Local parents of crash victims, advocates rally for safer streets across the state

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Advocates are calling for safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists in New York, urging lawmakers to take action.

On Wednesday, elected officials, bike activists, and families held a rally in Rochester to call on state lawmakers to pass the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act

The legislation is a package of eight bills that would address issues like excessive speeding, reckless and impaired driving, safer vehicles, and it would also add more protections for victims of crashes. 

This week, activists are traveling 1,000 miles across the state to make their voices heard: one mile for every New Yorker killed in traffic annually. 

“We’re stopping at all kinds of places. We’re stopping at both where crashes and deaths have occurred. We want to commemorate these lives that have been needlessly stollen, both from the people themselves and from their families,” said Rebecca Sonkin, a member of Families for Safe Streets. 

Advocates at Wednesday’s rally in Rochester said the streets belong to everyone. 

“They belong to pedestrians, to cyclists, and to the cars, and they need to learn to share them with everyone,” Sonkin said. 

Sonkin lost her brother in a crash and she wants this legislation to provide more support for victims and their families. 

“No one should have to suffer as our families have done. We fight in their name. We press for change in their names and for the future of other families,” Sonkin said. 

Patrick Lynch from Irondequoit is in favor of the legislation.  He lost his son, Michael Lynch, in 2017. 

Michael was walking to high school, a block away, when he was hit by a vehicle. 

“He was thrown about 15 feet or so. The driver cut her wheels to the left and threw him off her car so he rolled another significant distance,” Patrick said. 

Patrick said Michael was an honor student who was heavily involved in theater and was an excellent writer. He said his son would often check in on his friends. 

“He had a heart of gold and would do anything for anybody. He was taken way too soon,” Patrick said. 

Although some changes have been made where Michael was hit on Cooper Road, Patrick says more needs to be done. 

“I want to see enforcement. This speed limits that are in place that are not enforced. To this day, where Michael was hit, there are times where they are driving over 30 miles per hour down that road,” Patrick said. 

On average, three New Yorkers die each day in traffic crashes and advocates say it’s time for change. 

“Three people every day, day after day, year after year, unabated for the last hundred years, and there is no end in sight. We are doing this to draw attention to the scale of this problem and the fact that it is preventable and to urge passage of eight bills,” said Amy Cohen, the Co-Founder of Families for Safe Streets. 

Officials say several of the bills have passed through committee votes in the Senate and are expected to be voted on the floor. However, advocates say they aren’t moving fast in the State Assembly.

Wednesday’s rally in Rochester was just one stop for the activists. The group will also be visiting Albany, Long Island and ending in New York City on Friday.

You can read more about the Crash Victim Rights and Safety Act here. 

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