Our projects

Some visitors to this site will already know about our stenciling project, which has attracted a certain amount of media attention. Since our founding in 1996 we have stenciled several hundred sites in Manhattan and Brooklyn where pedestrians and cyclists were run over and killed. At each site, a life-size body outline is painted on the pavement, with the name of the victim, his or her date of death, and the words "killed by automobile." Several photographs of these "street memorials" can be found on the various pages of this site. Activists elsewhere who are interested in undertaking a similar project can find technical tips in our stenciling FAQ.

But we are more than the stenciling alone, and we have other work under way.

First, we have another major project in tandem with the stenciling: analyzing police accident reports of pedestrian and cyclist and skater fatalities. Over the past five years months, a dozen people in our group have entered into a uniform database a thousand or so reports on pedestrians and cyclists killed by motor vehicles, for the years 1994-1998. We intend to keep this database current, adding information for each year as soon as we can pry the reports loose from the authorities.

The accident reports are sloppy, incomplete and often biased. But they are a gold mine of information. Neither the police, nor the DOT, nor the DMV, has ever examined this treasure trove of data systematically, and certainly not to document the circumstances and dimensions of car violence in NYC.

This, then, is another important part of our work. With these reports, we intend to determine:

  • How often drivers, rather than victims, are legally at fault.
  • How often at-fault motorists are, or are not, charged with violations or crimes.
  • The extent to which victims are disproportionately poor, elderly, children, nonwhite.
  • The extent to which areas with lax traffic enforcement have higher fatality rates.
  • We intend to ask why male drivers are behind the wheel in over 90 percent of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, although they account for only 75 percent of miles driven in New York City.

We will use the database as a truth serum. When news outlets grant space for anonymous police officials to say that "serious pedestrian accidents involve pedestrians crossing against the light, wearing headphones and being mowed over by bicyclists," as the New York Observer did recently, we can counter with the truth, and get it into print, as we did in that instance.