Sunday, February 16, 2014 – 04:56 PM
By KATE HINDS
Traffic engineers often refer to things like speed bumps and pedestrian islands as ‘traffic calming’ measures. On Sunday, activists took to one particularly troublesome intersection and employed a different method of street soothing — one that involved the judicious application of Valentines and hot chocolate.
Keegan Stephan, an organizer with Right of Way, said the point was to “love our streets.”
He and about a dozen other activists were on Broadway at 96th Street on Sunday afternoon, to raise awareness of recent pedestrian deaths at that intersection and underscore the need to share streets safely. Three people have died at or near that intersection so far this year.
“We can come together to enjoy each other’s company here,” Stephan said. “It’s a much better reality, and we’re trying to put forth the reality that we want, which is much nicer than the current carnage than is our streets.”
The group handed out Valentines to passersby that read, in part: “Smile at cyclists, wait for walkers, and let cars keep to their lanes…Let’s take care of each other as we’re moving, and make our streets safe and joyful places for travel, culture, and interaction.”
They also handed out hot chocolate at the pedestrian island in the middle of Broadway, although organizers didn’t expect it to last long.
Participant Monica Hunken said “we need a little bit of warmth when it’s really cold out here and people are harsh. I spent some time scouting out here the other day and I saw old women getting pushed out into the street to have to cross.”
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to release an interagency report this week highlighting steps the city can take to reduce traffic fatalities.
- Kate HindsKate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Rather than a manifesto warning others that cyclists will have their way, the folks in New York City eschew the brash arrogance of the Chicago Urban Cycling Movement to offer a “kind and gentler face to the public“. Someone needs to clue in the Active Transportation Alliance to get in touch with John Boehner. He has been dealing with the Radical Rightists (i.e. Tea Party) inside the GOP. And of late he has been showing some leadership and strength. Perhaps the same can happen here.