How New York City advocates are responding to their unsafe streets crisis


Portland is reeling from a record pace of traffic fatalities and a string of three horrific collisions involving teenagers in the past three weeks. Many local activists are using the word “crisis” to describe the lack of safety and irresponsible vehicle use on our streets.

Portland is not alone.

If it’s not safe for us to ride alone, then we ride together.
— TransAlt

National headlines are also calling the deaths and injuries being caused by motor vehicle operators a crisis. We’re dealing with an epidemic of car abuse and a broken system of roads, media, and laws that enable it.

New York City has seen more than there share of traffic carnage. And their main advocacy nonprofit, Transportation Alternatives, is sick and tired of it. Yesterday I got a bulk email from them that I felt was very powerful.


It opened with the “Enough” graphic above. And here’s the full text (their emphasis):

We are not giving any more speeches, friend.
We will not host another vigil.

People on bikes are being killed and injured every single day. It’s too much to bear. Are you angry? We are. And we’re ready to take action…

Transportation Alternatives decided to call for this bike protest last week after Michael Schenkman of Queens was killed on his bike. He was a 78-year-old cyclist out for his morning ride, and like many of you, he was a TransAlt member.

Michael was the 16th cyclist killed this year. That’s more than the total number of people killed on bikes during all of last year…and it’s only August. The same terrible statistic is true for hit-and-run crashes: More people have been killed by drivers who fled the scene so far in 2016 than in all of last year.

We are rallying a citywide coalition of people on bikes to ride together on September 15th. Families for Safe Streets, Right of Way, and Kidical Mass are all riding with us — and more are signing on every day. Please say you’ll ride with us.

New cyclists, teenagers, families and older New Yorkers will lead the ride, because if they are not safe, then we are all in danger. This will be a peaceful protest ride, and we need you there.

In solidarity,

Paul Steely White, Caroline Samponaro, and the whole TransAlt Team

P.S. We need every cyclist in New York to be in the streets on September 15. Invite everyone you know.

With more than two weeks until the ride 544 people have already RSVP’d via Facebook.

This is the transportation reform movement at its most powerful: Getting a huge number of people in the streets to make it clear that the status quo isn’t acceptable and more must be done. This is what was at the essence of Critical Mass, the movement that put the need for cycling infrastructure and respect on the map. This is the type of unified display of outrage that led to the Kindermoord movement in the 1960s in Amsterdam and sparked that city’s legendary legacy of traffic culture reform.

What about Portland? Do you feel like we’ve reached the crisis level? Is so, what should our response be?

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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