this loss of two young lives to redesign this street,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “I am grateful for the hard work of our transportation advocates who watch our streets and fight for the safety of our pedestrians. This redesign will hopefully make this intersection better for future generations. We know that street redesigns can make a big difference. This tragedy shook us all, and the only thing we can do is to commit ourselves to doing better going forward and to continue making improvements to our streets.”
“This is every parent’s worst nightmare and in the wake of this horrible accident, our community is coming together to support one another. However, more than words are required and we must also demand tangible steps to make our streets safer for pedestrians,” said U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez. “Together, we can find ways to help prevent tragedies like these from occurring in the future.”
“Vision Zero is not about stats. The kids we lose to crashes on our streets have names. They had futures that were stolen from them,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Brooklyn must, and will, lead the way forward to fix our streets. Our children’s futures count on it, and I march alongside families like the Blumensteins, Floreses, and Lews in our pursuit of truly safe streets.”
“For far too long our streets and driver enforcement policies have prioritized the needs of drivers over the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. We owe safer streets to the families of Abigail Blumenstein, Joshua Lew, Kevin Flores and every person who has lost their live on a traffic crash,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “City government must speed up the street redesign process of dangerous intersections and State government must implement tougher policies to keep reckless drivers off the streets. We can’t wait for another death to happen in order to implement these much needed changes.”