Skip to content

SB event logo 580x200

Posts from the NYPD Category


Greenway Shut Tonight for Presidential Forum — Motorists, Carry On

Ten blocks of the Hudson River Greenway will be closed during evening rush today as a “security” precaution for a presidential candidate event on the USS Intrepid. While people on bikes will have to figure out another way around, there’s no indication that people driving multi-ton metal boxes a few feet away on the West Side Highway will have to change their routines at all.

According to the Hudson River Park Trust, the greenway will be closed from 44th Street to 55th Street from 5 to 10:30 p.m. due to “NYPD safety/security measures.” The trust said greenway commuters should “plan an alternate route,” and posted no re-routing info on its web site or Twitter feed.

We called NYPD about the greenway closure, and to ask if the West Side Highway would be shut as well. NYPD referred us to the Secret Service. “NYPD’s the one who closes the street,” said the person who answered the phone at the Secret Service field office in Brooklyn.

A spokesperson said the Hudson River Park Trust learned of the greenway closure yesterday. No one we contacted would say if motor traffic would be blocked or rerouted. No announcement of a road closure has been posted online, and the DOT’s map of street disruptions shows no parallel detour on the West Side Highway today.

Tonight’s event is a forum on the military and national security. While it looks like operators of motor vehicles will carry on unimpeded, people biking and walking will be targeted by NYPD security theater.


NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Left Van in Gear, Killing Senior in Astoria

Image: NY1

Image: NY1

Update: The Daily News identified the deceased victim as Arline Smeal.

A motorist killed one senior and severely injured another when the unattended van he was driving, left idling and in gear, backed across an Astoria intersection and onto the sidewalk. NYPD filed no charges.

The crash occurred at around 2 p.m. at Broadway and 32nd Street. After the driver, a 29-year-old man, exited the Ford van, “the vehicle began to roll backwards on 32nd Street and struck two pedestrians before colliding with a food cart,” according to NYPD.

The van hit an 80-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man — who according to WNBC and the Daily News operated the food cart — before crashing into the wall of a building.

Both victims were taken to the hospital in critical condition. The woman died from her injuries. Police have not released her name, pending family notification.

“The back left wheel and the front right wheel rolled over this old lady’s neck and then hit an older gentleman, knocked the souvlaki stand, and it was just devastating,” one witness told WCBS.

The van “pushed the food cart about 25 feet and clipped the owner in the back of the head and then rolled over his legs,” the News reported.

WPIX posted video of the van rolling through the intersection.

The circumstances of yesterday’s crash are very similar to the crash the led to the adoption of the state’s vulnerable user law. In 2009, a van left unattended by a commercial driver backed onto a sidewalk in Chinatown, killing toddlers Diego Martinez and Hayley Ng. The crash prompted state legislators to establish the offense of careless driving for cases where a driver injures or kills a pedestrian or cyclist while failing to use due care. NYPD has a poor record of enforcing the law.

As of this afternoon NYPD has filed no charges and issued no tickets for yesterday’s crash. The department’s public information office told Streetsblog the investigation is ongoing.

With reporting by David Meyer


De Blasio’s Office Ducks Responsibility for Erasing Eastern Pkwy Ped Islands

Pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway barely lasted nine months before DOT ripped them up, and no one in the de Blasio administration will say why. Photo: David Meyer

Pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway barely lasted nine months before DOT ripped them up, and no one in the de Blasio administration will say why. Photo: David Meyer

DOT removed pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights yesterday, undoing years of street safety advocacy work on the part of local residents and community board members with no public process, and no one in the de Blasio administration is taking responsibility.

Earlier this week, the Post reported that organizers of the West Indian Day Parade requested that concrete medians at Kingston and Brooklyn avenues be destroyed so floats and trucks “can navigate the roadway” for the event, which is held once a year. It’s not clear how the islands, which were installed in 2015, would impact the parade, since identical street treatments have been in place for years elsewhere along the route.

We asked City Hall if the order to remove the islands originated with the mayor’s office. “This was an NYPD directive, not City Hall’s,” de Blasio spokesperson Austin Finan told us via email.

NYPD referred us to DOT. When we called DOT for comment, the person who answered the phone said all agency press reps were away from their desks. DOT got back to us, but only to ask which NYPD staffer referred us to DOT.

Brooklyn Community Board 8, which endorsed the project that included the islands, was not notified that they would be removed, according to Rob Witherwax, a longtime street safety advocate who serves on the board’s transportation committee. Witherwax said he learned about the changes on Streetsblog.

DOT rarely undertakes street safety projects without the approval of the local community board, but the agency does not always consult boards before removing bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

Read more…


An NYPD Light Tower Has Blocked the Flushing Ave Bike Lane for Three Days

This light tower has forced cyclists to contend with motor vehicle traffic on Flushing Avenue all week. Photo: Matthew Kime

This NYPD light tower continues to force cyclists into motor vehicle traffic on Flushing Avenue. Photo: Matthew Kime

An idle NYPD light tower has been sitting in the Flushing Avenue bike lane all week, forcing cyclists into motor vehicle traffic.

Flushing Avenue’s westbound bike lane runs along the north curb. It will eventually be upgraded to a two-way protected lane, but right now is separated from motor vehicle traffic by a painted buffer. Commuters found the light trailer blocking the bike lane just east of Navy Street on Monday.

Responding to a 311 complaint, NYPD said officers were notified to move the light on Monday afternoon. But it was still there as of this morning.

Motorists have injured four cyclists on Flushing Avenue in the vicinity of Navy Street — from one block to the west to two blocks to the east — this year through July, according to city crash data.

The block of Flushing between Navy Street and North Eliot Place is located in the 88th Precinct. Messages left with the 88th Precinct and the NYPD public information office were not returned as of this writing.


DOT, NYPD Remove New Eastern Parkway Ped Islands for Once-a-Year Parade


The city is removing two pedestrian islands from Eastern Parkway to accommodate the West Indian Day Parade, but the parade has passed three other islands for years, including this one by the Brooklyn Museum. Image: Google Earth

DOT and NYPD are destroying two concrete pedestrian islands the city installed less than a year ago on Eastern Parkway at the request of organizers of next weekend’s West Indian Day Parade, the Post reports.

Instead of making the parade accommodate permanent pedestrian infrastructure, the city is undoing safety measures that protect people 365 days out of the year to accommodate an event on a single day.

The medians — at the intersections of Kingston and Brooklyn Avenues — were installed in December as part of a Safe Routes to Schools plan for Arista Prep Academy and Nursery School and the Oholei Torah yeshiva that was in the works for 10 years [PDF]. The intersection of Kingston and Eastern Parkway is also a Vision Zero priority intersection where seven people were severely injured from 2009 and 2013.

The West Indian Day Parade draws more than a million people to Eastern Parkway every Labor Day. DOT must have been aware of the parade when planning the project.

It’s not clear why the parade is incompatible with the islands, especially since the route has already passed by three concrete pedestrian islands west of Washington Avenue for years. Those islands will not be removed. Parade officials were nevertheless able to convince the city to remove the two new concrete islands.

Read more…


The Jay Street Bike Lane Won’t Work If NYPD Parks All Over It

Double-whammy: these caps are blocking a bus stop and the bike lane. Photo: Brandon Chamberlin

Police officers block the bike lane and a bus stop on Jay Street this morning. Photo: Brandon Chamberlin

As crews restripe Jay Street to implement a curbside protected bike lane, some sort of learning curve is to be expected. Drivers need a little time to adjust to the new parking lane, which floats to the left of the bike lane buffer. But NYPD should know better from the start.

Streetsblog reader Brandon Chamberlin snapped the above photo of two police vehicles parked in the bus stop in front of City Tech on Jay Street this morning, blocking the way for both buses and cyclists. The bus stop has always been there — it’s not new.

In DOT’s redesign, the bike lane and curbside bus stops are “shared space” — as opposed to a floating bus stop design where bus drivers would pull up to a boarding island to the left of the bike lane. It’s a situation that requires some extra effort, with cyclists and bus drivers having to look out for each other — even without factoring in illegal parking.

If police ignore the rules and park at the curb, things will break down quickly. Cyclists will have to weave out of the bike lane into traffic, and bus riders will have to walk off the curb to board. The stress and chaotic traffic conditions that the Jay Street redesign was supposed to fix will just resurface in slightly different form.

Read more…


TA: Unfocused, Ineffective NYPD Enforcement Isn’t Helping With Vision Zero

NYPD precincts that issued more tickets for tinted windows than for speeding and failure to yield combined from January through May 2016. Image: TA

NYPD precincts that issued more tickets for tinted windows than for speeding and failure to yield combined from January through May 2016. Image: TA

Since the launch of Vision Zero more than two years ago, NYPD has yet to develop a comprehensive strategy to target dangerous driver behaviors that are known to cause most injuries and deaths. To the contrary, a new Transportation Alternatives report finds that NYPD enforcement often targets the people most vulnerable to traffic violence, while motorist violations like speeding, failure to yield, and even leaving the scene of a crash go unchecked.

“Death, Danger and Ignoring the Data: How the NYPD is Getting Vision Zero Wrong” [PDF] notes that injuries to pedestrians and cyclists increased by 11 percent the first five months of this year relative to the same time frame in 2015. While there was a slight decline in the number of people killed by drivers while walking, cyclist deaths more than doubled.

TA says scattershot traffic enforcement is a big part of the problem.

“The NYPD is falling short on its commitment to consistent, appropriate policing to deter the most deadly driving violations,” said TA Executive Director Paul Steely White in a statement accompanying the report. “Commissioner Bratton and other top police officials don’t even seem to have a clear plan for participation in Vision Zero, and their allocation of traffic enforcement resources does not appear to be based on actual conditions on New York City streets.”

Though the majority of cyclists who lost their lives this year were killed by drivers breaking traffic laws, NYPD tends to respond to cyclist fatalities by cracking down on cyclists and publicly blaming victims for their own deaths. This approach epitomizes the department’s failure to direct resources toward enforcement that would actually save lives, says TA.

In addition, enforcement priorities vary widely from precinct to precinct. While some precincts have stepped up enforcement against speeding and failure to yield, others are issuing fewer such tickets this year than in 2015, the report says.

TA found there are eight precincts where cyclists are more likely to receive a criminal court summons — which can lead to jail time and barriers to employment — than a moving violation for riding on the sidewalk. In the apparent absence of guidance from department brass, precinct COs are free to aggressively target relatively low-risk cycling offenses as motorists kill people in crosswalks.

Other findings from the report:

Read more…


Cyclists Need Protection From Reckless Driving, Not From Themselves

The 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side, tickets more cyclists than almost any other precinct in the city. So it was fitting that the above tweet this morning came from the 19th. It encapsulates NYPD’s failure to recognize how dangerous driving behaviors, not cyclists’ own actions, are the big threat to people on bikes.

The riding tips are all well and good, but will they “help prevent most collisions,” as the precinct suggests? The evidence says otherwise.

Of the 14 cyclist fatalities in New York City this year, 12 involved drivers breaking the law, according to data compiled by Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives.

Five of the fatal crashes were hit-and-runs. Of those, one was the result of a driver failing to yield to Olga Cook; in another a driver ran a red light and killed an unidentified 41-year-old man; and a third was caused by a driver who appeared to deliberately strike Matthew von Ohlen.

In three other cases, evidence suggests cyclists had the right of way and were killed by drivers who failed to yield. Three more fatalities involved drivers impaired by marijuana or alcohol. And 33-year-old James Gregg was killed by the driver of an oversized truck on Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn, a neighborhood street where trucks are prohibited.

Read more…


NYPD “Bicycle Safe Passage” Stings Aren’t Creating Safe Passage for Cyclists

Earlier this year, when City Hall announced NYPD’s “Bicycle Safe Passage” enforcement initiative to ticket drivers for blocking bike lanes and failing to yield to cyclists, it sounded like a step up from predecessors like “Operation Safe Cycle” — which were notorious for fining cyclists, not protecting them. But the new NYPD bike safety approach still looks a lot like the old.

This week marks the third “Bicycle Safe Passage” operation of 2016. So far, people have reported NYPD ticketing cyclists on Ninth Avenue, Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side, Second Avenue near Stuy Town, and Jay Street by the Manhattan Bridge.

On Jay Street, the 84th Precinct is ticketing cyclists around Nassau Street and Concord Street. Just south of that location, between Fulton Street and Tillary Street, the bike lane remains blocked by double-parkers, as per usual.

During the previous “Bicycle Safe Passage” week, in June, the NYPD gave out 1,757 tickets to drivers obstructing bike lanes and 810 for motorists who failed to yield to cyclists or pedestrians, according to AM New York. It’s not known how many tickets were given to cyclists.

Read more…


Bill Bratton Is in Denial About NYPD’s Deadly Drunk Driving Problem

Andrew Esquivel was struck and killed on a Brooklyn sidewalk by an off-duty NYPD officer accused of DWI and manslaughter. Drunk off-duty cops are known or alleged to have killed at least five people since 2009, and arrests are frequent, but Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says that’s “not a problem.”

Andrew Esquivel was struck and killed on a Brooklyn sidewalk by an off-duty NYPD officer accused of DWI and manslaughter. Drunk off-duty cops are known or alleged to have killed at least five people since 2009, and arrests are frequent, but Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says that’s “not a problem.” Bratton photo: Policy Exchange/Flickr

In the aftermath of another civilian death at the hands of an allegedly intoxicated off-duty officer, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says drunk driving cops are not a problem at NYPD.

Nicholas Batka, 28, drove onto the sidewalk at Bedford Avenue and North Eighth Street in Williamsburg at around 3:10 a.m. Saturday, striking Andrew Esquivel and three friends. Esquivel, a 21-year-old student, was killed. The other victims were all seriously injured.

Batka jumped into the passenger seat and claimed he wasn’t driving, according to reports, and bystanders had to surround his SUV to prevent him from fleeing. Court records said Batka “had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the odor of alcohol on his breath,” the Times reported.

A transit cop who had been on the force less than two years, Batka was due back on the job at 7 a.m.

Batka was charged with assault, manslaughter, homicide, and driving while intoxicated. On Wednesday Bratton said that Batka had been fired. According to the Times, two other officers who were with Batka before the crash had their guns and badges taken as investigators look into whether they drove drunk that night as well.

Though Bratton said “drunken-driving episodes” involving NYPD officers occur around three times a month and that the department would take a “closer look,” he played down the issue.

“That is not a problem in the department,” Bratton said, “but we treat it very seriously.”

The death of Andrew Esquivel is not an isolated case. There is no known data set of off-duty police crashes, but here’s a sampling of mayhem caused by alleged or known drunk-driving NYPD personnel in recent years:

Read more…