On BPR: Councilman and activist say kids shouldn’t die on our streets

Brooklynites need to demand their streets continue to move away from their original automobile-centric design and toward a more pedestrian-friendly format, or more children will die beneath the wheels of cars, guests on the latest episode of Brooklyn Paper Radio told hosts Vince DiMiceli and Anthony Rotunno.

One week after two small children were killed at the intersection of Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue, Transportation Alternatives’ Paul Steely White and Councilman Brad Lander both agreed that cars shouldn’t own the streets, and people should — a point that was driven home Monday night during a safe-streets march in Park Slope.

“We saw an uprising last night,” Steely White said. “More than a thousand parents and kids turned out demanding we make sure our elected officials lead and get something done.”

Steely White pointed out that the reason cars seem to have the right of way on our streets is just a quirk of history that needs to be corrected, because, he claimed, during the past four years, 40 kids were killed by drivers behind the wheel.

“I’ll submit to you that if a kid walks out into the street, or a kid rides his bicycle the wrong way, that shouldn’t be a death sentence,” he said.

Paul Steely White
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

Lander echoed Steely White, pointing out that a system that instinctively lets off motorists who kill pedestrians — even when they break laws like yielding to people in crosswalks — is a big part of the problem.

“The law is the car must yield to the pedestrian, the practice is that drivers blow through and expect the pedestrians to yield,” he said. “The law-breaking in my observation is more than half the time. And there has to be consequences for that.”

The gang also touched on reeducating drivers about what they need to do while behind the wheel, creating tougher standards for those seeking a driver’s licence, and, of course, the battle with Big Auto and its gobs and gobs of liquid cash spent on enacting pro-car policies across this great country of ours (well, the last one is a bit of a stretch).

And you can hear it all right now at www.BrooklynPaper.com/radio.

Councilman Brad Lander
Community News Group / Noah Hurowitz