Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Citywide Bike Safety Campaign Inspired by Death of Greenpoint Woman-September 28, 2007 (Greenpoint Gazette)
In September of 2005, Liz Byrne was struck and killed by a truck while riding her bike on McGuiness Blvd. in Greenpoint. Last week, two years after the tragic accident, due to an initiative spearheaded by Byrne's sister, a publicist from Seattle, Washington, New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan joined NYC Deputy Health Commissioner Lorna Thorpe, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White, and other representatives from the NYC Bicycle Safety Coalition to kick off the 2007 LOOK bicycle safety campaign.
Created pro-bono by the international advertising agency Publicis for which Byrne worked, the LOOK campaign aims to prevent collisions between motorists and cyclists by educating the public about bicycle safety and encouraging cars and bikes to share the road. LOOK campaign advertisements will run on bus stop shelters, bus tails, phone kiosks, taxi tops, at gas stations and on postcards that will be placed in restaurants around the city. The ads will be featured in Time Out NY and New York Magazine, and radio advertisements will be broadcast on local stations.
"At DOT we've committed to expand the City's bicycle network at an unprecedented pace, and today we're asking all New Yorkers to do their part to make our streets safe," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "The idea behind this campaign is simple - we're asking everyone to accept the responsibility to look out for each other on the city's streets."
The LOOK campaign was developed for the NYC Bicycle Safety Coalition following the 2006 release of the first comprehensive analysis of bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries in New York City. The report showed that nearly all fatal crashes were the result of poor driving or bicycle riding behavior, particularly driver inattention and disregarding traffic signals and signs. This LOOK campaign was designed to combat that.
In addition to improving motorist and cyclist awareness, the City, last year, committed to doubling the number of on-street bicycle lanes and paths in three years, improving data collection, analysis and reporting of bicycle injuries, and increasing enforcement to keep cars from parking in bicycle lanes.
"Nearly 3,500 NYC bicyclists were injured by cars between 1996 and 2003, and 225 were killed," said Lorna Thorpe, the Health Department's deputy commissioner for epidemiology. "The City is making tremendous strides toward a safer cycling environment, but motorists and cyclists have critical roles to play."
"Improving bike safety is a two-way street," said Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. "Drivers need to know that bikers have a right to the road and bikers need to know that drivers are looking out for their safety. That's why we all need to work together to take simple steps to share the road and keep our city streets safe."
"These forceful ads will prevent collisions, save lives, and affirm cyclists' responsibilities and rights to the road," said Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives' Executive Director.
The advertising campaign stemmed from a collective effort to not let Liz Byrne die in vain. “The ‘Look’ campaign would not have been possible without the family and friends of Liz Byrne. Thank you,” Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives said. “Thanks to the dedication of Liz’s family and friends, these powerful images will instill everyone with a simple message: look out for one another.”
"All road users must share the responsibility of following traffic laws and exercising caution for safety's sake," said Robert Sinclair Jr., manager of media relations for AAA New York. "The LOOK awareness campaign will provide the timely reminders we all need to make safety our number one priority when we're on the road."
LOOK represents a collaboration between T.A., the New York City Bicycle Coalition, the City Departments of Transportation, Health and Police, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission and the Office of the Public Advocate. "The Police Department encourages motorists and cyclists alike to be aware of their surroundings and to heed traffic regulations for both the sake of safety and courtesy," said Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.
LOOK is an unprecedented campaign both in its scope and its collaborative nature. Multiple organizations both governmental and from the private sector are coming together to put a stop to bike-related traffic accidents so that tragedies such as the one with Liz Byrne can be avoided in the future. By "looking" out for each other, hopefully that wish can become a reality.