(The letter below was submitted to Newsday on 11/16/2015. Since it hasn't been published, two weeks later, I will assume it won't be published and hence it is safe to publish here.)
Sunday was the World Day of Remembrance of Road Crash Victims. As such, it is worth noting that in just the past two months on Long Island there have been at least 30 serious traffic crashes with pedestrians and cyclists, 22 of which were fatal. (www.Car-lessLI.org/crash-list )
This comes on the heels of a report released on Thursday by the University of California that estimated that by the year 2050 cities could reduce their carbon emissions by as much as 10% and their infrastructure costs by as much as $25 trillion by encouraging more cycling. Many municipalities around the country have already found that major Complete Streets renovations have not only led to a healthier and happier population, but have been a boon to small business, sales tax revenues and property values. Of course, these overhauls also lead to fewer pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
Many localities in Long Island have begun Complete Streets planning, but it needs to be island-wide. The deadliest streets are the major thoroughfares such as Hempstead Turnpike, which happen to also be major centers of commercial activity as well. We need to make every street in Long Island safer and friendlier, even monsters such as Hempstead Turnpike.
In the mean time we can incorporate small, inexpensive changes that could save pedestrian and cyclist lives such as signage reminding turning traffic to yield to pedestrians and watch for cyclists and reminding motorists of the share-the-road policy: leave 3 feet between you and a cyclist sharing your lane. We should also ticket motorists who don’t follow these rules. Most Long Island drivers want friendlier roadways, but are bullied by the small percentage of aggressive ones who blare their horns or race around them when they deign to stop for pedestrians.
Let’s not let the bullies dictate our driving culture.
Sylvia Silberger, Founder
Car-less Long Island
* Addendum: Since sending Newsday the letter, the crash-list has risen to 34, 24 fatal. Also, I have learned since then that NYS does not have a 3-foot share-the-road law.