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Kirsten Gillibrand Has a Simple Idea to Stop the Next Terror Attack

November 2, 2017

A day after a man driving a rented pickup truck killed eight and wounded 12 on a bike path in lower Manhattan, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York introduced a bill with a simple fix to stop the next attack: concrete planters.

On Wednesday, the New York Democrat introduced the Stopping Threats on Pedestrians Act, or the STOP Act, in the U.S. Senate, which would establish a Department of Transportation grant program to fund the installation of local traffic barriers like bollards and planters designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists. The bill would authorize $50 million in spending on such projects over the next decade.

In a statement, the Senator pitched the bill as a way to prevent ISIS’s current preferred method of inflicting terror — turning vehicles into weapons of mass destruction by using them to plow through groups of people. A vehicle was also used to kill an anti-racism protester during a neo Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va., this year.

“Providing adequate funding to install traffic barriers throughout cities across the country is a commonsense bipartisan measure that would help protect pedestrians and bicyclists from these kinds of hateful acts,” Gillibrand’s said in a statement.

A similar bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of New York Congressmen earlier this month. Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Republican Rep. Daniel Donovan, both from New York, introduced their version of the STOP Act on Oct. 12. In response to Tuesday’s terror attack, Rep. Espaillat pushed the bill in a tweet.

In introducing that bill, Donovan pointed to vertical steel posts, or bollards, in place in Times Square. Those posts were credited with stopping a driver who sped through the high-traffic tourist attraction last May. Though Richard Rojas still killed one person and injured several, without the bollards many have said the death toll could have been much worse.

Cities and urban planners have been embracing bollards as a method of keeping pedestrians safe from vehicular threats for some time. Washington’s WAMU has described D.C. as a “city of bollards,” which the radio station says began being installed after the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995. After Sept. 11, aesthetically pleasing bollards were erected in New York’s Financial District as a method of keeping vehicles, especially those containing bombs, from passing through the area.

As Justin Davidson wrote for New York magazine on Wednesday: “We can’t crazy-proof all of New York, but the city could do a far more thorough job of safeguarding places where cyclists and pedestrians cluster.”

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