WORKING WITH THE FAMILIES OF THE VICTIMS, RIGHT OF WAY STENCILED 12 MEMORIALS FOR PEOPLE KILLED BY DRIVERS
August 4, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Keegan Stephan, 907.244. 6426, KeeganStephan@gmail.com
Charles Komanoff, 212.260.5237, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY: On Sunday, August 3rd, members from Right of Way installed 12 street memorials for people who were killed by drivers. At each site, they were joined by the families of the victims, who have been advocating for positive changes to make our streets safer since their very private losses.
The ride was born from requests by Audrey Anderson and Evelyn Cancel, who have been working with Right of Way since their sons were killed 9 and 17 years ago, respectively. They had been asking Right of Way to re-stencil the sites where their children were killed with their signature body outline and “Killed by Automobile” artwork, which since the late 1990s had alerted the public and powers-that-be to the rampant, unchecked epidemic of traffic violence in New York City.
At the same time, Right of Way was imagining a new stencil to reflect the emerging era in which the public is coming to regard traffic injuries and deaths not as accidents but as preventable crimes, and in which city officials are embracing Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024. Forcing this new era into being are the very families that were suffering the tragedies, who this year organized as Families for Safe Streets in order to turn their losses into redemptive change.
Right of Way asked artist Robyn Hasty to design an image that would capture this sentiment. When the image was complete, Right of Way asked members of Families for Safe Streets if they wanted it installed at the site where their loved ones were killed. Twelve families said yes, and the ride was planned.
Calling it the Ride of Remembrance and Hope (RORAH), Right of Way members gathered at 6 a.m. in the South Bronx and biked 60 miles through four boroughs, ending 12 hours later in Far Rockaway, hauling stencils, spray paint and cameras the whole way. After each memorial was installed, the family members spoke of their losses, read poems, scattered flower pedals, and called for changes in street design and policing to prevent future tragedies. The victims memorialized were three cyclists and nine pedestrians, from ages 3 to 22, who died as recently as last year to as long ago as 1997, all of whom are missed every day, and inspire powerful advocacy.
“This action was intended to honor the dead and the courage of their family members, who have pressed on despite unimaginable grief to advocate on behalf of all of us,” said Keegan Stephan, an organizer with Right of Way. “And also as a call to action to our fellow New Yorkers to listen to these families and do everything we can to make sure no one else suffers what they have suffered.”
Sammy Cohen Eckstein