My mother texted me this afternoon after she heard about the deadly crash in Times Square in which one person was killed and 22 were injured. All she wanted to know was that I was OK. I told her I was fine, but I felt compelled to say more.
Today’s incident, like all traffic crashes in which people are killed or severely injured, was a tragedy. But the other tragedy, I told her, is that this sort of reckless driving happens all too often in New York City. Drivers routinely mount the curb and kill people on the sidewalk, often without facing serious consequences, and never with the same amount of attention as today’s crash.
My mom didn’t check up on me after a driver jumped the curb and killed Victoria Nicodemus in Fort Greene, or when the driver of a minivan jumped a curb in Long Island City, killing Tenzin Drudak. I also didn’t hear from her after the curb-jumping crashes which claimed the lives of Ariel Russo, Mallory Weisbrod, Charity Hicks, Martha Atwater, Denim McLean, Joie Sellers, Andrew Esquivel, Tierre Clark, Kadeem Brown, Nyanna Aquil, Louis Perez, or Kristian Leka.
I don’t say this to diminish my mom’s concern for my safety. She never would have heard about any of these crashes because they didn’t make national headlines (she lives in Massachusetts). The reason we’re hearing so much about today’s incident is because it happened in the heart of New York City, it involved more than the usual number of victims, and for a moment, it looked like it could have been an act of terror. This is by no means an attempt to downplay the gravity of the crash in Times Square, but as Streetsblog‘s Brad Aaron puts it:
As horrific as today’s crash was, it is not unusual for drivers to maim and kill people on NYC sidewalks. Before today, NYC drivers had killed no fewer than 49 people on sidewalks and in buildings since 2012, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog.
It’s natural to feel relieved that this wasn’t the work of terrorists. But as long as law enforcement officials continue to allow drivers to kill with impunity and state elected officials continue to prioritize driver convenience over safety, pedestrians in New York City remain under attack.