Road safety activists from Make Brooklyn Safer, StreetsPAC, and Park Slope Neighbors, including Amy Cohen and Gary Eckstein, agitated outside the Jan. 1 inauguration

Zero tolerance: Grieving Slope parents say they’ll hold DeBlasio to his promise to end crash deaths

The Brooklyn Paper
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Street safety advocates and Park Slopers descended upon Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s Jan. 1 inauguration ceremony to remind the freshly-minted executive that he promised to bring traffic deaths in the city down to zero by 2024.

The group of about 15 activists, including the parents of 12-year-old Samuel Cohen Eckstein, who was killed by a van on Prospect Park West in October, handed out “Vision Zero” stickers outside City Hall while brandishing a giant sign congratulating the mayor. They caught the attention of the newly appointed Department of Transportation head Polly Trottenberg, who said the ambitious safety goal is first on her agenda, according to the transportation news website Streetsblog.

“It seems clear to me that the new administration will make achieving Vision Zero a real priority,” said Eric McClure, founder of the Park Slope Street Safety Partnership, adding that he expects Trottenberg and DeBlasio to begin laying out a street safety game plan within the next few months. “The rally was definitely a success.”

Slopers, including the Cohen Ecksteins, had a prominent presence in the small crowd waiting in the cold to catch the attention of inauguration ticket-holders. Amy Cohen and Gary Eckstein have been pushing for a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit on residential roads ever since their son’s death, saying that such a limit would have saved him.

In August DeBlasio promised that, if elected, he would enact more 20-mile-per-hour zones across the city, improve at least 50 dangerous corridors and intersections, and prioritize traffic enforcement. But that cannot happen without voters pushing him, the Council, and the state to enact legislation, Cohen said.

“When there is political will and pressure from voters, change happens,” Cohen said. “Our family has been devastated by [Sammy’s] death. We cry for him every day and do not want anyone else to suffer as we are suffering.”

Cohen and her husband Gary Eckstein testified before the City Council at a Oct. 31 Transportation Committee hearing to persuade Council members to pass a bill lowering speed limits, but the law has since stalled.

Activists with the group Right of Way have devised an online “Vision Zero Clock” that will count the number of traffic deaths in real time to keep the issue fresh in DeBlasio’s mind.

Transportation czar Trottenberg will come to the office from a post as third in command at Obama’s transportation department, where she headed up a grant program and pushed bike, pedestrian, and public-transit-friendly guidelines. The car critic group Transportation Alternatives praised her appointment to rule New York’s roads.

Updated 3:51 am, January 3, 2014
Reach reporter Megan Riesz at or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her on Twitter @meganriesz.
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Reasonable discourse

Stu from PPW says:
I applaud these parents for their courage. With their help, no other parent will have to endure what they have. I hope Mayor de Blasio lives up to his word.
Jan. 2, 2014, 3:51 pm
Jbob from PS says:
How many economically disadvantaged children of color have been killed by cars on NYC streets for years with not a whisper but a couple of white kids from wealthy families die and its "stop the madness". Please.
Jan. 2, 2014, 4:03 pm
Parent from Slope says:
Jbob, if you had been at this rally, you might have met the parents of Allison Liao, 4. Their daughter was killed crossing the street in Flushing. Or if you had been at the rally we attended in Queens, you might have learned that it was prompted by the death of Noshat Nahian, 8, who was run over while walking to school by an unlicensed truck driver.

Never mind, however, that this paper is the one that chose to focus on just one family that tragically lost their son. You just don't know what you're talking about, and you probably haven't done a thing about this scourge yourself. But, hey, it's easy to yell about rich white people, right?
Jan. 2, 2014, 4:22 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Crash deaths down to zero? Then don't get rid of the Horse and carriages!
Jan. 2, 2014, 4:25 pm
Another Parent from Park Slope says:
Yes, JBob, how selfish and entitled of them to speak out for pedestrian safety after the death of their son. And why assume this family is wealthy, unless "white" = wealthy? And how is that relevant to a grieving family speaking out, or, according to you, knowing their place in the status quo? The online comments to Brooklyn Paper articles smack of ignorant nastiness like this often enough, but when it comes to topics as difficult and home-based as this, or any of the recent pedestrian fatalities, one would hope that people would give a second's thought to what they are putting out into the world.
Jan. 2, 2014, 5 pm
And another parent in PS from Park Slope says:
Bob, these parents travelled to Queens to participate in other vigils of children killed by drivers. You know nothing but your superficial and inaccurate perception that this is somehow an issue related to privilege. Why would you possibly use ad hominem attacks to speak against improving the safety of our streets and sidewalks for all, young, old, rich, poor, any cultural background?
Jan. 2, 2014, 6:08 pm
Lawrence Alvarez from Park Slope says:
These parents were incompetent for not teaching their child that one does not chase a ball that rolls into traffic.
Jan. 2, 2014, 6:14 pm
Stu from PPW says:
And what about the boy who was killed on the sidewalk in Fort Greene? Or the mother who was killed on the sidewalk in Brooklyn Heights? Were they incompetent?

Shame on you.
Jan. 2, 2014, 6:26 pm
maxim from bushwick says:
Oh Jbob.... the perpetual victim. Always the "whites" fault.
Jan. 3, 2014, 7:50 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
And if you believe a promise from a politician about something he has no control over, you are a fool who is gladly fooled.
Jan. 3, 2014, 9:47 am
J from bklyn says:
You sound like a racist? Are you?
Jan. 3, 2014, 10 am
Jbob from PS says:
Oh you holier than though elitist snobs. There have been literally dozens of poor balck and latino kids killed by cars and youve said nothing. A white kid from Prospect park West! dies and you talk about diversity and throw up a few kids of color as if youre inclusive.

Btw 2009 and 2011 there were 451 pedestrian fatalities in the five boroughs , many of them children and mostly children of color. Where were all you armchair activists then?
Jan. 3, 2014, 10:14 am
Chris from Bushwick says:
Except, Lawrence Alvarez, the child had the light when he went after the ball. But go ahead and troll these parents who lost their child, because that type of comment is par for the course on Brooklyn Paper's site. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Jan. 3, 2014, 10:23 am
J from Bklyn says:
Thanks for the answer. Racism is taught and hope your children learn the way of love and not hate
Jan. 3, 2014, 12:12 pm
Peter from Park Slope says:
Car drivers of all backgrounds think everybody
should just get out of their way.
They are selfish and dangerous.
Every time a child dies at the blunt force of
an automobile, the news features it.
The real problem JBob, is the lack of enforcement and punishment for excessive speeding by car and truck drivers by the Police and courts. Period.
Jan. 3, 2014, 2:33 pm
Brad from Bensonhurst says:
Jan. 3, 2014, 2:55 pm
Brad from Bensonhurst says:
Jan. 3, 2014, 2:56 pm
J from Brooklyn says:
Peter, I agree. But Jbob is twisting the fact that Parents regardless do not want to lose a child. Jbob ignorance has failed to acknowledge, that American History is written on reaction and regardless of ethnic background. From Rose Park, Amber Hagermann and MADD, etc. There is nothing sadder than a child or innocent life lost.
We as NYERS are a melting pot and our vote put a Park Sloper who believed in reducing stop and frisk.
What sadden is that Jbob doesn't see the need to reduce speed to avoid tragedy's especially near parks. Yet he vents his anger , his prejudice and loses the perspective that all children will hopefully have a safer environment to live in.

A tragedy occurred , let's unite to make our street safer for kids who's concern is to play . Hopefully as they grow they look upon all as one and not divided by gender, race, and sexual preference.
Jan. 3, 2014, 5:30 pm
J from NYC says:
It's going to take a combination of aggressive street redesigns and enforcement. The DOT and NYPD are going to play a huge role in this. In the past, the DOT has done what it needs to when it can but the NYPD was lacking.

More camera enforcement is needed to scare drivers into following the rules. The NYPD cannot be everywhere at once, but drivers are less likely to speed or attempt to take lights in the presence of cameras. They should blanket the city.

At the same time the DOT needs to continue rolling out slow zones with even more traffic calming features such as chicanes. This will make it much less likely a driver will reach an unsafe speed.
Jan. 3, 2014, 6:36 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
If you don't want your child to get killed or seriously injured, then look out for them when they are going into the streets. Most of those accidents occurred because of such failures. All I am hearing here and from the anti-car crowd is nothing but a scapegoat to motorists when some of the accidents weren't solely their faults. It makes no sense to lower the speed limits when the current ones are hardly enforced to begin with. This is just another way to give us responsible motorists the royal screw job as always. Overall, responsibility needs to come from both sides, not just one side here.
Jan. 3, 2014, 7:25 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -
I want to give you a royal screw job. Is that what you're into? Let me know the next time your mom is out of the house and I'll stop by (unless she's also into this sort of thing!)
Jan. 3, 2014, 8:33 pm
John F from Calhan, CO says:
You people can't be real? I promise zero deaths??? Will the Commie feed his uncle to the dogs like Kim?
Jan. 3, 2014, 9:35 pm
ty from pps says:
"Will the Commie.... blah blah blah"

John Calhan, seriously? Jesus.
Jan. 3, 2014, 10:10 pm
Barbara from Prospect Heights says:
Commie?? LOL. You understand nothing.
Jan. 3, 2014, 11:22 pm
Phil from pS says:
The real problem is loud mouth name callers who make a crusade out of the senseless death of a kid who ran into the street after a ball and "Shockingly!"
Got hit by a car. Your nastiness and idiocy doesn't give his life purpose-you want someone to blame?

Look in the mirror.
Jan. 4, 2014, 5:55 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Again, that child would have still been alive today if his parents paid attention to him when he lost his ball, and they should share some of the responsibility as well.
Jan. 4, 2014, 4:07 pm
pookie da lion from slip slope says:
run into the street - get hit by car - tragic but at end of day chalk one up for Darwin. An accident though tragic.
Jan. 4, 2014, 4:23 pm
Another Parent from Park Slope says:
The boy did not "run into the street after his ball." As has been explained over and over again, the ball did roll into the street, but he did not dash out after it. He went to retrieve it while he had the light. He slipped as the light changed, and a driver entered the intersection at full speed, not slowing down even as he saw the ball and another stopped car.
Why the Brooklyn Paper does not utilize Disqus or some other online registration system is beyond me. Comments like the ones above are one of the reasons I look elsewhere for hyper-local news.
Jan. 6, 2014, 10:38 am
Jimmie tell it like it is from PS says:
Oh give me a break, the twisting of this story by anti car zealots and folks who always want to blame someone else is absurd. The accident is tragic but it was a mistake to run after a ball into the street and if the retrieval had been done properly it wouldnt have happened.
Jan. 6, 2014, 2:04 pm
ty from pps says:
Jimmie -- Should we repeat Another Parent's comment just for you? Or?
Jan. 6, 2014, 2:45 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Jimmie, anti-car groups will do anything to get their way even if it means twisting around stories to make everyone but them look like bad guys.
Jan. 6, 2014, 7:08 pm
ty from pps says:
Tal -- Do you mean the "royal screw job" big boy?
Jan. 6, 2014, 7:15 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
As usual, the anti-car crowd likes to zoom in the effects while ignoring the causes. A child running in the street gives hardly any alert for a motorist to notice them. Let's not forget the fact that the parents weren't even looking only until after it was too late. I'm not saying that the motorist that hit him wasn't responsible, but more like not being solely responsible for his actions. Overall, I am very appalled that some of you don't blame the parents for anything in which their alertness sooner would have their child still alive rather than dead. If you asked me, this is just blowing it out of proportion just to get an agenda through.
Jan. 6, 2014, 8:31 pm

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