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Response to NYC Traffic Violence Rooted in Ignorance
Posted By Charles Komanoff On January 25, 2011 @ 4:11 pm In Media Watch,NYPD,Street Safety | 48 Comments
Even with New York City pedestrian deaths dropping in recent years, there’s no end in sight to the horror from driver-caused deaths, and little letup in police fecklessness and politicians’ and media grandstanding on traffic dangers.
This morning brought news of the death of Laurence Renard  yesterday evening on the Upper East Side. The 35-year-old French fashion stylist was crushed under a dump truck that turned from 90th Street onto First Avenue and into her path. While details are sketchy, as usual, Renard presumably had the right-of-way over the turning truck, which a witness said  “came around the corner like a bat out of hell.” Nevertheless, the only charge filed thus far is for driving with a suspended license.
Renard’s death is eerily similar to that of Jason King  last month. King, a 21-year-old student who also worked at nearby E.A.T., had been crossing Madison Avenue at 81st Street when he was run over by a dump truck being driven illegally  in reverse. “No criminality was suspected” in King’s death, the NYPD told  Streetsblog then, despite a report  that King was in the crosswalk when the truck driver backed over him and dragged him thirty feet before stopping. The driver was not charged.
Meanwhile, reports are surfacing of a traffic-related death two weeks ago in Queens Village. According to CBS2 , 72-year-old Robert Hudson suffered a fatal heart attack after a dispute that began when police attempted to cite his wife Doris for not wearing a seat belt. Mrs. Hudson claims that officers forced her husband to walk a half-mile home to retrieve her ID, although police officials contend Mr. Hudson did so of his own volition. Regardless, shortly after returning and driving off, and likely stressed from the encounter with NYPD, Mr. Hudson suffered a massive seizure and died at Franklin Hospital.
What links these deaths, beyond their human tragedy, is a traffic “safety” ideology that blames victims instead of perpetrators, fetishizes silver bullets like seat belts and bike helmets at the expense of promoting a genuine safety culture, and misdirects enforcement toward trivia and away from the actual sources of danger. Consider:
Just as gun sales reportedly rose after the Tucson shooting rampage, look for politicians like Brooklyn Senator Carl Kruger  to react to the deaths of King and Renard by redoubling efforts to rein in pedestrians; and for know-nothings like gossip columnist Cindy Adams to resort to shameless name-calling  in the Post’s vendetta against DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
Better, perhaps, to recall the wisdom of Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Sadly, these words will offer little consolation to the families and friends of Renard, Hudson and King.
Article printed from Streetsblog New York City: http://www.streetsblog.org
URL to article: http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/01/25/response-to-nyc-traffic-deaths-rooted-in-ignorance/
URLs in this post:
 death of Laurence Renard: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/01/25/2011-01-25_truck_kills_fashionista_e_side_rushhour_accident.html
 said: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/truck_kills_woman_on_side_WzBF0kHbg1iLTrIaBYm1nM
 Jason King: http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/01/25/2010/12/07/truck-driver-backs-over-kills-pedestrian-on-ues-nypd-no-criminality/
 illegally: http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/01/25/2010/12/07/truck-driver-backs-over-kills-pedestrian-on-ues-nypd-no-criminality/#comment-282439
 report: http://www.dnainfo.com/20101207/upper-east-side/pedestrian-hit-killed-by-dump-truck-on-madison-ave
 According to CBS2: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/01/24/queens-widow-nypd-responsible-for-my-husbands-death/
 PDF: http://www.cars-suck.org/research/kba_text.pdf
 safer for all users: http://www.howwedrive.com/2011/01/20/a-response-to-hainline-steisel-and-weinshall/
 withdrawn last June: http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/01/25/2011/01/25/todays-headlines-1062/#comment-285705
 Carl Kruger: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/01/24/us/AP-US-Distracted-Walkers.html
 shameless name-calling: http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/cindy_adams/jake_taylor_split_wsTP45FkLAXpCo2aiFjbTP
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