Taxi Mayhem: 65% Of Victims Are Pedestrians
Confirming what Big Apple bicyclists and pedestrians know all too well, the NYC Department of Transportation has released information showing that taxis pose the greatest risk to pedestrians - not cab passengers or other motorists. In 1994 and 1995, cabs killed 48 people: 31, or 65%, were pedestrians. The other deaths included 8 drivers, 3 bicyclists and 2 motorists.
Sadly, the NY Times and political leaders remain more concerned with what happens inside a cab than outside. Last year the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) passed a much heralded "Passenger Bill of Rights" and requiring cabbies to act courteously and provide air conditioning. The Times is again fixated on passenger safety. The press and the TLC need to wake up and start focusing on the real danger: the speeding reckless driving and sheer disregard for pedestrian safety rampant among cab drivers. The TLC should immediately begin intensive driver safety training for cabbies and place part of the responsibility back onto cab owners who lease to dangerous drivers, by heavily fining them for accidents in which their drivers kill, injure or hit and run.
Write or fax the TLC commissioner and tell her that pedestrian lives are more important than air conditioning and to get dangerous cabbies off the road.
It's been six months since the Transportation and Parks Departments proposed a big extension of car-free hours in Prospect Park. Since then, in a strange turn about, the proposal has been rejected by Community Board 6, then adopted by Board 6 and now disavowed by the city agencies. If not for the resounding support of hundreds of local residents, park users, and neighborhood groups, extended car-free hours would be buried in a bureaucratic morass. Now, the issue sits clearly in the lap of Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden. T.A. and other Brooklyn civic groups are calling on Golden to extend existing weekday car-free hours to year round immediately, pending the expansion of the hours proposed by CB 6.
Write or Fax Borough President Golden and ask him to act now and extend weekday car-free hours to year-round as the next step towards making the park completely car-free.
The good news is that NYC subway and buses still run. The bad news is that the NY State Assembly, led by Lower East Side Democrat Sheldon Silver, agreed in late July to a budget that will cripple the transit system under a crushing load of future debt and saddle riders with the cost of paying that debt. To you and me, that means trips that could cost as much as $2.50 in the next four years.
Upstate Republicans, including the Governor, have long shown they don't care about NYC transit riders. What hurts is the lack of fight shown by top NYC Democrats like Silver. Despite the urgings of T.A., the Straphangers Campaign and leading transit advocates, Silver failed to restore any of the money cut in last year's budget or to win a fairer distribution of state transit aid. While NYC Transit carries 81% of the state's riders, it only receives 63% of state aid.
Write or Fax Assembly Speaker Silver and ask him to start working for his NYC subway and bus riders. First step-veto the current capital financing plan and create something fair.
A feisty coalition of Bronx community groups, including the Bronx Chapter of Transportation Alternatives, is redoubling its efforts to get Mayor Giuliani to restore car-free Sundays on the Grand Concourse. One hundred fifty Bronxites gathered at a July 9 rally organized by the Citizens To Restore Car-Free Sundays on the Grand Concourse. The rally capped an intensive postcard campaign and media interest in the issue. Since 1991, four inner lanes on a two to three mile stretch of the boulevard have been car-free on summer Sundays. The program is the largest weekend car-free zone in the city after Central and Prospect parks, and has become extremely popular with neighborhood children, pedestrians, cyclists and skaters.
Car-Free Sundays did not happen this year because Mayor Giuliani demanded that Bronx Borough President Ferrer file a permit for the events, and then turned around and rejected that permit. The Mayor's action appears to be a jab at Ferrer, his political rival. The Mayor's spokespeople have fabricated nonsense about increased accident rates, reduced emergency vehicle access and increased police overtime. The four-year track record of the event as a safe and popular triumph, belie the Mayor's claims. The Citizens to Restore Concourse Car-Free Sundays hope the Mayor will see the favorite Sunday institution as a major boost to The Bronx's quality of life, rather than the pet project of a political rival.
Write Mayor Giuliani and encourage him to favor the Bronx's quality of life over political rivalry.