By Nesh Pillay
More than a hundred New Yorkers gathered at the corner of 97th street and West End Avenue Wednesday night to pay tribute to two local pedestrians who were killed in separate traffic accidents.
Pink roses and candles scattered the sidewalk where 9-year-old Cooper Stock was struck and killed by a cab last Friday. On the same night, 73-year-old Alexander Shear died after being hit by a tour bus on 96th street.
While the mood among mourners was somber, there was an undeniable air of dissatisfaction as countless residents echoed the same thing: this could have been avoided.
These deaths come just two months after residents donned bright orange stickers at a Community Board 7 meeting to demand that the Department of Transportation conduct a study to determine how safe certain Upper West Side Streets really are.
Now, more than ever, Upper West Siders are calling for change.
“It’s remarkable to me that we can continue forward, as a city, when events like these are happening every week,” said Steve Vaccaro, who grew up in the neighborhood.
Vaccaro says that he, along with neighbors, tried countless times to bring the dangers of Upper West Side traffic to the attention of local leaders.
“It fell on deaf ears,” he said. “We have a transportation committee in Community Board 7 that has not taken the safety concerns of this community seriously.”
Thomas DeVito, of the group Transportation Alternatives, says that incidents like Cooper and Alexander’s deaths are occurring far too often.
“Crashes and vehicular violence on the streets of New York City are not, and should not be facts of life, “he said.
Still, he adds that he has seen a change among New Yorkers when it comes to matters of traffic safety.
“New Yorkers are really clamoring and are ready to hold politicians accountable for deaths,” he said. “Deaths that should never have happened.”
The de Blasio administration is beginning to implement changes, including pledging to give tickets to drivers caught speeding by traffic cameras.
Photos by Nesh Pillay and @1spiritedfilly.