Speed Bumps

In Buffalo we live two blocks from Delaware Park, a lovely Olmsted-Vaux creation. In the 1970s a benighted group of city Fathers (surely not Mothers) launched an effort to slice the Park in half with an expressway, named The Scajaqada, presumably to honor some Native American speedsters. Think Central Park with a high speed expressway from 59th Street right up to 110th.

We walk to the park most summer evenings and do a two mile loop there, but to get there, we have to cross Parkside Avenue, which serves as an exit from the Scajaqada. Despite it being a city street,much of the traffic seems to consider it an extension of the highway, and barrel along, ignoring the houses on the right, and every so often a car crashes into that sad house on the curve.

Recently some of those flashing speed readers were installed, and as we wait, and wait, and wait to cross, it is mesmerizing to see how few cars even approach the 30 mph limit. Will this reminder work? We will see. The Department of Transportation is fighting every effort by the local citizens to curb traffic on the Scajaqada, and make it crossable on foot.

Once again the car is King.

In Brooklyn, my other home, bike lanes are being installed, as they are throughout New York City. Thank you, Major Bloomberg. You may have a tin ear regarding many middle class concerns, but I love your biking initiatives.

Sadly, along with the increase in bicyclists is an increase in bike deaths, memorialized by the white “ghost bikes” adorned with flowers and chained at the fatal sites. A young girl was killed on our corner. A driver “doored” her ( my autocorrect was insisting on “doomed” there) and as she swerved to avoid the open door, she was hit by a bus. Up the street is another ghost bike, though I don’t know the story on that one.

I have also seen reckless bicyclists, the bane of drivers and pedestrians. They should be ticketed, fined, and banned if necessary. But there should be some accountability for drivers who strike and kill pedestrians and bicyclists, and that is currently lacking.

Apparently our current Police Commissioner insists that these deaths are “accidents” and nothing much is done in the way of investigation or prosecution unless a police officer actually witnesses the encounter. With a new Mayor there will be a new Police Commissioner. I am hoping for one who values two legs as much as four wheels. One current contender, ex-Commissioner Bratton, has said he will make pedestrian and bike safety a priority, installing cameras to catch cars running red lights and speeding, and actively following up on deaths. He also wants more speed bumps. There are some up the street from us now, and a favorite spectator sport is watching the cars that fly over at unseemly speeds, and then crushingly bottom out.

But overall now I am reminded of “Animal Farm” and “Four legs good, two legs bad”. though in New York it is “Four wheels good, two wheels (legs) bad,.”

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