Already curious about street safety, as the streets didn’t feel safer despite the falling crime rate Citystreets founder, Silver, wrote to NYPD about her death to find out if her death would be part of the city’s crime stats. The NYPD response, let us know that the driver was not caught and that her death would not be included in the city’s crime stats.
There was a need to raise awareness to pedestrian safety issues and Silver conceived of a project to put pedestrian safety on the city’s radar. The idea was simple and powerful-to use the sidewalks as media space and paint a full size human outline at the site of a fatal pedestrian vehicle collision with their name the date of the crash and the words “Killed by Automobile” This project received a lot of media attention.
Tom Delmondo, an advertising Art Director at DDB who Silver worked with made the image for the stencil, which everyone began to call Flatso. Some of Silver’s early collaborators were cyclists and there was a falling out as they did not want to frame the project as a “pedestrian safety project”, at the suggestion of another DDB alumni Sharoz Makarechi.
Citystreets was founded and some former volunteers founded another group called Right of Way. They produced a small booklet that brought the dangers of Queens Boulevard to the public, which was also picked up by the media.
Overhearing a conversation one day shortly after we started stenciling, at the table next to us in a coffee shop, where people were talking about seeing the stencils on the street and the project as a whole. That was the moment we knew that we were seeping into culture.
To date hundreds of stencils have been put down in New York and other cities around the world by people who share our desire to make cities safer for the people who live, work and visit them.