Op-Ed: The Number One Heart Attack City

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:10

Crowding and stress make the Big Apple the most fatal heart attack city

By Bette Dewing

Upper East Side Wow! How great to see all that sky and open space, even as the community mourns the loss of the 12-story City University headquarters building which graced that 80th and East End corner for 75 years, and where East 79th Street Neighborhood Association meetings were held for about twenty-five.

Among the quality/safety of life news learned at this civic group's June meeting, now held at The Residence facility on 80th off York, was the new building, a condo, will have 20 stories, and that "the developer was cooperative." Hey, cooperative ? community-minded - enough to provide a community meeting room? Such a critical need.

And you policy makers especially, must take a look at the sky and open space at 80th and East End, and consider how the city needs more, not less of that to be really livable. Mayor de Blasio must re-think backing Bloomberg's East Midtown no-vision plan to jam in countless more office towers on streets already too crowded for safety and health. Goodbye New York's memorable skyline too.

Both crowding and stress are factors in a study which found New York to be the number one fatal heart attack U.S. city, even for tourists, which would surely be helped by the mayor's most admirable Vision Zero endeavor for a safe travel city. Nineteenth Precinct Captain Ted Sederoff described the plan at the East 79th St, Neighborhood Association meeting, but city bicyclists' stress-causing disregard for the laws of the road was scarcely mentioned. Yet it's a big-time, longtime concern of this highly active civic group, and a woman at the meeting told how she still "suffers terribly" from bike-inflicted injuries. But mostly, it's the stress engendered.

And I finally said how troubled I was that my longtime traffic safety work, for which I'd been honored at that very meeting in '06 by elected officials like Rep. Carolyn Maloney and Sen. Liz Krueger, was not being considered. For example, the finding that the number one pedestrian killer and maimer, the "failure to yield" traffic crime, needs all?out enforcement, and wherever vehicles can turn into you is a dangerous corner, not just "particularly dangerous ones." And association president Betty Cooper Wallerstein said the elder driver whose failure to yield fatally injured Belle Moser last July as she crossed with her light at the low traffic 82nd and East End corner, should not be driving. 19th Pct. Community Relations Officer Chris Helms said revoking a license is very difficult. But how about taking a driver's test?

The association now has a welcome "Bike Watcher" program, which reminds how bicyclist Roger Herz once encouraged street "yell-outs" like "Wrong way!" "Red light runner!"' and "Off the walk!" And desperately needed is a "Failure to Yield Watcher" with street yell-outs like "Failure to yield is a killer!" Kamikaze walkers do not get a pass, either.

We need to remember and heed the advice repeatedly given to the East 79th St. Neighborhood Association by then 19th Pct. Community Relations Officers, Steve Petrillo and Lou Uliano: "Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease!" And we should have squeaked out at the June meeting about 48 bike summons issued in May when that many could be given to food delivery bicyclists in one evening on any Upper East Side major intersection.

So squeak out we must - often and loud - because it really can be done, if enough of us try.