Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives Thank Mayor de Blasio for Fixing Amsterdam Avenue in Upper Manhattan

Advocates call for systemic overhaul of street redesign protocol to prevent future safety projects from being stalled
Joseph Cutrufo -
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Statement of Families for Safe Streets founding member Sofia Russo, whose four-year-old daughter Ariel Russo was killed by a driver on Amsterdam Avenue in 2013:

“Community Board 9 has been standing in the way of this crucial street safety project for almost two years, so I’m relieved to know that our mayor has finally decided to step in and fix this deadly street. Mayor de Blasio has done the right thing, but we shouldn’t have to wait for someone to be killed to prioritize safety over speed. That the mayor had to override CB9 is proof that community boards wield too much power. We wouldn’t put the administration of a life-saving vaccine in the hands of local volunteers and let them decide who gets the shot and who doesn’t. So why do we take that approach for how we design our streets?”

Statement of Transportation Alternatives Senior Director of Advocacy Thomas DeVito:

“The DOT’s plan for Amsterdam Avenue is based on a concept that has made streets safer in cities around the world, so it’s a shame that a local community board was able to delay its implementation for so long. We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio for breaking through the community board’s reckless obstruction and putting safety first on Amsterdam Avenue, and to Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Robert Jackson and Council Member Mark Levine who supported the plan. 

During the two-year period since this plan was first proposed in 2017, 26-year-old Erica Imbasciani was killed on Amsterdam Avenue near the corner of 141st Street. Predictably, the chairman of Community Board 9 said that the DOT’s plan would not have prevented Erica’s death. There’s no way to know if that’s true, but frankly, that’s not the point. The point is that New York City’s current system for redesigning streets is broken, and we need a new approach -- one that makes safe streets a matter of course, not a political football. 

There’s a bill in front of the City Council right now with 43 co-sponsors which would do exactly that. The Vision Zero Street Design Standard bill would establish a protocol to ensure that safety measures are implemented when streets are repaved. We urge Council Speaker Johnson and Mayor de Blasio to take the politics out of saving lives and pass this bill in 2019.”