The borough of Queens mourns this week following the death of Giovanni Ampuero, an energetic 9-year-old whose life and ambitions were cut short when an elderly driver struck and killed him as he was crossing Northern Boulevard. His death is truly a tragedy, as are the deaths of a handful of other children who have died on Northern Boulevard in the past five years.
In times like these, it is natural to point fingers at elected officials and ask them to do more. And they should. The advocates at Make Queens Safer have several great ideas, such as increasing the penalties for hit-and-run criminals, creating comprehensive School Traffic Safety plans and pushing the City Council to adopt the Vision Zero Design Standard. We at the Queens Tribune support all of these positions.
But we should also praise the de Blasio administration and politicians who have supported his Vision Zero plan because they have made great strides in making our streets safer. Pedestrian fatalities have declined 45 percent since Vision Zero’s implementation, saving hundreds of lives. Laws have been strengthened and the city and state have spent millions in capital improvements.
We can and will demand more from our elected officials. But if we truly want to reach the goal of zero pedestrian fatalities, the people of Queens—and the other boroughs—also need to take more responsibility.
We need to slow down when we are driving. We need to pay more attention when we are walking or riding our bikes. We also need to have difficult conversations with loved ones who we know shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car.
Politicians and public servants cannot solve this problem alone. We all need to help by fostering a culture of safe streets, so we don’t lose another promising life like Giovanni Ampuero.