The year was 1996, Giuliani was our mayor, and the headlines were telling New Yorkers that crime rates were going down. Yet the streets felt dangerous –not from muggers, or aggressive squeegee men– rather dangerous from aggressive drivers. This insight led me to conceive the Stencil Project, where a full size human outline was painted at the site of a fatal pedestrian-vehicle collision with the pedestrian’s name, date of their death and the words “killed by automobile”. Some have made the case that this project introduced NYC to pedestrian activism and the modern idea of pedestrian safety. Today, we call it The Memorial Project and we’re bringing it back in a modern context to areas where unfortunately this thinking is still relevant.
According to the World Health Organization 1.24 million people were killed on the world’s roads in 2010. In the United States the number is 32,885. That’s not a typo even though we wish it was. This is a big number, representing a truly staggering and profound loss of life. The number of people injured on the road is exponentially higher. Who amongst us doesn’t know someone who was killed or seriously injured in an automobile crash?
At Citysteets we have always seen our role as not pointing out problems but coming up with solutions.
From Citystreets’ perspective texting while driving is not the root issue at play, rather the mentality, perhaps the over-confident or absent mindedness of even the most skilled drivers that leads to dangerous behavior like texting or emailing behind the wheel. So what’s at the root of that routine carelessness?