Let's Make New York the World's Safest City

30 Dec 2019 | 11:12

    The New York majority rejoice, and sigh with relief at Governor Cuomo’s veto of the bill to legalize e-bikes and e-scooters. Evidently, government’s first duty to protect public welfare is unknown to the majority of elected officials who passed this law, which would cause more deaths and injuries, not to mention stress, in this high-density city. Lamentably, State Senator Liz Krueger is in the minority who opposed the bill. Thank her, as well as the governor.

    The Governor veto was based mainly on the lack of helmet protection, and of course the speed, which is even more perilous for walkers already at risk for non-motorized bikes and scooters’ wholesale aversion to the laws of the road – laws too little enforced.

    Thanks, Matilda!

    Ah, but what does the governor’s 88-year-old mother and UES resident think of that? Matilda has been such a champion for various causes as the state’s First Lady and beyond. Indeed, she was honored with this paper’s annual OTTY award. And during the event’s reception she spoke to elder attendees especially about their city concerns, especially safe walking. She promised to relay the message

    Now at 88, part of the fastest growing age group, we urge her speak to her son about addressing city bike and scooter riders’ wholesale aversion to the laws of the road, and the lack of enforcement. Consider how once she was honored for mentoring youth and is likely still active but now elder walkers especially could sure benefit from her active concern.

    And we would sure like to see her on the arm of her son – and maybe she needs a walker or wheel chair - it would help the cause of elder inclusion, and Bernie Sanders’ so needed campaign to overcome elder loneliness. And yes, even elders like Matilda can be lonely, especially but not only after Christmas and Chanukah, when families often disperse – like the song says, why doesn’t anyone ever stay in one place anymore? Gotta work on that too.

    Failure to Yield Is a Killer

    But about safe walking and the alarming spike in traffic tragedies, a New York Times piece last month noted, "six pedestrian deaths in a three-day period last week served as a reminder of the dangers that still plague New York City’s streets.“ Thankfully the paper of record is now on board, but so desperately needed is regular coverage of what might best be called “traffic tragedies.” And don’t forget serious injuries. And, this is mostly about motor vehicle dangers. Obviously, the city’s Vision Zero needs to do more, especially about all-out enforcement of the foremost cause of death and injury – drivers’ failure to yield when turning into a crosswalk. On-site warning signs are essential, especially. And not only at high-risk corners. Penalties must be as strong as those for drunk driving. Distracted driving and biking have got to go – so does distracted walking.

    Be Super Visible!

    This longtime safe traffic activist, who surprisingly is rarely consulted, (gotta change that) urges walkers to, of course, obey the laws of the road but also be as visible as possible. Wear light-colored clothes after dark. If possible, swing your arms briskly when crossing. Above all, even though it means going out of your way, cross where vehicles cannot turn into you, Smile too – it sooths the brain.

    Your thoughts are most needed. Somehow, we, along with Matilda and Andrew, are going to make 2020 the safest traveling year ever. Make New York “The Safe Traveling City!” To be continued of course.

    dewingbetter@aol.com