16 year old Renee Thompson didn’t have to die. She shouldn’t have died. Her death was preventable.
Her brother Gregory shouldn’t have had to stand with us yesterday, invoking his sister’s memory. Renee and Gregory should have been enjoying a beautiful summer morning together. A morning free of worries and regrets. A morning full of dreams, ambitions and hopes that the halcyon years of our youth allow us to envision.
114 people + in NYC are dead this year because a someone driving a motor vehicle struck and killed them. None of them had to die. Nor did any of the people in the preceding years or those that will lose their lives in the coming days.
Yesterday morning, more than 100 of us gathered on the steps of City Hall to lend our support and our voices to the fight for safer streets. We stood for the families whose lives have been ripped apart. Whose lives have been ripped apart because our culture still prioritizes motor vehicles. Whose lives have been ripped apart because our police departments don’t have the where-with-all to prioritize safety for the most vulnerable street users. Whose lives have been ripped apart because there’s not enough accountability for drivers when they hurt, maim or kill.
I wish the numbers of people who showed up had been in the thousands. Not because I wish that more people had died but because I wish more people cared about this issue. What will it take for the next person to get involved? Does someone close to you have to get hurt or die? I hope not. Get involved before your lose someone you love.
I don’t want to have go to a rally like this again- but I’m not holding my breathe that we won’t have to repeat the action we took today. Our streets are safer today than they were a decade ago but they’re still not safe enough. One death is too many.
For those who couldn’t make the rally or didn’t know about it- you can still make a difference. Go to your local community board meetings and make your voice heard. Get involved with and support organizations like Transportation Alternatives that care about safer streets for people. Get informed about the issues by reading Streetsblog. Share what you’ve learned with others. Spread the word. Write or call your elected officials. Visit your local precinct. Vote for the people who believe in safer streets. Vote for the candidates who are endorsed by StreetsPac.
We need to follow in the footsteps of the Netherlands and put an end to these preventable deaths. It’s time to take back the streets from motor vehicles and give priority to people on foot and on bicycle. The solution exists- we need to make it happen. It’s time to make our streets more livable- a place where children and the elderly can feel safe walking or biking to get where they need to go. This is a civil rights issue. Each and everyone of us deserves the right to safe passage.
Demand your right of way. Traffic deaths are preventable. Choose people, not cars.
Not one more.