Dr. Mehmet Oz (circled) administers First Aid to Sîan Green, whose foot was severed by an out-of-control cab (NY Daily News Photo)
Mehmet Oz and hero plumber David Justino saved Sian Green’s life Tuesday. And the Emergency Service at Bellevue Hospital provided state of the art care for Sian the moment she arrived. All of these good deeds should be celebrated.
But what if Sian’s near-fatal injury could have been avoided altogether? What if New York City could eliminate 600 unnecessary deaths a year, and some 10,000 serious, often crippling traumatic injuries? How can we use this tragedy to make life better?
Two days after the carnage, and a few blocks away, Transportation Alternatives
celebrated its 40th birthday. The bloodshed at 49th St. made it a bittersweet event.
We all want to end the kind of carnage that occurred outside Dr. Mehmet Oz’s window.
Every 36 hours a New Yorker dies in traffic; we believe (but don’t really know because of the way data is collected) that more than 10 times that number are seriously injured but survive, thanks to excellent medical attention, such as was rendered yesterday. An exponential number more sustain additional injury, such as the bicyclist in yesterday’s crash.
Many more people in New York are killed and seriously injured in traffic than from gun violence. Almost all of this death and injury is preventable:
Over the course of 10 years (1999 – 2009) in Midtown Manhattan there were:
· 8,604 total crashes
· 2,995 injuries
· 65 fatalities
After the construction of a protected bike lane and walker safety islands on 9th Avenue, the Department of Transportation recorded:
· Injuries to all street users down 56%
· Injuries to pedestrians down 29%
· Injuries to bicyclists down 57%
We must have safer streets and sidewalks for walkers and bicyclists and less congestion in traffic-clogged Midtown.
Just as we take food safety for granted, all of us should be safe to walk and travel through our streets.
With a redesign of our streets to slow traffic and promote healthy activities such as walking, bicycling, and prioritized access to mass transit, this goal can be achieved. Cities all over the world have done this, and New York itself has made great strides under Mayor Bloomberg in improving street safety: where modern “Complete streets” have been introduced, death and injury decreases 30% to 50%.
With a critical mayoral race before us, it is important that every candidate take this issue seriously.
We can do this: in the 19th century, it became quickly apparent that the built environment is critical. After the Croton aqueduct brought fresh, clean drinking water to the city in 1844, the fatality rate from cholera and yellow fever plummeted by more than 90%.
Sîan Green’s foot (circled) can be seen under the cab that struck her and a bicyclist who had the right of way (NY Daily News Photo)
"If this girl wakes up…today wasn’t as bad as I thought it was," plumber David Justino said yesterday. With everyone’s active support, we can also make tomorrow a safer healthier day on our streets for Sian and all her new friends.
You can help:
• Sign this petition started by Transportation Alternatives last year to for a “complete street” redesign of Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
• Ask those running for public offices about their positions on safer streets, and more rational NYPD enforcement (In 60% of cases, just as was the case yesterday, a speeding out of control car is involved). The political organization StreetsPAC endorses candidates who take the issue of street safety seriously.
Watch this short vide
o of TA executive director Paul Steely White at a recent City Hall rally.