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Which Precincts Are Making Progress on Vision Zero in Queens?

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The advocates at Make Queens Safer have put together this handy visualization of NYPD enforcement trends in Queens using data scraped from PDFs the department posts online. You can see the big increase in failure-to-yield summonses, a smaller but significant bump up in speeding tickets last month, and a mild uptick in red light tickets. Pedestrian and cyclist injuries are back down to 2012 levels after an increase in 2013.

The precinct-level breakdown is especially interesting. The 104th, 110th, 111th, and 113th precincts are among the borough’s leaders in increasing summonses for failure-to-yield, speeding, or red light running, and all four are also seeing significant drops in pedestrian and cyclist injuries. (There are 17 precincts in Queens.) As Make Queens Safer notes, every precinct is starting from a different baseline, so a precinct that started out with a relatively high level of enforcement may not show up on the list of leaders here. But this is intriguing data and a closer look could reveal more about the link between increased enforcement and better safety outcomes.

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De Blasio Signs Traffic Safety Bills, Says 25 MPH Will Go Into Effect This Fall

Mayor de Blasio signs 11 traffic safety bills this morning at PS 152 in Queens, surrounded by families of traffic violence victims. Photo: Stephen Miller

Mayor de Blasio signed 11 traffic safety bills earlier today at PS 152 in Queens, surrounded by families of traffic violence victims. Photo: Stephen Miller

Earlier today, Mayor Bill de Blasio returned to the schoolyard where he launched his administration’s Vision Zero campaign in January, just feet from where 9-year-old Noshat Nahian was killed last December while walking to PS 152 with his sister. A little more than six months after announcing his intent to eliminate traffic fatalities within 10 years, the mayor signed bills that suspend the licenses of dangerous taxi drivers, require the installation of 20 mph Slow Zones, and make it a misdemeanor to strike a pedestrian or cyclist with the right of way, among other changes.

While today’s press conference struck a celebratory note, the mayor made clear that Vision Zero is a continuing effort. “The vision is to end traffic fatalities in this city. It’s not easy. Nobody said it was easy,” de Blasio said. “When you think about Vision Zero and all its components, fundamentally it comes down to reducing speeding, reducing reckless driving.”

“A special thanks to all the family members of all the individuals who have turned their pain into action and who have had a huge impact in this city and in this state,” he said. “[They] have been fantastic advocates, particularly in Albany.”

With Families for Safe Streets members in Albany last week, the State Senate and Assembly passed legislation to lower the default speed limit in New York City to 25 mph. De Blasio said that the new limit will likely go into effect this fall after Governor Cuomo signs the bill and the City Council passes its own speed limit legislation.

The package of bills that the mayor signed today focuses on TLC, DOT, and NYPD.

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De Blasio Signs 11 Traffic Safety Bills

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan speaks at today's bill signing. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/ydanis/status/481103315409698816##City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez/@ydanis##

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan speaks at today’s bill signing. Photo: City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez/@ydanis

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed 11 bills today intended to make it safer to walk, bike, and drive in New York City.

De Blasio was joined by in Queens this morning by Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez, and other council members. Bills signed into law include Intro 171-A — “Cooper’s Law” — which will allow the Taxi and Limousine Commission to act against hack licenses of cab drivers who injure and kill pedestrians while breaking traffic laws, and Intro 238-A, which makes it a misdemeanor for drivers to strike pedestrians or cyclists who have the right of way.

Streetsblog will have full coverage of the presser later today.

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Thanks to Albany and NYPD, Careless Driving Law Will Keep Gathering Dust

For the second year in a row, a bill to bring an end to NYPD’s self-imposed ban on penalizing motorists for careless driving has passed the State Senate, but apparently won’t clear the Assembly.

NYPD refuses to enforce the law named after Diego Martinez and Hayley Ng, who were killed by a careless driver in 2009. As in 2013, a bill to amend the law’s language passed the State Senate, but stalled in the Assembly transportation committee.

Sponsored by Senator Dan Squadron, the bill would amend the state “vulnerable user” law by explicitly stating that officers may ticket or arrest drivers who harm pedestrians and cyclists whether or not they directly observe an infraction, as long as there is reasonable cause to believe a violation was committed. The vulnerable user law is named after Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez, preschoolers who were killed in 2009 when a driver’s unattended and idling van rolled onto a Chinatown sidewalk. The driver was not charged by former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau or his successor Cy Vance.

Enacted in 2010, Hayley and Diego’s Law was intended as a default infraction for crashes that injure pedestrians and cyclists. But current NYPD protocol prohibits precinct officers from issuing tickets under VTL 1146, the state statute that includes Hayley and Diego’s Law as well as Elle’s Law. According to the department, the summonses don’t stand up in court unless an officer witnesses a violation, or the summons is issued by trained investigators from the Collision Investigation Squad. Under former commissioner Ray Kelly, NYPD normally applied VTL 1146 only in cases of very serious injury or death — the only types of crashes worked by CIS. Fewer than 1 percent of New York City drivers who injure and kill pedestrians and cyclists are cited for careless driving.

The Senate passed Squadron’s amendment to the law Tuesday. “This bill advances an important goal of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative,” said Squadron in a written statement. “It protects pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers by updating ‘Hayley and Diego’s Law’ to make clear that careless drivers can be charged, even if the crash a driver caused did not take place in the presence of a police officer. This important change is highlighted in Vision Zero as a way to protect vulnerable road users and crack down on careless driving.”

The Assembly companion bill, however, has sat in the transportation committee, chaired by Rochester representative David Gantt, since January. Sponsored by Brian Kavanagh, the bill has just three co-sponsors. With one day left in the session, it looks like the Assembly will fail to move the bill, as it did in 2013.

As part of his Vision Zero plan, Mayor Bill de Blasio wants Albany to elevate careless driving to a misdemeanor, which would allow officers to act based on probable cause, whether or not they witness a crash. The City Council passed a resolution in support of the change last month, but it appears no bill materialized in Albany. A query to de Blasio staff concerning Hayley and Diego’s Law was not returned.

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NYPD Is Ticketing More Drivers for Speeding on Neighborhood Streets

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Data source: NYPD

NYPD is issuing more speeding summonses this year than in 2013, and data show a substantial jump in the number of drivers ticketed for speeding on neighborhood streets. While the numbers represent an increase from the baseline, it will take a lot more summonses for enforcement to be commensurate with the scale of NYC’s reckless driving problem.

As of the end of May, NYPD had issued 46,119 speeding citations, according to the department’s monthly violations report. Of those, 29,125 were issued by the transportation bureau, which for the most part concentrates enforcement on city highways, with the patrol bureau — precinct officers — issuing 16,993 speeding summonses (one ticket was unaccounted for). Through May 2013, police had issued 35,713 speeding tickets: 25,434 by the transportation bureau and 10,279 by precincts. That’s a 29 percent year-to-year increase across the board, and a 65 percent rise in precinct speed enforcement.

In addition, NYPD continued to issue more summonses for failure to yield to pedestrians relative to last year: 14,779 total as of May, compared to 5,836 through May 2013 — a 153 percent jump.

It’s possible that the ticketing surge can be attributed more to recent ticket “blitzes,” like the one NYPD launched Monday, than to sustained day to day enforcement. And as we’ve reported before, counting summonses doesn’t help determine how many motorists are following traffic laws. Surveys by Transportation Alternatives have recorded a large share of drivers exceeding the speed limit on streets throughout the city, so even the increased number of tickets only captures a very small portion of total speeding.

Still, it’s clear that through the first five months of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, NYPD speeding enforcement is moving in the right direction.

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NYPD: 1,160 Pedestrians and Cyclists Injured, Nine Killed in Traffic in April

Image: NYPD

Image: NYPD

Twenty-one people died in New York City traffic in April, and 4,007 were injured, according to the latest NYPD crash data report [PDF].

As of the end of April, 42 pedestrians and cyclists were reported killed by city motorists this year, and 4,406 injured, compared to 56 deaths and 4,793 injuries for the same period in 2013.

Citywide, at least eight pedestrians and one cyclist were fatally struck by drivers: two pedestrians in Manhattan; one pedestrian in the Bronx; two pedestrians and one cyclist in Brooklyn; and three pedestrians in Queens. Among the victims were Dwayne Dwyer, Angel Torres, Kelly Gordon, William Guevara-Delgado, Oscar Pauzhi, Bonnie Lewin, and one unidentified pedestrian each in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Queens. Motorists killed at least one senior in April: Bonnie Lewin, 65.

Across the city, 854 pedestrians and 306 cyclists were reported hurt in collisions with motor vehicles. Per NYPD policy, few of these crashes were investigated by trained officers.

Of nine fatal crashes reported by Streetsblog and other outlets, no motorists were known to have been charged for causing a death. Historically, nearly half of motorists who kill a New York City pedestrian or cyclist do not receive so much as a citation for careless driving.

Six motorists and six passengers died in the city in April; 1,305 and 1,542 were injured, respectively.

There were 16,265 motor vehicle crashes in the city last month, including 2,977 that resulted in injury or death.

NYPD summons data for April is not online as of this writing. NYPD posts geocoded crash data here. Crash and summons data from prior months is available in multiple formats here.

After the jump: contributing factors for crashes resulting in injury and death.

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Mother of Cooper Stock: NYPD Must Hold Reckless Cab Drivers Accountable

Update: According to a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio, today’s scheduled bill signing was postponed.

After a Wednesday hearing where he was joined by council members and department heads, Mayor de Blasio is scheduled to sign a package of bills today aimed at improving traffic safety. Though its signing will come later due to a scheduling conflict, one bill sent to the mayor by the council was Intro 171, also known as “Cooper’s Law.”

Cooper Stock. Photo: Barron Lerner via ##http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/24/treat-reckless-driving-like-drunk-driving/##New York Times##

Cooper Stock. Photo: Barron Lerner via New York Times

The bill’s namesake, 9-year-old Cooper Stock, was fatally struck by a cab driver in an Upper West Side crosswalk in January. His father, Richard Stock, was injured in the collision.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission said Koffi Komlani’s probationary hack license won’t be renewed when it expires in July. Regardless, though Komlani has reportedly not driven a cab since the day of the crash, for now he remains in good standing with the TLC, despite the fact that he drove into two people who were crossing the street legally with sufficient speed to cause grave harm.

“The TLC did nothing,” said Cooper’s mother Dana Lerner. “They did nothing. They didn’t take his license. They didn’t do anything.”

According to the New York Post, the TLC can currently suspend hack licenses for 30 days only when a cab driver has six or more points, and can’t revoke a license until a driver has more than 10 points. Summonses for failure to yield and running a red light add three points to a hack license, a reckless driving summons adds five points, and a ticket for driving from 31 to 40 miles per hour over the speed limit adds eight points.

Reports said Komlani had no prior violations on his record. A summons for failure to yield is still pending, according to Lerner, and Komlani was not charged by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

When Cooper’s Law takes effect, the TLC will be allowed to suspend or revoke hack licenses of cab drivers who cause critical injury or death as a result of breaking traffic laws. But as we reported in May, penalties will depend on whether NYPD issues charges or summonses after a crash. As it stands, police investigate only a fraction of serious crashes, and fewer than 1 percent of New York City drivers who injure and kill pedestrians and cyclists are cited for careless driving.

Lerner has seen the data on NYPD enforcement of state vulnerable user laws, which the department says it can’t apply unless the Collision Investigation Squad is dispatched or an officer witnesses a violation. “That’s the key issue,” Lerner said. “If the NYPD doesn’t enforce, none of these laws have any meaning.”

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Anonymous NYPD Sources Blame Another Victim of Motorist Violence

Area of Roosevelt Avenue where a speeding driver killed a cyclist Tuesday afternoon. Image: Google Maps

Area of Roosevelt Avenue where a speeding driver killed a cyclist Tuesday afternoon. Image: Google Maps

A motorist killed a cyclist near Citi Field Tuesday afternoon. The driver was ticketed for speeding, but true to form, anonymous police sources and the media blamed the victim for his own death.

The crash happened on Roosevelt Avenue near 126th Street, under the elevated 7 train on the perimeter of the stadium, at around 12:48 p.m. According to NYPD and published reports, the driver of a Mercury minivan hit the cyclist from behind.

Photos and video of the scene show that the frame of the victim’s bike was snapped into pieces, with the minivan perpendicular to the sidewalk, its windshield shattered. The victim, whose name had not been released by police as of this morning, died at the scene.

The Post and DNAinfo reported that, according to unnamed police sources, the cyclist “cut in front” or “swerved into the path” of the driver. The NYPD spokesperson we spoke to had no such information. The spokesperson said police summonsed the driver for speeding — a crucial detail that was not reported in the press. So once again, unnamed NYPD personnel selectively leaked information that served to blame the victim, and reporters repeated it without question.

At this point the speeding ticket is the sole charge against the driver. The investigation into the crash is ongoing, NYPD told Streetsblog.

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311 Is a Joke: NYPD Ignores Bike Lane-Blocking Big Rigs in Red Hook


In the space of a few hours this afternoon, one cyclist’s experience, chronicled in real time on Twitter, summed up NYPD’s indifference to keeping bike lanes clear of motor vehicles.

At 8:00 this morning, Anna Zivarts encountered a flatbed tractor-trailer parked in the two-way Imlay/Summit Street bike lane in Red Hook. When that truck and a second rig were still blocking the lane four hours later, Zivarts tweeted photos.

Prompted by a response from DOT on Twitter, at 2:15 p.m. Zivarts filed a complaint on the 311 web site. (There is no “vehicle blocking bike lane” option on the 311 site, so DOT advised her to select “double parked blocking traffic.”) An hour later, Zivarts received an emailed response that read: “The Police Department responded to the complaint and determined that police action was not necessary.”

When she checked the street minutes later, however, the trucks were still parked in the bike lane. ”Why bother?” tweeted Zivarts.

Though this isn’t one of NYC’s most hectic streets, in the video, taken by Zivarts, you can see the truck is forcing cyclists into an oncoming lane around a corner, where visibility is poor.

Apparently that’s not something the police care to prevent.

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Sidewalk-Jumping Driver Kills One Pedestrian, Injures Another in Great Kills

Photos from the scene of a Monday afternoon crash show a Honda on the sidewalk on the northeast corner of Hylan Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue. Image: Google Maps

The northwest corner of Hylan Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue. Image: Google Maps

Update: The victim who died in this crash was identified as Christal Aliotta, 31. As of Tuesday the driver, 23-year-old Michael Fox, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation and drug possession, according to the Advance.

Police say charges are pending after a curb-jumping driver killed one pedestrian and injured another in Staten Island this afternoon.

At around 1:44 p.m. a motorist drove onto the sidewalk at Hylan Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue in Great Kills, striking two women, according to the Staten Island Advance. An FDNY spokesperson said two people were transported but did not have information on their conditions. The Advance reported that, according to NYPD, one victim died at the scene, and the other was hospitalized in stable condition.

A photo published by the Advance shows a tan Honda sedan with extensive front end damage on a sidewalk surrounded by police tape. ”Several personal items, including a bag and shoes, were strewn about the sidewalk nearby,” the Advance reported.

NYPD told Streetsblog charges against the driver were forthcoming. Police had not released the names of anyone involved in the crash as of this writing.

New York City motorists have fatally struck at least 17 pedestrians on sidewalks, in open fields, and in places of business since January 2013, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

This fatal crash occurred in the 122nd Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain Robert Bocchino, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 122nd Precinct council meetings happen at 8 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month at the precinct, 2320 Hylan Blvd. Call 718-667-2292 for information.

The City Council district where this fatal crash occurred is represented by Vincent Ignizio, one of the council’s most outspoken street safety critics. To encourage Ignizio to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7390, vignizio@council.nyc.gov, or @VincentIgnizio.