By Emily Drooby
A car sped away while another revved its engine. At the same time, a massive crowd looked on and cheered. This was the scene in the Lower East Side on Friday night, a scene that has become the norm.
“It didn’t really seem too contained,” said eyewitness Jordan Schaffer. He added, “Basically, the street here had maybe like a thousand people on it and there were cars basically doing laps around, starting on St. Marks and coming up 9th and kinda going around and around. It was pretty wild there was just tons of people on the street. And not so much social distancing going on.”
Other eyewitnesses say around 10:30pm over 25 cars parked were in the bus lane and crosswalk on First Avenue between St Marks Place and 9th Street. The cars performed various dangerous acts just feet away from hundreds of pedestrians who had gathered to watch. Cops eventually cleared the area.
This area, which is full of bars and restaurants, has become known as one of the busiest in NYC for foot traffic during the pandemic.
“And all it takes is one mistake, one small mistake, and it could cost the lives of many,” said Rita Barravecchio after watching the footage from that night.
She has fought to make NYC streets safer after losing her niece, Madeline Sershen. A car struck and killed the 17 years old while she was using a crosswalk. That’s why Barravecchio joined Families for Safe Streets.
Barravecchio said, “Very disturbing videos, during such a crazy time, scary time, that people are making these decisions to be so reckless is alarming.”
This isn’t an isolated incident, drag racing complaints to 311 have skyrocketed during the pandemic. The city has recorded over 400 since March, four times the amount from last year.
Speeding in general has also increased. Manhattan saw the largest jump in daily speed-camera violations, up 149 percent.
Recently, police have posted on their social media about catching dangerous drivers.
Barravecchio is saying drivers need to think about the potentially devastating consequences of their actions.
She added, “Pedestrians struck by vehicles traveling 25 miles per hour are half as likely to die than if someone gets hit by a car traveling 30 miles per hour, and these drag racers aren’t traveling 30 miles per hour.”