Driver Who “Wanted To Kill” Times Square Pedestrians Charged With Murder, Alexandria Neason for Gothamist

A photo of victim Alyssa Elsman of Portage, Michigan is posted on a baricade in Times Square May 19, 2017, the morning after Richard Rojas crashed his car into a a crowd of pedestrians in New York's Times Square killing one and injuring 22 people. A US Navy veteran who plowed a car into pedestrians in New York's Times Square, killing a woman and injuring 22 other people, has been charged with murder and attempted murder, police said Friday. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Amidst outcry over driver Richard Rojas, who injured dozens of pedestrians in Times Square rampage, the village Voice interviewed cycling and street safety advocate Steve Vaccaro, who called for a more comprehensive approach to traffic violence.

The [Rojas] crash video is “the most shocking” I’ve ever seen, said Steve Vaccaro, a leading lawyer and advocate of cyclists and pedestrians. The severe charges facing Rojas were appropriate, he added, but not representative of the city’s treatment of other crashes involving the deaths of pedestrians or cyclists, and especially of the crashes that don’t result in death and are much more common.

“The danger is in people seizing upon this as an outlier and saying this needs to be punished this harshly without recognizing that other drivers, who only make it half a block on the sidewalk, and only take out one or a handful of victims instead of twenty, are also deserving of strict and meaningful consequences,” said Vaccaro.

He cited the cases of Sian Green, a British tourist whose foot was severed in 2013 when a cabbie who had been arguing with a cyclist jumped the curb and struck her (her leg was later amputated below the knee), and Denim McLean, a toddler who was hit along with eleven other pedestrians as they sat at a bus shelter in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, also in 2013. No criminal charges were filed in either case.

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