Trying to Ratchet Down NYC's Street Tensions With Love -- and Valentines

Safe streets activists at the intersection of Broadway and 96th street

Traffic engineers often refer to things like speed bumps and pedestrian islands as 'traffic calming' measures. On Sunday, activists took to one particularly troublesome intersection and employed a different method of street soothing -- one that involved the judicious application of Valentines and hot chocolate.

Keegan Stephan, an organizer with Right of Way, said the point was to "love our streets."

He and about a dozen other activists were on Broadway at 96th Street on Sunday afternoon, to raise awareness of recent pedestrian deaths at that intersection and underscore the need to share streets safely. Three people have died at or near that intersection so far this year.

"We can come together to enjoy each other's company here," Stephan said. "It's a much better reality, and we're trying to put forth the reality that we want, which is much nicer than the current carnage than is our streets."

The group handed out Valentines to passersby that read, in part: "Smile at cyclists, wait for walkers, and let cars keep to their lanes...Let's take care of each other as we're moving, and make our streets safe and joyful places for travel, culture, and interaction."

(Kate Hinds/WNYC)

They also handed out hot chocolate at the pedestrian island in the middle of Broadway, although organizers didn't expect it to last long.

Participant Monica Hunken said "we need a little bit of warmth when it's really cold out here and people are harsh. I spent some time scouting out here the other day and I saw old women getting pushed out into the street to have to cross."

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to release an interagency report this week highlighting steps the city can take to reduce traffic fatalities.

Captain America, on duty at 96th Street and Broadway (Kate Hinds/WNYC)