Eyes on the Street: The Everyday Perils of Being an NYC Pedestrian

Pedestrians walk around a moving semi truck on a Broadway sidewalk in Inwood. Photos: Brad Aaron

Yesterday I observed the driver of this tanker truck do a U-turn at Broadway and 204th Street in order to pull up to a gas station.

I walk this intersection regularly, and you always have to be especially mindful of what drivers are doing on this corner, since it’s basically one big curb cut. Once the truck driver did his 180, he drove onto the sidewalk, then went back and forth until he was where he needed to be.

Granted, this guy seemed to know what he was doing, but he made a U-turn through at least three crosswalks — which as far as I can tell is illegal — and anyone who approached during this maneuver had to either stay back until he cleared the sidewalk or try to walk around the moving truck while watching for other vehicles. As the truck driver was taking up the sidewalk, at least one driver backed across the gas station lot, in my general direction, to get out of his way.

Over 200 New York City pedestrians were killed and nearly 4,700 were injured in collisions involving large trucks from 1994 to 2003. At least seven pedestrians have been killed by semi truck drivers in the past year, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

Broadway is a local truck route, and this particular truck — as it happens — was equipped with the required crossover mirror. This gas station is also half a block from an elementary school, and a block away from a junior high school.

A smaller truck could do this job. All I could think while watching this everyday event unfold is that trucks of this size, regardless of regulations, really have no place on NYC streets.

This truck is equipped with required crossover mirrors. Many trucks that travel through NYC neighborhoods are not.