Jill Abramson on New York City's Pedestrian Death Epidemic: 'We Know The Causes'

Jean Chambers was in the crosswalk, with the signal in her favor, when she was struck and killed by a driver at West 95th Street and West End Avenue on July 10. That day Chambers became the fourth pedestrian struck and killed within one two block radius on the Upper West Side in the last six months.

Seventy three-year-old Alex Shear (at West 96th and Broadway) and 9-year-old Cooper Stock (West 97th and West End Ave) were both killed on January 10. Nine days later, 26-year-old Samantha Lee was struck and killed at West 96th between Broadway and West End Ave.

The cause of these deaths, and scores of others across the five boroughs, isn't a mystery, says ex-New York Times editor Jill Abramson. Abramson, who was herself hit and nearly killed while crossing a street in 2007, attended a vigil for Chambers held at the crash site on Thursday, July 17. Chambers was a former employee of the New York Times.

"We know the main causes. It's usually--people who are killed are usually crossing the street in the crosswalk, crossing with the light, and it's either speeding or failure to yield. It's driver fault," Abramson told the Voice. "And study after study tells us that."

Abramson has a special interest in pedestrian safety issues because of her own accident. "It gives you a kind of life-long anxiety that is probably, in some ways, a protective coating," she said. "I was crossing with the light and paying attention, but now I mean I never step off of a curb until the light has changed. I think about the danger that exists on the streets of this city for people walking every single day."

Abramson revisited her near-death experience in an article she wrote for the Times in May. The piece mentioned, in passing, the death of 9-year-old Cooper Stock, one block from the spot where Jean Chambers was killed exactly six months later. Shortly after it was published, Abramson met with Stock's mother, Dana Lerner, who worked to pass Cooper's Law, a measure instituting immediate suspension for any cab drivers who strikes a pedestrian. Abramson praised Lerner in a commencement speech delivered at Wake Forest University in May. "She is taking an unimaginable loss and already trying to do something constructive. We human beings are a lot more resilient than we often realize," she said.

On Thursday Abramson said further measures need to taken to protect New York pedestrians. "The failure to have any criminal consequence when a car killed someone and a driver is to blame is a problem that needs to be looked at," she said.

Video by Amanda Dingyuan Hou and Lea Zora Scruggs for the Village Voice.

See also: Video: This is the Deadliest Intersection in New York


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27 comments
secretstash
secretstash

By law, pedestrians always have the right-of-way, so any time a car impacts a pedestrian, it failed to yield. 


However, it ignores the fact that, in some cases, the pedestrian put himself/herself in a risky situation. Further, it doesn't solve anything.  

oofs
oofs

show me 5 examples of pedestrians killed by people driving cars that were neither speeding nor breaking any other traffic laws and I might pay any attention to your ranting about folks "wandering" into the street.

Adriana M Bemis
Adriana M Bemis

So its not the idiots walking in the street on their phones. Right

Denise Dilemma
Denise Dilemma

How about people WATCH where they are going! How many times I see people blindly walking across the street or looking at their phones? It's not all about you douchebag! And bike riders think they are exempt from rules of the road! We are not in Kansas anymore Ethan!

Patrick Lew
Patrick Lew

Oh so she should just squeeze into a job cannon and get fired off into job land where jobs grow on jobbies? What do you do that makes you think you're so fucking special? Being an asshole on the internet? Or, let me see.. a bartender? Hey bro, get me a beer.

Patrick Lew
Patrick Lew

You sit on your ass all day long driving a truck, so you must be a tough guy. Shut up, your sense of entitlement because you drive a vehicle is hilarious. Who has the power to maim and kill people? That's right, assholes behind the wheel like YOU.

Elnobelwriter Ensen
Elnobelwriter Ensen

This morning, I too almost became a statistic. Light turned red at Willoughby Street & Flatbush Ave, a 3 lane road. Cars on left/right stopped tho couldn't see middle one and started to cross when a car sped through the light. If I had run across he would have mowed me down.

Peter Gracia
Peter Gracia

Damned right...she should mind her own business and get a real job, that crone.

Kevin Duval
Kevin Duval

I drive trucks all day everyday for a living and I personally watch it happen constantly so stick your smart ass remark up your ass. People wander into the streets all the time, I watch women push their baby carriage into the street in front of them while they still have don't walk sign. Don't blame everyone else because you like to walk a around with your pretentious beatz headphones on looking at your phone and not where you're walking

Patrick Lew
Patrick Lew

Didn't realize morons who wander into the street had the capability of travelling well over 40mph on city streets while weighing over 2 tons.

Kevin Duval
Kevin Duval

Yeah it's always the driver, not the morons who just wander into the street oblivious to their surroundings

jonathan.nyc
jonathan.nyc topcommenter

Enforcement of NYS phone & driving law needs to be stopped up. 

jdavidsen1
jdavidsen1

Is there any evidence that any of the people in the article were on cellphones? The old man? The kid holding his father's hand? 

sted.ruckus
sted.ruckus

This epidemic predates cell phones, so you cant blame people on their phones.

sted.ruckus
sted.ruckus

Considering that these deaths have been happening for a lot longer than the existence of cell phones, you cant blame it on cell phones.

sammydavisjrjr
sammydavisjrjr

Jean Chambers had a WALK light. Just like 70% of the pedestrian killed by cars in this city. It helps to know some facts and statistics instead of just relying on your gut feeling. Please take the ignorance and vitriol elsewhere.

sammydavisjrjr
sammydavisjrjr

Wow! Didn't know you could fit that much ignorance in one paragraph! 


So what you have to say about the thousands of drivers playing with their iphones while driving?

jdavidsen1
jdavidsen1

Can you give us the statistics on this? And links? thanks

sammydavisjrjr
sammydavisjrjr

Right, the pedestrians need to be the ones on the lookout (because sometimes cars jump the curb "by accident" twitter.com/curbjumpingnyc. The cars, well, they're just driving!

jdavidsen1
jdavidsen1

explain, if you don't mind, what lead you to the conclusions she's an old battle axe? 

sammydavisjrjr
sammydavisjrjr

@sted.ruckus Actually, you can blame cellphones - the ones used by drivers.... It's at epidemic proportions!

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