Safe Travel First, Doggone it!

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Of course, the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics are amazing, and the latter brings nations together — and don’t we need that. But neither brings about the everyday life changes we need — like, say, safe travel. Indeed, these games are all about who’s the speediest, and what safe travel needs most, is to slow down — really slow down — yup, worldwide.

Ah, and if only safe travel got a fraction of the attention that the games, or sports in general, receive, like just one regular sports section column, or an editorial or column in the dailies. And on radio, the traffic announcer would regularly insert a “Now do be careful out there” gentle reminder, and never take collisions matter-of-factly. But the current concern is only about how collisions impede traffic flow, and how to avoid being delayed, not about staying safe.

And yes. Obviously, more safeguards are needed for Amtrak and passenger train travel, but despite the three recent tragic collisions, trains are still the safest land-travel mode. And this must be stressed to avoid cutbacks from an administration which doesn’t much like Amtrak or even mass transit.

But back to everyday five-borough transit, and traffic conditions never so congested and dense. And about my favorite mode of city transport, the bus, my first concern is a safe ride and not the so-called “pokeyness.” That’s the consuming concern of the Straphanger group and government officials who don’t even know the bus experience. Any safety-first person should protest traffic light changes to allow speedier passage, Incidentally, my heart’s in my mouth when buses too often barrel through the winding Central Park transverses. I believe they’re required to slow down there.

And my other safe-ride concern means drivers pulling to the curb, which they often don’t do. Yes, that’s an ordinance, but one often ignored to the rider’s stress if not actual peril. And the population is aging and other riders may be disabled and/or coping with children and strollers. And we don’t hear about the actual injuries incurred, such a friend’s who still suffers a serious disability from when she stepped down into a pothole between the curb and the bus step.

And, of course, there is unprecedented traffic congestion and not only in the Big Apple. We hear a lot about the great influx of Uber-type cabs but far too little about the enormous delivery truck volume, thanks to the online shopping trend (or tsunami?). And I am slow to realize how online shopping also destroys both large and small retail places which bring people together and help dispel loneliness which is now considered an epidemic.

Online shopping has also created a cardboard box tsunami condition. In-person shopping mostly requires only paper bags. Attention must be paid.

And in this nation’s walkingest city, careful walkers (yes, we exist) are still at risk from speeding vehicles, of course, but even more from drivers and bikers who fail to yield to walkers when turning into a crosswalk. And this could be a Lenten repentance related to the “Thou shalt not kill commandment.” For example, I learned quite by chance that a Madison Avenue Presbyterian church minister narrowly missed being struck by a car failing to yield — and at the same corner a week later, she was nearly struck by a turning bike. Maybe this primary cause of pedestrian injury and death experience should be included with other social wrongs addressed from the pulpit.

And St. Monica’s Church should join Patricia Banks’ frustrating effort to have a plaque installed to honor Mano (Srymanean Maniekam), the beloved local deli manager killed by a taxi turning into his York Avenue crosswalk. Remember how there was standing room only at Mano’s memorial service at St. Monica’s? Mano was Hindu, by the way.

But shouldn’t this church help get that memorial plaque installed outside the deli he managed for twenty some many years? Even local school kids needed grief counseling after his wrongful death. Ah, but above all, remember and emulate Mano’s Olympian “love one another” ways.

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