A rally was held on March 6 in New York at the Park Slope YMCA on Ninth Street in response to a fatal car crash the day before, reports Curbed’s Emma Whitford.
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Residents gathered after police had confirmed two children, a one-year-old and a four-year-old were killed by a driver who ran a red light at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street in Brooklyn. Two women, reportedly one was the children’s mother, and man were also hit. The three adults are in the hospital and stable condition.
When New York City mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at the YMCA, the more than 100 parents and advocates present shouted, “safe streets now!”
“There is a culture that devalues pedestrians,” Park Slope resident and mother of two Kathy Park Price told Curbed. “We live in a city that is a walking city, but there is a culture that cars come first. And pedestrians are basically speed humps. Our kids are speed humps.”
Mayor de Blasio, Park Slope city Council member Brad Lander and other elected officials have called for heightened enforcement of traffic infractions and harsher Department of Motor Vehicles penalties for motorists who have had numerous violations. The driver involved in the fatal accident, 44-year-old Dorothy Bruns, according to the New York Daily News, was driving with a suspended license, per officials. The vehicle had been reportedly cited 12 times in two years for numerous red light and speeding in school zone violations.
“(Bruns) said that she had a seizure, but I don’t know if she had a seize all those other times she failed to stop at traffic lights, all those other times she sped in a school zone,” Lander said. “She should not have had a license, she should not have had a car.”
The mayor also stressed Albany lawmakers are responsible for regulating speed cameras, which are only in 140 school zones.
“I can’t believe we don’t have more speed cameras,” De Blasio said to the protestors. “I don’t want you have to say to everyone in Albany to get them to want to do something that protects kids.”
Parents in Park Slope and transit advocates believe a Ninth Street redesign is crucial, and that Mayor de Blasio can implement it. Two other serious accidents happened at that intersection in 2012 and 2016, once of which led to a fatality. Doug Gordon, a Park Slope parent and safe streets advocate made a formal request in 2017 for protected bike lanes and pedestrian islands Ninth Street between Third Avenue and Prospect Park West in 2017. The Department of Transportation however stated the roadway didn’t have “sufficient width.”
The agency appears to be changing its mind now however.
“We will immediately review the area for any safety improvements,” DOT spokesman Scott Gastell told Curbed in a statement. “Among the traffic-calming enhancements we will now consider is a protected bike lane on Ninth Street.”
For Gordon however, the time to act was before another fatal incident occurred.
“The idea that we have to hit some threshold of dead people before we act—it strikes me as a damning indictment of how things work in this city,” he told reporters.
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