The mother of 28-year-old Carling Mott, who was killed last month by a truck driver while riding his bike on the Upper East Side, says streets near schools should be closed to traffic — a simple, if still controversial, solution. that would make the streets safer, and one that could have prevented her daughter’s death.
Mott was killed by a tractor-trailer driver on E. 85th Street near Madison Avenue on July 26 while riding a Citi Bike to work. Six years earlier, the city shelved plans for a bike lane in that exact spot after pushback from nearby parochial schools and the district’s Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who feared it would somehow constitute a “security breach,” as Streetsblog reported.
But the victim’s mother, Janice Mott, called the city’s failure “ridiculous” and said children deserve to get to and from school safely, without speeding cars and trucks.
“To me, even a truck that’s on a street where there’s a school is absurd,” Janice Mott said while supporting Maloney’s congressional rival Suraj Patel at a news conference Monday. “This street needs to be closed during school hours or at least when kids come to school or leave so kids can get on their bikes and go home or they can walk.
“That was the most ridiculous statement I’ve ever heard in my life,” Mott added, referring to the “security breach” voicemail that Maloney (D-Upper East Side) left on the phone of a community board member, about to lobby against the bike lane in the city plan.
In that call, Maloney also said that a bike lane on the same street as St. Ignatius Loyola Parochial, St. Regis and Ramaz School will be a “security challenge” because of all the “community activities that take place.”
The real security challenge is cars driving on the streets with children.
A Streetsblog analysis from May found that children are most at risk of being injured or killed in traffic violence near schools, and when school is in session – 8 a.m. on school days – there are 57% more crashes and 25 % more injuries per mile on streets near schools than on streets without them, and this danger only increases for children of color.
And as Streetsblog reported in a follow-up to this investigation, New York City is light years behind other cities around the country and the world where authorities have cordoned off so-called “school streets” where cars are banned to protect their youngest and most vulnerable residents.
London, for example, now has more than 500 school streets, most of which have been built in just the last few years. That’s one in every 18,000 residents. Paris has more than 160 school streets, or one for every 13,000 inhabitants. Even the capital of Albania has more safe school streets per person than us.
But here in the five boroughs, by mid-June the city had just 41 school streets serving 38 schools, or one for every 207,000 residents.
The Department for Transport recently announced plans to redesign some streets for safety outside schools, but nothing as bold as what is being done around the world by banning cars altogether.
Mott’s calls for safer streets near schools and for dedicated bike lanes through the city came amid Patel’s endorsement of her and her husband, James, in the 12th Congressional District against Maloney and Rep. Jerry Nadler, who currently represents the west country. Transport Alternatives and Streetopia UWS have also called for inter-city cycle lanes in the Upper East and West.
“My daughter was a biker,” said Mott, standing just a block away from where her daughter died. “She didn’t just pick up that bike for the first time and not be able to control it. She knew what she was doing, a dedicated cycle lane – to get her from there to here – would have saved her life.”
.@LeoraNevins kills it like @TransAlt field team coordinator. Morning shift with @anna_ms84 for Crosstown Bike Lanes on the Upper West Side and organizing the upcoming week at the office! pic.twitter.com/e2ezzJl32q
“John Restrepo?” (@juaninQNS) August 5, 2022
And James Mott, a road engineer in New Jersey, believes a dedicated bike lane would save their only child’s life.
“We’re both cyclists, we’ve both done the Five-Boro Bike Tour, and I’m a designer,” he said. “Certainly protected will be better than unprotected, but any bike lane will be better than what caused my daughter’s death.”
Patel had called Maloney’s call to the community board member an “abuse of power,” but Maloney later told Streetsblog that she was simply relaying the concerns of her constituents and had no real influence on the city’s decision to remove the pair of painted alleys at E 84th and E. 85th Streets.