Donna Sturm, who was crossing 57th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues when she was felled by a cyclist who ran a red light, has died. Strum, 67, suffered traumatic brain injuries in the April 24 accident.
If ever a “How long, dear Lord, how long?” lament applied. And it’s not only in New York City — my Sacramento-based late cousin’s foster daughter telephoned, “I thought of you today when TV news called for bicycles to stop running red lights.”
To my knowledge, the April 25 item at the bottom of page 19 in the Daily News was the only print medium airing this grievous injury story. A photo showed the roped off scene of the crime. But CBS and the News had conflicting addresses But that’s a quibble, because, as the victim’s employer said on CBS, “All we who work and live in the city do so at our peril because of bikes speeding through red lights at intersections, and going the wrong way. They should all have license plates for accountability. We pray for Donna’s recovery from this tragedy.”
Vision Zero for BikesWould it were not all intersections, and not only prayers are needed but concerted action by Donna’s company, Verdura jewelry, to organize against these ubiquitous threats — a Vision Zero program related to bike inflicted injuries and deaths.
Aside from my Pedestrians First group effort, the only other such endeavor occurred 10 years ago when the wife of 51-year-old Stuart Gruskin formed a safe traffic foundation after his wrongful death by a wrong-way-riding food delivery bicyclist. And it was only because of the wife’s million dollar lawsuit against the restaurant, that there was media coverage of this death. Sadly, the foundation no longer exists, but Stuart’s mother forever mourns the terrible loss of her son.
And consider that Donna Sturm may also have a mother, father and children, whom media often forget. Which also relates to what was intended to be a Mother’s Day column. Remember Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, an invaluable group, and how a comparable group, with fathers also, is needed to protest cyclists’ lawless riding.
The mayor’s most admirable Vision Zero program came about only because parents grieving over children killed by cars demanded attention be paid. And if Donna Sturm and Stuart Gruskin had been children, infinitely more attention would be paid to cyclist’s habitual traffic law-breaking. And there would be registration and license plates for all city bicycles.
Speak Up!Ironically, few know that commercial bikes must have identifying plates and their company name on their jackets. But do they? The Department of Transportation has always resisted license plates and registration for non-commercial bikes, nor acknowledged the extent or the danger of bikes running lights, riding the wrong way, failing to yield, not to mention speeding.
This safe traffic activist believes all city bikes should make a nice little sound — for riders’ safety, as well as others sharing these high density streets. Of course, pedestrians must obey the laws.
As usual, I urge concerned readers to contact elected officials and community boards listed in this paper’s Useful Contacts column. No more ignoring bike violations. We must talk about it, a lot, and when out on the streets, speak firmly but politely to the offenders. Use words like “Red-light runner!” “Wrong way!” and “Off the sidewalk please!” This would make a real difference. Remember: “All it takes for evil to triumph...”
And I am most grateful for Susan Siskind’s safe travel help, and for contacting CBS TV. And how we need more community board members like Barry Schneider to support this still relatively unaddressed, unsafe and illegal behavior. And yes it relates to Mother’s Day, because a mother’s foremost concern is for her offspring’s’ safety and well-being -- one that lasts forever and ever. Amen.