Tribute to Streetsblog and New York City Think Local, Act Local, Act Strong, Act Now!

In closing out the old year we would like to invite you all in your cities around the world to reflect on this. Something that our friends over at Streetsblog in New York City have just published and which is part of their long term commitment to drawing attention to the terrible injustices (the phrase is not too strong) our transportation arrangements and enforcement and legal systems are perpetrating on innocent pedestrians and cyclists on the streets of our cities every day. Shouldn’t you be doing something like this in your city?

Have a look at this uncompromising, no excuses editorial that appeared yesterday in Streetsblog’s New York City edition. You will see their sentence: “Of the 66 pedestrians, seven cyclists and one wheelchair user known to have died since January, in only 12 cases was the driver reportedly charged for taking a life.” At least one city now has someone who is doing the arithmetic and making it public. Surely a first step in the process of redressing these outrageous wrongs.

[Source: http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/12/28/in-memoriam/]

In Memoriam

Post by Brad Aaron

Each year, scores of pedestrians and cyclists die on New York City streets, while thousands are injured. Though the total number of road fatalities is trending down, those who get around the city on foot and by bike have seen their casualty rate rise.

Incidents of vehicle-inflicted violence are so frequent that many go unreported in the papers or on TV news, even when the outcome is death. Based on Streetsblog coverage, media stories and reader accounts, what follows is a record of those known to have lost their lives in 2009.

The victims listed below were killed on their way to and from work, church, or the corner store, while taking their dogs for a walk or coming home from a birthday party. They were grandparents, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, best friends. Many died alone or anonymously, their names never appearing in any public forum. Others were mortally wounded within sight of loved ones. With few exceptions, thanks to lax enforcement and scattershot prosecution of weak traffic laws, their killers are behind the wheel today. Of the 66 pedestrians, seven cyclists and one wheelchair user known to have died since January, in only 12 cases was the driver reportedly charged for taking a life.

As this list is undoubtedly incomplete, please use the comments to share remembrances of those named here, and the names and stories of those we missed.

memoriam_array.jpgSuzette Blanco, Janine Brawer, Miguel Colon, Yvette Diaz
  • Howard Adrian, 84, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 23 on Staten Island; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Ibrihim Ahmed, 9, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 6 in Queens; Driver Charged With Suspended License (Streetsblog 1, 2, 3)
  • Suzette Blanco, 20, Pedestrian, Killed June 7 in the Bronx; 1 Driver Charged With DWI and Leaving Scene, 1 Driver Hit-and-Run (News, Post)
  • Janine Brawer, 17, Pedestrian, Died Nov. 19 on Staten Island; Drivers Not Charged (Advance)
  • Donald Bryan, 31, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Aug. 23; Driver Not Charged (News, Courier)
  • Guido Salvador Carabajo-Jara, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 11 in Queens; Drivers Not Charged (City Room 1, 2)
  • Francisco Chapul, 21, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Nov. 14; 1 Driver Hit-and-Run, 2 Drivers Not Charged (Post, NY1)
  • Miguel Colon, 37, Pedestrian, Killed July 12 in the Bronx; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (NYT, News)
  • Angela D’Ambrose, 15, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 8 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Post, News)
  • Concetta DiBenedetto, 78, Pedestrian, Killed in Queens Nov. 19; Driver Not Charged (Post)
  • Yvette Diaz, 28, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in the Bronx; Hit-and-Run (News)
  • Li Qun Fang, 43, Pedestrian, Killed March 12 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News 1, 2)

memoriam_2.jpgConcetta DiBenedetto, Li Qun Fang, Marilyn Feng, Paula Jimenez
  • Marilyn Feng, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 7 in Manhattan; Driver [Jersey City PD] Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, Post)
  • Kyle Francis, 13, Pedestrian, Killed May 18 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post)
  • Joshua Ganzfried, 9, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Suspended License (News, Post)
  • JoAnne Hayden-Weissman, 55, Pedestrian, Killed April 16 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Linda Hewson, 50, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 26 in Manhattan; Driver Driver Charged With Manslaughter, DWI (Post, MT)
  • Javier Jackson, 79, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 8 in Manhattan; Driver [NYPD] Not Charged (Post, News, NY1)
  • Hugo Janssen, 73, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 13 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (News, Post, NY1)
  • Paula Jimenez, 34, Pedestrian, Died Aug. 30 in Queens; Driver Charged With Homicide (News, Post)
  • Jerome Johnson, 48, Pedestrian, Killed June 12 in Manhattan; Hit-and-Run, Charges Unknown (News, Post)
  • Seth Kahn, 22, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 4 in Manhattan; Driver [MTA Bus] Charged for Failure to Yield (Streetsblog)
  • Matthew Kim, 30, Pedestrian, Killed July 3 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (Post, News)
  • Violetta Krzyzak, 38, Pedestrian, Killed April 27 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (Streetsblog 1, 2)
memoriam_3.jpgJames Langergaard, Harry Lewner, Diego Martinez, Eliseo Martinez
  • James Langergaard, 38, Cyclist, Killed Aug. 14 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Harry Lewner, 58, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 17 in Brooklyn; 1 Driver Charged With Leaving Scene, 1 Driver Not Charged (NY1, Gothamist)
  • Vivian Long, 73, Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Manhattan; Driver [Access-A-Ride] Not Charged (News)
  • Diego Martinez, 3, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 22 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (NYT, Streetsblog)
  • Eliseo Martinez, 32, Cyclist, Killed Sept. 7 in Brooklyn; No Known Media Reports (Ghost Bikes)
  • Virginia McKibbin, 65, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 2 in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (Post, NY1)
  • Julian Miller, 45, Cyclist, Killed Sept. 18 in Brooklyn; Motorcyclist Also Killed (The Local 1, 2)
  • Virginia Montalvo, 71, Pedestrian, Killed April 7 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News, NYT)
  • Hayley Ng, 4, Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 22 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (NYT, Streetsblog)
  • Drana Nikac, 67, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 30 in the Bronx; Driver [Off-Duty NYPD] Charged With DWI, Homicide (R’dale Press)
  • Robert Ogle, 16, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 1 in Queens; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, NYT, Post)
  • Axel Pablo, 8, Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 13 in Manhattan; Driver [Yellow Cab] Not Charged (Post, News)
memoriam_4.jpgJulian Miller, Drana Nikac, Hayley Ng, Robert Ogle
  • Alex Paul, 20, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 1 in Queens; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (News, NYT, Post)
  • Nathan Pakow, 47, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 26 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Homicide (Streetsblog)
  • Pablo Pasaras, 27, Cyclist, Killed Aug. 8 in Queens; Driver Charged With Homicide (Streetsblog, Gazette)
  • Sonya Powell, 40-42, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 27 in the Bronx; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License (News, Post, NY1, WABC)
  • Ysemny Ramos, 29, Pedestrian, Killed March 27 in Manhattan; Driver Charged With DWI, Manslaughter (NYT, News)
  • Solange Raulston, 33, Cyclist, Killed Dec. 13 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post, Bklyn Paper, Gothamist)
  • Luis Rivera, 22, Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 31 in the Bronx; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (AMNY, News)
  • Lillian Sabados, 77, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 25 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License
  • Peter Sabados, 78, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 25 on Staten Island; Driver Charged With Leaving Scene and Suspended License (NYT)
  • Edith Schaller, 87-88, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 30 in Brooklyn; Drivers Not Charged (News, Post)
  • Susanne Schnitzer, 61, Pedestrian, Killed April 8 in Manhattan; No Known Media Reports (NYT, Streetsblog)
  • Juan Sifuentes, 67, Pedestrian, Killed July 15 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (AP)
memoriam_5.jpgAxel Pablo, Nathan Pakow, Sonya Powell, Solange Raulston
  • Matvey Smolovich, 25, Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Brooklyn; Driver [School Bus] Not Charged (News)
  • Catorino Solis, 48, Pedestrian, Killed Dec. 21 in Manhattan; Driver Charged for Unlicensed Operation and Moving Violations (News)
  • Andrzej Suchorzepka, 48, Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 2 in Queens; Hit-and-Run (News)
  • Dan Valle, 26, Cyclist, Killed Feb. 18 in Brooklyn; No Known Media Reports (MTR)
  • Vionique Valnord, 32, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 27 in Brooklyn; Driver [NYPD] Charged With Manslaughter, DWI (NYT)
  • Dorothea Wallace, 38, Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 3 in Brooklyn; Driver [Off-Duty NYS Corrections] Charged With Suspended License (News, Post, NY1)
  • Fred Wilson, 66, Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Post, Post)
  • Hui Wu, 26, Pedestrian, Killed Feb. 20 in Brooklyn; Driver [MTA Bus] Not Charged (News, NY1)
  • Stanislaw Zak, 65, Pedestrian, Killed June 9 in Brooklyn; Driver Charged With Manslaughter, Homicide (News, Post)
  • Unnamed Cyclist, 72, Killed June 27 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News, Bklyn Paper)
  • Tina [Surname Unknown], Pedestrian, Killed Sept. 12 in Manhattan; Driver Not Charged (News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Jan. 21 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run (Post)
memoriam_6.jpgYsemny Ramos, Peter and Lillian Sabados, Edith Schaller, Hui Wu
  • Two Unnamed Pedestrians, Killed April 8 in Manhattan and Queens; Hit-and-Runs (News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, 20, Killed April 15 in Manhattan; Driver Charged With DWI (Post)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 15 in Manhattan; Driver [Yellow Cab] Not Charged (News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed May 26 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed July 26 in the Bronx; Hit-and-Run (News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 2 in Manhattan; Hit-and-Run (NYT, News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Aug. 9 in Brooklyn; Driver Not Charged (News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Oct. 22 in Queens; No Known Media Reports (Gothamist)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in Queens; Driver Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, 48, Killed Nov. 15 in Brooklyn; Hit-and-Run, Driver Not Charged (Post)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, Killed Nov. 15 in the Bronx; 1 Driver Hit-and-Run, 1 Driver Not Charged (News)
  • Unnamed Pedestrian, 79-80, Killed Dec. 15 in Brooklyn; Driver [Ambulance] Not Charged (Streetsblog)
  • Unnamed Wheelchair User, Killed Sept. 1 in Brooklyn; Charges Unknown (News)


# # #

Look at those faces. Think of those lives so terribly truncated, simply because we are not smart or fair enough to do better. But it does not have to be that way.

We know of course the answer to this: (a) Fewer cars on the street, moving far more slowly (we trap them through slow street architecture), far better protection for all others out on the street, and drivers who when at the wheel have the fear of their life of what will happen to them in the event they are the source of incident, injury or death. This coupled with (b) clear and simple laws, that are made widely known, together with draconian enforcement coupled with strict and immediate punishment which is comparable to the offenses committed. And no exceptions or exemptions. Sometimes life is simple.

The editor, World Streets

(From our 2009 archives and worthy of your attention today) "Transport Refugees – Victims of Unjust Transport Policies"

The term “refugee” if used in the context of transportation would normally be understood to mean “the movement of refugees”. But what we fail to comprehend is that for various reasons it is our own transport systems, and the values and decisions that shape them, that are making many of us “refugees” in our own cities? It does not have to be this way.

Continue reading

AUGURI (Season’s Greetings from Italy and France)

What better way to announce a short break than to quote word for word from today’s posting of our Italian friends over at Nuova Mobilità, announcing that they’ll be back in the saddle on the 4th of January. A well deserved rest after six months of daily publication, five days a week. (Sound familiar?) Now let’s give the word to them:
Questo post solo per comunicarvi che dopo 6 mesi di quotidiano e pervicace monitoraggio sui temi della Nuova Mobilità abbiamo bisogno di qualche giorno di riposo. Ritorneremo on line il 4 gennaio 2010.

Buon Natale e buon anno a tutti.

I am sure you got that, but just in case: “This post is just to inform you that after 6 months of daily monitoring and stubborn publication on the New Mobility scene, we are taking a few days of rest. Back on line January 4, 2010.”

Read Nuova Mobilità at http://nuovamobilita.org

And if it’s not clear, clich http://tinyurl.com/nm-english for a pretty fair machine translation into English.

Editorial: Après Copenhagen. Now what?

Five times since late evening of the fatal Friday 18th in Copenhagen, I have attempted to get out a strong editorial on this important subject, sustainable transport included, but thus far I have yet to crack my task. Be patient and in the meantime remember what kind old Henry Ford once so famously wrote: “Of all the kinds of work I known, thinking is the hardest. And that’s I guess why people do so little of it”.

But should you be at all curious to follow my tortured path, during all of which I was trying hard to find a way to be at once both lucid and useful, if you click here you will find my first late Friday night attempt. If I may, there are a few thoughts in there that still may be worth a minute of your time. However upon careful inspection I decided to back away from the early versions of the posting because I found it too verbose, muddy, too roughly reasoned and still incomplete.

But above all I found that in its first iteration it was too openly, one might even say arrogantly critical, and not sufficiently positive. At this point we need to lay off the criticism and carping, that’s the past, and now get put our heads and hearts together to see what needs to be gleaned from all this terrible experience (the word is not too harsh) for the future. Which is after all ours to grasp.

Have a look at the revised version here in the next few days. I am confident that you will find it better and hopefully even of some use as we struggle to pick up the pieces from COP15.

The editor

Lessons from COP15 : Staring the challenge in the eyes. Three Failures – Three new beginnings

It’s close to midnight on this fateful Friday the 18th, as COP15 suddenly trudges unfulfilled sadly into our past. And as I sort through the debris, I am struggling to figure out what might be the main lessons of this experience. Let me share with you my late-night thoughts concerning three event-shaping failures, or at least stark short-comings which I suggest we will all do well to learn from. After all we have the planet waiting for us. Continue reading

Cheer up! On your way back from Copenhagen, swing through Bologna for a clue to a sustainable planet

Okay. COP15 has been pretty discouraging thus far. But this is no time to give up. To the contrary let’s start this next phase by energetically expanding our horizons, finding more common ground with people, cities and groups around the world who wish to act. Here as one example of something you can see every day in your own city. The great neglected overarching transportation mode that is the alpha and omega for every trip we take, is getting a close look in an exhibit in Bologna starting tomorrow.
Continue reading

You, me, technology, pattern breaks and unleashing the power of the market: Think Copenhagen Wheel

World Streets rarely gives in to “technical fix” solutions to our dual challenges of wrecking the planet and our cities staying stuck in hopelessly outmoded 20th century patterns and actions – because we know for sure that the answer lies not in the deus ex machine of technology but above all within ourselves. But hold on for a minute – let’s have a look and give some thought to . . . the Copenhagen Wheel (nice name!).

Anything that works.

As we look around the mournful Nordic battlefield this morning, at the strewn bodies, broken hopes, and hastily retreating figures and CO2 streams that will soon have been all that remain of COP15, we have every reason to be ready to look hard at any and all ideas that may hold out promise for the future, for the near future, no matter how few, no matter how strange at first glance.

So today let’s relax a bit and ponder something developed by a group of technology heads at MIT, which, surprise!, brings us right up before the necessary path to behavioral change — a most obdurate challenge as we have been seeing in Copenhagen these weeks. Still there are times when technology can help us, not only do things differently but also to do them better. To help us make, one by one, more sustainable choices. That after all is what sustainability is all about.

So let’s have a gander at the Copenhagen Wheel, an interesting playful, and idea-ful, example of how this can work. And oh yes!, let’s not stop there.

MIT’s big wheel in Copenhagen

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. —Dec. 15, at the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change, MIT researchers debut the Copenhagen Wheel — a revolutionary new bicycle wheel that not only boosts power, but can keep track of friends, fitness, smog and traffic. Though it looks like an ordinary bicycle wheel with an oversized center, the Wheel’s bright red hub is a veritable Swiss army knife’s worth of electronic gadgets and novel functions.

“Over the past few years we have seen a kind of biking renaissance, which started in Copenhagen and has spread from Paris to Barcelona to Montreal,” says Carlo Ratti, director of the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory and the Copenhagen Wheel project. “It’s sort of like ‘Biking 2.0’ — whereby cheap electronics allow us to augment bikes and convert them into a more flexible, on-demand system.”

The first goal of the Copenhagen Wheel project is to promote cycling by extending the range of distance people can cover and by making the whole riding experience smoother so that even steep inclines are no longer a barrier to comfortable cycling.

Toward this end, the Wheel can store energy every time the rider puts on the brakes, and then give that power back to provide a boost when riding uphill or to add a burst of speed in traffic.

“The Wheel uses a technology similar to the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which has radically changed Formula One racing over the past couple of years,” says Ratti. “When you brake, your kinetic energy is recuperated by an electric motor and then stored by batteries within the wheel, so that you can have it back to you when you need it. The bike wheel contains all you need so that no sensors or additional electronics need to be added to the frame and an existing bike can be retrofitted with the blink of an eye.”

“Our city’s ambition is that 50 percent of the citizens will take their bike to work or school every day,” says Ritt Bjerregaard, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen. “So for us, this project is part of the answer to how can we make using a bike even more attractive.”

But there are also a variety of extra functions hidden within the hub of the Copenhagen Wheel. By using a series of sensors and a Bluetooth connection to the user’s iPhone, which can be mounted on the handlebars, the wheel can monitor the bicycle’s speed, direction and distance traveled, as well as collect data on air pollution and even the proximity of the rider’s friends.

“One of the applications that we have discussed with the City of Copenhagen is that of an incentive scheme whereby citizens collect Green Miles — something similar to frequent flyer miles, but good for the environment,” says Christine Outram, who led the team of MIT researchers.

The project also aims to create a platform for individual behavioral change.

“The Copenhagen Wheel is part of a more general trend: that of inserting intelligence in our everyday objects and of creating a smart support infrastructure around ourselves for everyday life,” says Assaf Biderman, associate director of the project. “For example, the Wheel has a smart lock: if somebody tries to steal it, it goes into a mode where the brake regenerates the maximum amount of power, and sends you a text message. So in the worst case scenario the thief will have charged your batteries before you get back your bike.”

The initial prototypes of the Copenhagen Wheel were developed along with company Ducati Energia and the Italian Ministry of the Environment. It is expected that the wheel will go into production next year, with a tag price competitive with that of a standard electric bike. According to Claus Juhl, CEO of Copenhagen, the city might place the first order and use bicycles retrofitted with the Copenhagen Wheel as a substitution for city employee cars as part of the city’s goal to become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.


* Click here to play video

The Copenhagen Wheel team at MIT is composed of Christine Outram, Project Leader, Rex Britter, Andrea Cassi, Xiaoji Chen, Jennifer Dunnam, Paula Echeverri, Myshkin Ingawale, Ari Kardasis, E Roon Kang, Sey Min, Assaf Biderman and Carlo Ratti. The project was developed for the City of Copenhagen in cooperation with Ducati Energia and with the support of the Italian Ministry for the Environment.

# # #

Now what happens?

What about this? Let’s assume this is something that really can be developed into a serious sustainability tool, so now what?

Let’s assume that the goal – I am correct in this? – is to make the strongest possible contribution to a sustainable planet and more livable cities – what is the best, the fastest, the most powerful way in which this idea can be put to work.

Have no doubt about it, if the product really does fill a market niche, there will be industrial groups that will reverse engineer it in a few days and be able to put their own versions on the market before our MIT colleagues figure out what they are going to do next September. This brave new world, the global economy, and the forces of the market will see to that.

So, now what?

The editor

PS. Is there anyone who is brave enough to explain to our MIT friends about the perils of weird CaptALIZation? We need to save the planet AND preserve our languages. ;-)

About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Britton is an American political scientist and sustainability activist who has lived and worked in Paris since 1969. Professor of Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion (Paris), he is also MD of EcoPlan Association, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development. Founding editor of World Streets, his latest book, "BETTER CHOICES: Bringing Sustainable Transport to Your City" focuses on the subject of environment, equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions. A pre-publication edition of Better Choices is currently undergoing an international peer review during Sept.- Oct. 2017, with the goal of publication in English and Chinese editions by end-year. If you wish to participate drop a line to BetterChoices@ecoplan.org .

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