The mother of 28-year-old Carling Mott, who was killed by a truck driver while cycling on the Upper East Side last month, says roads near schools should be closed to traffic — a simple if still controversial solution to make the streets safer, and one that could have prevented her daughter’s death.
Mott was killed on July 26 by a tractor trailer driver on E. 85th Street near Madison Avenue while she was riding a Citi bicycle to work. Six years earlier, the city had shelved plans for a bike path at this very spot after nearby parish schools and area Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney feared it would somehow present a “safety vulnerability,” 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, barring overspeeding cars and trucks.
“To me, even a truck on a street where a school is being held is ridiculous,” Janice Mott said while endorsing Maloney’s congressional rival Suraj Patel at a Monday news conference. “This road should be closed during school hours, or at least when the kids are coming or going to school, so the kids can get on their bikes and go home or 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, um plan to oppose the city’s cycle lane.
In that appeal, Maloney also said that a bike path on the same street as St. Ignatius Loyola Parochial, St. Regis and Ramaz School would pose “a safety challenge” because of all the “community activities that are taking place.”
The real safety challenge is cars driving on roads with children.
A Streetsblog analysis in May found that children are most at risk of being injured or killed in road violence near schools and when school is in school – during the 8am school day There are 57 percent more crashes and 25 percent more injuries per mile on roads near schools than on roads without them, and this risk is only increasing for children of color.
And as Streetsblog reported in a follow-up to that investigation, New York City is light-years behind other cities across the country and around the world where officials have cordoned off so-called “school streets” where cars are banned to protect their youngest and the most vulnerable residents.
London, for example, now has more than 500 school streets, most of which have only been built in recent years. That’s one for about 18,000 residents. Paris has more than 160 school streets or one for every 13,000 inhabitants. Even Albania’s capital has more safe school streets per person than we do.
But here in the five boroughs, as of mid-June, the city had only 41 school streets serving 38 schools, or one for every 207,000 residents.
The Department for Transport recently announced plans to redesign some roads for safety outside of schools, but nothing is quite as bold as what is being done by a total ban on cars worldwide.
Mott’s calls for safer roads near schools and dedicated bike lanes through the city came amid her and her husband James’ support of Patel in the 12th congressional district race against Maloney and Rep. Jerry Nadler, who currently represents the West Side. Transportation Alternatives and Streetopia UWS have also called for bike lanes across the city on the Upper East and West Sides.
“My daughter was a motorcyclist,” said Mott, who was standing just a block from where her daughter died. “She didn’t just pick up the bike for the first time and couldn’t control it. She knew what she was doing, a special bike path – to take her from over there to over here – would have saved her life.”
.@LeoraNevins kill it as @TransAlt Field team coordinator. early shift with @anna_ms84 for Crosstown Bike Lanes in the Upper West Side and getting ready for the week ahead at the office! pic.twitter.com/e2ezzJl32q
“John Restrepo?” (@juaninQNS) August 5, 2022
And James Mott, a traffic engineer in New Jersey, believes a special bike lane could have saved her only child’s life.
“We’re both bikers, we’ve both done the Five-Boro Bike Tour and I’m a designer,” he said. “Protected is certainly better than unprotected, but any bike path is better than what caused my daughter’s death.”
Patel had called Maloney’s call to the community leader an “abuse of power,” but Maloney later told Streetsblog that she was merely relaying her constituents’ concerns and had no real impact on the city’s decision to delete the paired lanes on E 84th and E. 85th street.