New Yorkers who have lost loved ones in traffic crashes gathered outside of the ABC building Tuesday morning to protest the recent comments by The View host Whoopi Goldberg criticizing New York City bike lanes.
As members of Families for Safe Streets, a group organized by Transportation Alternatives to shed light on those affected by traffic crashes, they’re calling on The View to bring them on air to talk about how the city’s Vision Zero efforts save lives.
Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared on The View on Wednesday, Jan. 16 to discuss his new health care initiative when Goldberg steered the conversation toward New York City bike lanes, complaining about how they’ve reduced the width of some streets.
“You screwed the city up,” she said after the mayor explained these changes were part of Vision Zero.
Less than two percent of New York City streets have protected bike lanes, according to Transportation Alternatives.
“We were horrified to see last week that Whoopi Goldberg is really inappropriately using her public platform,” member Amy Cohen told Metro after the protest. “She has an opportunity to really support the solutions that save lives. Instead, she went on the air condemning bike lanes and pedestrian islands and all the tools that are responsible for the fact that New York City has an all time low for the number of people killed in traffic crashes.”
Thanks to Vision Zero efforts, New York City traffic fatalities dropped in 2018 to the lowest numbers recorded since 1910.
Families for Safe Streets wants to talk traffic safety on The View
Cohen has been involved with Families for Safe Streets since her son, Sammy Cohen Eckstein, was hit and killed by a driver near their Park Slope home on Oct. 8, 2013. It’s a group “no one should ever have to join,” she said.
“We fight because we know all too well the price of not making change,” she said. “My son, nearly 13 years old, was killed five years ago. His friends all left for college in the fall. They’re all starting their lives without him.”
Goldberg did apologize for her comments via Twitter over the weekend and touched on the subject again on The View on Tuesday. On air, she mentioned street barriers that go up and down “that we could put [in] and people could get access to where they need to go in the event of an emergency or a holiday.”
“I guess people thought I was saying that bike lanes were bad. I was not. I was saying I think we could do a better job putting them in the city and keeping everybody safe, the bikers, the drivers, everybody,” she said on air. “So I’m very sorry if folks didn’t know that that’s what I was talking about.”
To these activists, her comments still aren’t enough.
“A true apology would not have been, ‘I am so sorry for your loss but I still don’t like these things,’” Cohen said referring to Goldberg’s tweets. “It would be, ‘I’m sorry, I read up more about it and you’re right, I didn’t know the facts.’ Like most people, they don’t know the facts until it happens to them.”
On Tuesday morning, protesters held signs and handed out flyers urging people to call ABC and ask that they have Families for Safe Streets as guests on The View. The group also sent a letter to Goldberg asking for the chance to appear on air to spark a national conversation about preventing traffic deaths.
“She needs to have us on her show and dedicate air time to talking about the huge epidemic we have,” said Cohen. “This is a preventable epidemic and a national health crisis. There are 40,000 people killed in traffic crashes across the country every year. New York City has been leader in reducing those fatalities… We need public personalities like Whoopi Goldberg and TV shows like the View drawing attention to this epidemic and supporting solutions that work.”
Cohen added that she doesn’t think Goldberg’s comments were malicious, just that the host is uninformed like many across the country about the efforts that could curb these traffic fatalities.
ABC has yet not responded to Families for Safe Streets, the group said.