Henry Bliss tried to assist a woman descending from a trolley on W. 74th Street in New York City on September 14, 1899. He was struck by an electric taxi and became the first auto-related fatality in US history. Each year a memorial service is held on the corner of 74th & Park Ave. to commemorate the death of Mr. Bliss.
In 2014 16,059 pedestrians and cyclists were injured in NYC. 178 were killed. In July 2015 New York City reduced the speed limit to 25mph in an effort to prevent injuries and fatalities on city streets.
During the summers of 1965 and 1966 I lived on NYC’s 122nd and Lennox with George and Lillian Wall, both immigrants from islands in the Caribbean. I worked at nearby St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic church on 118th & St. Nicholas Ave. Walking daily from the Wall home to St. Thomas I was extremely careful in negotiating street crossing. Children in Harlem knew instinctively they were in “enemy territory” on NYC streets.
19th century NYC residents feared there would be two or more feet of horse manure on city streets from the glut of carts/buggies pulled by horses. Rather than three feet of dung, the city was soon inundated by 3000 feet of carbon dioxide and other fumes flowing from vehicles manufactured by Henry Ford. The “GM Conspiracy” is known to every law student after GM, Standard Oil of New Jersey (EXXON) and Firestone removed public trolleys in California, and then replaced them with GM buses. The process continued all the way to the US east coast. Even New Iberia, LA had a trolley service, now paved over.
With such an “advance” in transportation came a frightening increase in fatalities related to cars. Someone is injured or killed in cars every fifteen minutes in the USA. From 1899 – 2012 3,551,332 people have died in USA car crashes. Globally, 1.2 million die in car crashes. If cars were declared our “enemy” would we not have surrendered long ago? Could we not replace surrender with reduction of speed?
Thursday, August 13th, a faithful friend was “T-boned” on a busy Lafayette street as a young driver ran a red light. I phoned Bob on the 17th to inform him he was on the front page of THE DAILY ADVERTISER wrapped in frightening statistics: “PARISH TOPS FOR HIGHWAY FATALITIES.” Lafayette Parish’s fatality rate is more than twice the rate of all other parishes with 100,000 drivers.
From 1970 – 1994 I rode public transportation in Hong Kong, Cochabamba, Bolivia, Barinas, Venezuela, later in Dallas, SATX, and Houston. During one-quarter century of riding busses, subways, mini-vans I was involved in only one accident as a taxi in Hong Kong pulled out in front of a Kowloon Motor Bus. I alone among fifty passengers was slightly injured as the bus driver applied his brakes, going only 25 m.p.h.
New York seems to be looked upon with disdain in Louisiana. Since Speed vans, cameras, police patrols do not seem to make Lafayette driving any safer, could the forthcoming mayor and council please study what Mayor DeBlazio and NYC have done to reduce permanent injuries and carnage from cars?