KILLED BY ALBANY
RIGHT OF WAY STAGES DEMO AND DIE-IN, STENCILS MEMORIALS FOR EVERYONE CONDEMNED TO DEATH BY ALBANY IF THE LEGISLATURE DOES NOT PASS A COMPREHENSIVE SPEED CAMERA BILL THIS SESSION
APRIL 10, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Keegan Stephan, 907.244.6426, Keegan@rightofway.org
Charles Komanoff, 212 260 5237, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY: Last night, dozens of livable streets advocates staged a demonstration and die-in, and stenciled their body outlines on Lewis Streets at the corner of Grand on the Lower East Side. Each person represented someone who will be killed by drivers this year if Albany does not pass an appropriate speed camera bill this legislative session. Unlike those people, these people were able to rise shortly after and they wrote across their outline their cause of death: Killed By Albany, building on the group’s signature slogan “Killed by Automobile.”
Currently, the most expansive speed camera bill in the legislature offers NYC 140 speed cameras in addition to the current 20, with the purported goal of protecting school zones. There are more than 2,500 schools in NYC. “Why should we protect 160 school zones and not the rest?” asks Keegan Stephan, an organizer with Right of Way. “This bill gives Suffolk and Nassau Counties speed cameras for every single one of their school districts, while NYC gets cameras for only a fraction of its schools.”
In addition, the bill under discussion would only allow the cameras to operate during school hours (7 am – 4 pm weekdays).
“For suburbs, where children are dropped off and picked up from school, restricted hours may have a certain logic,” added Stephan. “But in New York City, children are present on the streets every hour of every day. The streets are our living rooms and public space. If you look at the traffic crashes that killed children over the last year – from Sammy Cohen Eckstein in Park Slope to Allison Liao in Jackson Heights and Cooper Stock on the Upper West Side – all these crashes occurred on evenings and weekends.
“We are tired of waiting until people die before we protest the institutional failures that killed them,” said Liz Patek, another organizer with Right of Way. “We know how many lives inaction will cost, and if Albany does not save them, the blood is on their hands.”
How we know that Albany’s inaction will cost 40 lives: In NYC, 300 people are killed by drivers every year, school zones encompass 2/3 of all NYC streets, and the City’s Vision Zero action plan states that speed cameras reduce crashes by 20%. 300 x 2/3 x 20% = 40.
“Allowing for fewer than 2,500 speed cameras contradicts the internal logic of this bill, handicaps the City’s plan to eliminate traffic fatalities, and will cost us 40 lives this year alone. We want Albany to be fully aware of that, and to know that we are demanding better,” said Stephan.
Right Of Way uses direct action, forensic statistical analysis and other means to highlight traffic crimes and demand safe streets. Last fall and winter the group created street memorials to children and elders killed by drivers, facilitated ten different neighborhoods to install look-alike 20 mph signs, and painted a bike lane in midtown Manhattan where a British tourist was maimed by a road-raging taxi driver.
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“[T]oday in New York, approximately 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and more than 250 are killed each year in traffic crashes. Being struck by a vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14, and the second leading cause for seniors. On average, vehicles seriously injure or kill a New Yorker every 2 hours.” (NYC Vision Zero Action Plan, p. 7) “No level of fatality on City streets is inevitable or acceptable.” (Ibid., p. 6)