Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Transportation Alternatives Memorializes Cyclist and Pedestrian Fatalities

On January 4, Transportation Alternatives (TA) held its fourth annual Memorial Ride and Walk for Cyclists and Pedestrians killed in traffic in 2008. Organized by the Street Memorial Project, the event included bike rides across four boroughs to white-painted "Ghost Bikes" installed at the scenes of bicyclist fatalities, and a Memorial Walk in honor of pedestrians killed.

In 2008, there were 14 known bicycle fatalities and more than 100 pedestrian fatalities. Out of the 14 cyclist
deaths, five were Brooklynites, said Wiley Norvell, TA spokesman.

Two rides went through Brooklyn, explained Norvell. One began in Sunset Park and went over the Manhattan Bridge, the other began in Queens and traveled through Bushwick and over the Williamsburg Bridge. These two rides, along with others that started in the Bronx and Queens, all converged in Manhattan.

These rides are intended to give a message. "We have to change the 'Wild West' atmosphere of our streets," Norvell told the Eagle. He added that there needs to be "more civility and respect" of street users.

The "Ghost Bikes," Norvell explained, are "personal memorials that call attention to the cost our streets inflict on us." Each one is personalized by families of cyclists who have been killed, and are a "perpetual reminder."

Over its past four years, the memorial ride and walk has grown, this being the biggest year, said Norvell. But the number of cyclist deaths has remained largely the same, he added. And even though the amount of pedestrian fatalities has steadily decreased over the past few years, it's not enough.

The goal is to bring the number of deaths down to zero, he said, explaining that right now, streets are designed for cars. "It would be different if safety were a priority."

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