In a story we excerpted in this week's paper, "Why Cars Are Killing People," (p. 12), writer Hunter Oatman-Stanford delves into the history of vehicle-pedestrian collisions in urban areas, and reveals that they weren't always seen as the tragic and unavoidable accidents they are often categorized as today. In the early days of automobiles, drivers were solely responsible for keeping their machines out of the way of walkers, and they paid stiff penalties when they hit someone.
Of course it's impossible to go back to that time, but there are ways that New Yorkers can and should resurrect a small piece of the mentality that city streets are shared spaces, not just for cars. The de Blasio administration can help by picking up where Bloomberg left off and creating new pedestrian plazas in the midst of busy traffic areas.
These small havens for the fast-walkers, stroller-pushers, and scooter-riders among us contribute to the city's overall attitude toward traffic and pedestrians, and they send the signal that we can create safe spaces, even in the middle of the street.