Last Night, a memorial for Hope Miller
Yesterday, 6:30pm, with the night time construction of a mangled Houston Street as a backdrop, Time's Up held a memorial for Hope Miller who was killed by a car on September 25th, last week. According to the NYTImes, Ms. Miller, an actor from Queens, was struck down by a truck while crossing the street at 6th and Houston. The Driver, a man from Brooklyn, was arrested by the police trying to flee the scene and was found to be driving while under the influence of drugs when he ran down the young 28 year old woman.
Gothamist reported that Miller was an aspiring actor on her way to acting class.
This marks the 4th fatality on Houston Street of pedestrians and cyclists within the last 2 years.
Houston street has becomed mired in controversy due to the number of deaths and to the massive construction that has been taking place there.
Local community residents, working with City Councilman Alan Gerson have been fervently working to make Houston Street safer for cyclists and pedestrians. The idea of putting in bike lanes was struck down by the City because they claimed there was no room. Local community board 2 then opted for alternative lanes on Bleeker and Prince streets as reported on by Streetsblog in April of 07.
Councilman Gerson has resorted to sueing the Department of Transportation and the city itself, alleging the Houston Street project "constitutes a present and future public nuisance and health, safety, and welfare hazard to area and community pedestrians and to bicycle riders."
About 30 people came with flowers, candles, cameras and their dedication to a better city to pay respects, speakout and listen to those involved in the issues of a street that is unsafe and emblimatic of our lack of infustructure for pedestrians and bikers.
Yesterday was not just a chance for reflection but a platform for people to air views about a situation that doesn't seem to be improving.
Bill Depola spoke first about how talk is cheap and visual reminders like the ghost bikes and dedication plaques are a positive way to increase awarness of the problem.
Then Council member Gerson spoke about when is our city going to make pedestrian safety priority number one. He wanted to know when this is going to end? Gerson beleives New York City should be a model for the world of how a city should be structured for public safety. He told the crowd not to give up and that their vigilance should inspire government officials to act.
Then Charlie Komanoff spoke from Right of way. He wanted to make several points.
1) was that the corner of Houston Street and 6th Ave. right behind the memorial was a park that was at the center activists trying to stop the bike ban. 20 years ago in the park bike messengers and community activists worked together to stop Mayor Koch for imposing a bicycle ban from midtown. It was a fitting place for people to commorate someones tragic death due to the automobile.
2) it was Mahatma Gandhi's Birthday.
3) That it was 10 years ago that a 6 year old boy form the South Bronx was killed by a motor vechile, Dante Curry. Charlie spoke about how Evelyn Cancel, Dante's mother, will never get over the tragic loss of her son, but knowing that people still care and create memorials is an inspiration for her and her pain.
Other people spoke to about the disruption of Houston Street. Candles were lit and a memorial stencil was created on the street in honor of Hope Miller as well as the unveiling of her plaque which hangs on the metal fence on the South East corner of 6th and Houston.
More of my pictures of the memorial are on flickr slideshow
Somehow with all this fuss and focus on one of the most heavily used artieres in Manhattan, we still find ourselves hanging plaques, painting ghost bikes and honoring our fellow killed citizens. While the jackhammers continue to roar and traffic gets backed up along 6th Ave. maybe we can build memorial Gaps and Banna Republics to honor those who died so we could make more room for big box corporate chain stores and less space for those who live here. Somehow Billionaire Mayor Bloomberg has time to go to Paris to see how their bicycle program is working to increase public safety, but not enough time to address his own citys urban clusterfucks that are killing us.