Friday, October 16, 2015

11 Dead in a Month

A memorial to Kelvin Santos near Hofstra University.
Kelvin was a pedestrian killed in a car/pedestrian
crash last week. Photo courtesy of Sylvia Silberger.
If a region like Long Island experienced 11 deaths in one month from ebola, legionnaire's disease, or machete attacks, elected officials would declare a public health crisis and community resources would be put into place to try to deal with the issue.

On Long Island, 11 pedestrians and bicyclists have died from accidents.

Yet there is no press, no public outrage, and no discussion of the changes we need to make to prevent these deaths. We drive on through our suburban landscape and do not take a moment to notice the many memorials that have cropped up on our roadways.

While suburbs like those on Long Island were designed around the car and the middle class who can afford cars, suburbs are increasingly places where individuals cannot afford cars. Many residents rely exclusively on sidewalks, bikes, and mass transit to go to work, school, or shop. Also, many who can afford cars choose the more environmentally friendly and healthier option of walking or biking as their main form of transportation.

It is time for suburbs to recognize that the infrastructure of the past does not match the needs of the present. We need to rethink our reliance on cars and the investment in car culture infrastructure like parking lots and expanded roadways. We need to put precious tax dollars in building bike and pedestrian infrastructure to make our roadways and sidewalks safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. We also need to do a better job of educating drivers about pedestrian and bicycle rights.

A group of activists has formed the group Car-Less Long Island to advocate for bike and pedestrian safety and infrastructure. You can find out more about the group here. The group also has a Twitter feed here. Please post photos using the hashtag #whereismybikelane to bring attention to the lack of bicycle infrastructure in your community.

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