On October 14, Michael Cheung’s 90-year-old mother was struck and killed as she tried to cross Canal Street. Sau Ying Lee, who lived in the nearby Confucius Plaza housing complex, had almost made it across the intersection at Elizabeth Street when the driver of an SUV hit the elderly woman. Yesterday afternoon, at a news conference called by City Council member Margaret Chin, Cheung said, “My mom was killed by a criminal driver… the New York Police Department allows this criminal driver to walk freely instead of being put in jail.”
The press event took place at Canal Street and Bowery, one of the neighborhood’s most congested intersections. In recent weeks. Chin has spoken out about a series of fatal accidents in her district, including two on Canal. From late August to late October, four pedestrians died after being struck by cars of trucks. Yesterday, Chin repeated her demand that charges be filed against the drivers. Under Mayor de Blasio’s new Vision Zero law, the NYPD can charge motorists who kill or injure pedestrians with a misdemeanor if those pedestrians had the right of way. “To not be held accountable,” said Chin,” “that’s something that should concern all of us.” The Council member praised the city for instituting the new 25 m.p.h. speed limit but said enforcement of traffic laws is another important part of the equation. “We’re here today because I want to see this street and this community become safer,” she said.
In a news release, Chin cited statistics from NYC Crashmapper showing that there were 267 traffic collisions at the Bowery/Canal intersection over a 31 month period. She noted that Canal Street is a designated truck route and said the time had come for the city to evaluate whether that’s a good idea. Chin intends to introduce legislation in the City Council that would require the Department of Transportation to study “how the designation of major truck routes affects the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.”
“I believe this bill will be an important first step in helping us seriously consider the possibility — and the benefits — of taking trucks off Canal Street,” said Chin.