September/October 1998, p.9

Diesel Demons in Our Neighborhoods

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One Sunday evening in July, an 18-wheel tractor trailer truck leaving the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx struck six-year-old Crystal Vargas as she rode her bicycle on a traffic island a few blocks from her home. She died two days later from severe injuries. The truck that killed Crystal was careening along one of the few streets not designated as a truck route on the Hunts Point peninsula. In response to the tragedy, the community demonstrated against the non-existent enforcement of city-designated truck routes. The Vargas family and enraged friends and neighbors gathered to create a human chain at the crash location, shutting down traffic for 20 minutes.

As these huge trucks continue to menace our local streets unabated, T.A. proposes simple yet visible measures to discourage trucks from driving down neighborhood streets.

  • Install neckdowns with bollards or jersey barriers to reduce the turning radius at certain corners, thereby making it difficult for trucks to turn onto local streets;
  • Place overhead height reminders (like those on bridges) to prevent trucks from crashing into street lights and traffic signals, not to mention tree limbs;
  • Paint "no trucks" on pavement;
  • Install medians with pre-fabricated curbs on streets that are unnecessarily wide (and thus inviting to trucks).