Transportation advocates lined the sidewalk outside of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s go-to YMCA branch in Park Slope with a row of empty shoes, hoping the scene would call Hizzoner’s attention to the 22 pedestrians killed by drivers in the city since New Years.
At least, that was the plan — another pedestrian was killed in Queens during the early hours Monday morning, bringing the number of fatalities up to 23, and leaving the activists short one pair of shoes.
“We should not accept any more traffic fatalities this year or ever,” the advocates wrote on Twitter. “Would we really say that if we ended this year at ‘only’ 122 dead New Yorkers that would be a success?”
The display, which was installed outside the Ninth Street gym early Monday morning, featured quotes from the mayor himself that read “Our society can’t prioritize our cars over our children.”
The scourge of traffic-related fatalities comes on the heels of a particularly deadly 2019, when motorists killed 124 pedestrians and 28 cyclists — marking the first time that traffic fatalities had increased since de Blasio took office in 2013.
This year is on track to mirror 2019’s numbers, including six pedestrians that were killed by drivers just last week.
That recent spate of deaths includes a 7-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl who were killed two days apart while walking to school in East New York.
Following those incidents, de Blasio shared his grief at the tragedy.
“We won’t rest until the streets around every school are safe for our kids,” the Mayor tweeted.
Yet many street safety advocates panned the lame duck chief executive’s response as mere talk and demanded a quicker investment in Vision Zero — de Blasio’s signature plan to prioritize pedestrian safety over motorists on city streets.
“The city’s 1.4 million car owners dictate the livelihoods and safety of 8.6 million New Yorkers,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris. “New Yorkers cannot wait weeks, months, or years for safe streets. We must accelerate our path to Vision Zero today.”
At an unrelated press conference on Feb. 27, Hizzoner punted on the idea of banning cars in front of school buildings, saying it didn’t mesh with his idea of Vision Zero.
“Vision Zero is about getting people to handle their vehicles differently. It is not about the idea that there aren’t going to be any vehicles,” he said.
Reps at City Hall did not immediately comment on whether de Blasio had made his notorious 12-mile chauffeured drive to the YMCA on Monday, where the shoes and signs were removed at around 8 am.