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Posts from the "Pedestrian safety" Category

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NYPD: No Reason to Investigate Greenway Crash That Hospitalized Cyclist

A witness to the aftermath of a Hudson River Greenway crash that sent a cyclist to the hospital says NYPD officers, including personnel from the Collision Investigation Squad, said they did not intend to investigate the cause of the collision, explaining to bystanders that it was an “accident” while blaming the cyclist.

By declining to determine what caused a collision between a bus driver and a greenway cyclist, NYPD failed to take steps that could prevent future injuries. Photo: Hilda Cohen

By declining to determine what caused a collision between a bus driver and a greenway cyclist, NYPD failed to take steps that could prevent future injuries. Photo: Hilda Cohen

Just after 9:30 a.m. last Thursday, July 24, a NY Waterways bus driver and a cyclist collided at the greenway and W. 40th Street, in Hell’s Kitchen. Responders transported the cyclist to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, FDNY said.

Reader Hilda Cohen, who alerted Streetsblog to the crash, asked officers at the scene if they would impound the bike as evidence. ”Why would we investigate?” an officer said, according to Cohen. “This was clearly an accident.” Cohen told Streetsblog the officer who made those comments was with the Collision Investigation Squad.

While “accident” implies no one was at fault, Cohen said police also preemptively blamed the cyclist. In the comments on our post last week, Cohen wrote: “The attitude was nightmarish, with comments like: ‘A bus isn’t gonna yield to anyone,’ [and] ‘The only reason this happened is because that guy was going too fast on his bike.’” NYPD also told Cohen the cyclist “hit the bus” before he was “dragged under the front wheel.”

The dismissiveness on the part of NYPD in this case is alarming for many reasons. For one thing, had they conducted an investigation, officers might have spoken with cyclists about the conflict between greenway users and turning drivers at the intersection where the crash occurred.

Cohen told Streetsblog via email that she spoke with cyclists, as well as police, at the scene. ”There was really a lot of talk about who was at fault, and sadly the majority figured the cyclist was at fault simply because it was a bus,” she said. “The fact is it is a bad design. Turning vehicles should yield to the path users — it is quite blatant — but the comments from the NYPD were excusing the driver, because it was a bus.”

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AARP: Older NYC Pedestrians Concerned About Drivers Failing to Yield

Four out of 10 New York City voters age 50 and older consider motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians a serious problem, and one in four say traffic signals don’t allow enough time to cross the street, according to a poll by AARP.

Forty percent of NYC voters age 50 and older say drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians are a major problem. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/3275748024/in/photolist-5Zt4Ld-dFcMWT-6q5iaQ-92igFP-6Hm3eQ-6b8ndc-6bcvWj-6bcw7f-8rRi4-5pNDRz-7amntd-5pSX41-5pSX5C-aB9UGE-9rYm1g-9rYkwB-9s2jgL-9rYkga-9rYmBr-9s2iU3-9s2hVL-9rYk9K-9s2hH3-9s2i2W-9s2k3S-9s2jQo-9rYn74-9s2jUb-9rYmWH-9rYmuR-9rYknK-9rYmn8-9s2jHm-9s2j5m-9s2aUb-9s2jM5-7aCU1j-hW1dK-7bshZ7-518C71-kSWWt-7ajcDV-4rkx5x-9s2hob-9rYmyB-9s2ik7-gyChfz-4ua1XN-caW7cJ-9TqDDm##Ed Yourdon/Flickr##

Forty percent of NYC voters age 50 and older say they consider drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians a major problem. Photo: Ed Yourdon/Flickr

As part of its 2013 voter survey, AARP asked a series of questions related to transportation and street safety. The results were released Tuesday. Of all respondents across the boroughs, 40 percent said drivers not yielding to pedestrians is a “major problem.” Twenty-eight percent said traffic lights are timed too fast for pedestrians to cross safely.

Staten Island residents were most concerned about failure to yield (45 percent), followed by respondents in Queens (42 percent), the Bronx (40 percent), Brooklyn (40 percent), and Manhattan (34 percent). More Staten Islanders also cited short pedestrian signals as a major problem (35 percent), followed by residents of Queens (30 percent), the Bronx (29 percent), Brooklyn (28 percent), and Manhattan (21 percent).

The survey further categorized responses by race. From an AARP press release: “When it comes to the timing of traffic lights, more Hispanics cite them being too fast for safe crossing as a major concern, followed by Asians and African Americans. Concern about cars not yielding to pedestrians is again highest among Hispanics, followed by African Americans and Asians.”

The survey was conducted before the advent of Vision Zero. AARP praised Mayor de Blasio for prioritizing street safety.

“Our city streets can be a rough place for pedestrians, especially those 50 and older. Being struck by a vehicle is the second leading cause of injury-related death for older New Yorkers,” said Beth Finkel, director for AARP in New York State, in the press release. “AARP commends Mayor de Blasio’s focus on addressing this issue and for working to make New York City’s streets safer for pedestrians of all ages.”

The pedestrian fatality rate for people age 60 and older in the tri-state region is nearly three times the rate for residents under 60, according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. TSTC’s 2013 “Older Pedestrians At Risk” report found that older NYC pedestrians suffer disproportionately from traffic violence.

Crash data compiled by Streetsblog show that drivers have killed at least 27 pedestrians age 50 and older in 2014, compared to 29 fatalities during the same time period last year.

The complete AARP survey is here.

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How a Non-Profit Housing Developer Brought Safer Streets to the South Bronx

southern_after

The sidewalk between the subway stairs and stanchions at this Southern Boulevard street corner used to be a traffic lane. Photo: Stephen Miller

When the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation, known as WHEDco, was founded in 1992, the dark days of arson and abandonment in the South Bronx were still fresh in people’s minds. The organization set out to build new housing in a devastated neighborhood — and decided to take a broader view of community development by also looking at employment, nutrition, crime, and education. When WHEDco’s latest development, Intervale Green, opened in Crotona East in 2009, its residents identified another major need: safer streets.

Intervale Green has 128 apartments for low-income residents, including 39 for families leaving the city’s homeless shelters. WHEDco surveyed 450 nearby residents soon after Intervale Green opened to get a better sense of the neighborhood’s needs.

Kerry McLean, WHEDco’s director of community development, said traffic safety and crime came up as major concerns. Residents saw the elevated train above Southern Boulevard as a blight, with peeling paint and not enough lights at night. Cars were speeding, and residents did not feel safe walking home from the train.

southern_before

The same street corner before the changes, when bus riders waited on the asphalt. Photo: Google Maps

In 2009, WHEDco organized a meeting with residents, Community Board 3, the 42nd Precinct, and DOT to see what could be done. “Much to our amazement, they came,” McLean said. “Community members actually felt like there was somebody who was listening to them who could make change.”

“We had all our meetings in the Intervale Green building, so we worked with them on this,” said DOT Bronx Borough Commissioner Constance Moran. ”They helped us scope out the islands, and the trees, and the benches, and all of that.”

“People were surprised because it was one of the first times in a long time they felt that their voices were going to be heard,” McLean said. “The Department of Transportation was not looking at streetscape issues in this neighborhood at all before we engaged them.”

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Seeking Safer Routes to Walk and Bike Across the Harlem River

Harlem residents point out how to improve safety on streets near the Harlem River Bridges on Saturday. From left: Abena Smith, president of the 32nd Precinct community council; community council vice president Sherri Culpepper; Louis Bailey of WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Tom DeVito of Transportation Alternatives; and Maria Barry, chair of Manhattan Community Board 10's Vision Zero task force. Photo: Stephen Miller

From left: Abena Smith, president of the 32nd Precinct community council; community council vice president Sherri Culpepper; Louis Bailey of WE ACT for Environmental Justice; Tom DeVito of Transportation Alternatives; and Maria Garcia, chair of Manhattan Community Board 10′s Vision Zero task force. Photo: Stephen Miller

Have you ever tried biking or walking across the Harlem River? Despite a plethora of bridges, walkers and bikers often face crossings and approaches that are confusing or downright hostile. A new campaign from Transportation Alternatives and local residents aims to focus DOT’s attention on making it safer for New Yorkers to get between the two boroughs under their own power.

There are 11 bridges connecting Manhattan and the Bronx, including the High Bridge. Nine currently have paths for pedestrians, though most are narrow, and cyclists are allowed to ride on only two of them. New Yorkers walking or biking on either side of the bridges have an even tougher time, penned in by the car-clogged Harlem River Drive and the Major Deegan Expressway. Nearby bike lanes are a hodgepodge with few clear, safe routes leading to the bridges.

On the East River, the city has built out bike routes on bridges and nearby streets, and bike ridership is climbing year after year. Organizers of the new campaign say it’s time for the Harlem River bridges to get the same attention to safety, and on Saturday they gathered for the first of three summer “street scans” to identify places where streets could be safer and easier to navigate.

“I’ve been saying for years that there should be bike lanes in Harlem, and there were none past 110th Street for many years,” said Sherri Culpepper, vice president of the 32nd Precinct community council.

It’s not just about biking for Culpepper, who also walks and drives in her neighborhood. She learned of Saturday’s event from the Manhattan Community Board 10 Vision Zero task force. “I was happy to see that there is an initiative to make the streets safer. Because we have kids that walk to the park by themselves; they go to the community rec centers,” she said. ”Drivers are just driving too fast in the community.”

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Crashes Highlight the Hell’s Kitchen Bus Crunch

Last Monday, a left-turning coach bus driver struck two Spanish tourists in the crosswalk at 47th Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan, sending them to the hospital with critical injuries. On Thursday, another bus driver crashed into scaffolding a few blocks away, causing minor injuries to passengers. The local community board chair says that without adequate bus facilities, neighborhood streets are getting overwhelmed.

The topic came up at a hearing last week where regional transportation leaders weighed New York’s big transit challenges, but only piecemeal solutions seem to be in the works at this time.

The bus driver in last Monday’s crash, 37-year-old Richard Williams, rolled over the leg of 62-year-old Maria Bagona and critically injured Maria Aranzazu Madariaga-Fernandez, 50 in the crosswalk. The women, relatives visiting New York from Spain, had planned to return home on Tuesday but were hospitalized.

The Post reported that the turning driver had a green light, neglecting to mention that the pedestrians would have also had a walk signal. In an interview from the hospital with the Daily News, the women set the record straight. “We were waiting to cross,” said Madariaga-Fernandez. “When the light turned, we started to cross. Suddenly, there was a bus… and it hit us.”

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At Jean Chambers Vigil, Urgent Pleas for Action Before Another Life Is Lost

John Chambers addresses last light's vigil for his wife Jean, killed last week by a turning driver at West End Avenue and 95th Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

John Chambers speaks at the vigil for his wife Jean, who was killed last week by a turning driver at West End Avenue and 95th Street. Photo: Stephen Miller

Yesterday evening, more than 100 people gathered on the corner of 95th Street and West End Avenue to remember 61-year-old Jean Chambers, killed last week by a turning driver while she had the “walk” signal. Jean’s husband and other traffic violence victims spoke at the vigil, and Council Member Helen Rosenthal announced that in the wake of this latest death, DOT will soon redesign at least 10 blocks of West End Avenue.

Jean Chambers is the fourth person killed in traffic within a two-block radius on the Upper West Side since January. After two nearby deaths at 96th Street and Broadway, DOT quickly implemented recommendations that had been developed last year. But it took yet another death to bring more street safety changes to the neighborhood.

“Jean came to 95th Street expressly to avoid 96th Street, because 96th Street and West End is especially treacherous,” said John Chambers, Jean’s husband. “There’s an irony there. She was very conscientious.”

Last night, Rosenthal said DOT has committed to a redesign of West End Avenue, a wide street with ill-defined lanes that handles lots of car traffic going to and from the West Side Highway. ”It will be at least ten blocks, and I think it’s going to be longer,” she said, adding that DOT will be making big changes soon. ”It’s going to be faster than you’ve ever seen,” she said. DOT said it hopes to work with Rosenthal and Community Board 7 to develop the project in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, there are a number of smaller changes DOT is making. Another speed hump on 95th Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive is planned, and a leading pedestrian interval at 95th Street and West End Avenue will be installed next week, DOT says. A ban on left turns from 95th to West End, the maneuver made by the driver who killed Chambers, was approved just days before Chambers’s death and implemented very recently [PDF]. The ban is only in effect from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on weekdays, however. Rosenthal hopes DOT will make it around-the-clock and install signs reminding drivers coming off the West Side Highway at 95th Street to drive carefully.

Many of these changes have been requested for years by parents at PS 75, where Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled his Vision Zero action agenda in February. John Decatur is a father of three and has two children at PS 75, where he serves as co-president of the PTA. “Many parents have told me about nearly getting hit by cars. At the crosswalk where Jean was killed, I had my kids in the crosswalk. A driver leaned out and said, ‘Get your fucking kids out of the crosswalk,” he said. “I had the light.”

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Here They Are: Meet Some of NYC’s Worst Sidewalk Hogs

Manetta’s Restaurant in Long Island City. Care for a nice pinot noir and some tailpipe exhaust with your entrée? Photo: ##https://twitter.com/alter_spaces/status/487685561558519808/photo/1##@alter_spaces##

Manetta’s Restaurant in Long Island City. Care for a nice pinot noir and some tailpipe exhaust with your entrée? Photo: @alter_spaces

We asked for photos of NYC’s worst sidewalk-hogging businesses, and readers responded.

We relaxed our guidelines a little to make room for government agencies. In the arena of public institutions that show no respect for people on foot, the United States Postal Service and employees of Metro-North in Harlem deserve special recognition.

More from LIC, where pedestrian safety is clearly not a priority for USPS, which seems to be using the sidewalk on 28th Street in Dutch Kills as a loading dock. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/DutchLic/status/486331011131654144/photo/1##@DutchLic##

Pedestrian safety is clearly not a priority for USPS, which seems to be using the sidewalk on 28th Street in Dutch Kills as a loading dock. Photo: @DutchLic

Not surprisingly, car-related businesses were a major force. To the car rental firms on the Upper West Side and car dealers in the Bronx, we salute your complete indifference to people who expect to use sidewalks for walking.

And a special shout-out goes to Manetta’s Restaurant in Long Island City, where the linguine nere comes with a side of valet combat parking.

You’ll notice that several of our winners have violated the law for years in full view of NYPD, which itself may be the city’s most notorious usurper of public space for vehicle storage.

Thanks to all who participated in our search. Everyone whose photo appeared on the blog will get a Streetfilms DVD.

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Another UWS Pedestrian Killed as Safety Recommendations Sit on the Shelf

Existing conditions at W. 95th Street and West End Avenue, where a driver fatally struck Jean Chambers Thursday. Chamber was hit in the north crosswalk as the driver turned left from W. 95th onto northbound West End Ave. Image: Nelson\Nygaard

Existing conditions at W. 95th Street and West End Avenue, where a driver fatally struck Jean Chambers Thursday. Chambers was hit in the north crosswalk as the driver turned left from W. 95th onto northbound West End Ave. Image: Nelson\Nygaard

A proposal for safety improvements on the Upper West Side might have prevented the crash that killed a pedestrian Thursday, but the plan was not acted upon by Community Board 7 or DOT.

At approximately 11 a.m. yesterday a 50-year-old motorist turning left from W. 95th Street onto West End Avenue struck Jean Chambers in the crosswalk, knocking her underneath the Ford SUV he was driving, according to reports.

Jean Chambers. Photo via DNAinfo

Jean Chambers. Photo via DNAinfo

From DNAinfo:

“She had the walk sign and the light was green for the car too,” said doorman Bilbil Loka, 32, who witnessed the accident from his post at 710 West End Ave. “But the driver made a very short left turn, going uptown.”

“He dragged her for almost 30 feet, everybody heard her scream.”

Chambers, an artist who lived nearby, was pronounced dead at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. She was 61.

The intersection where Chambers was killed was one of a number of Upper West Side crossings included in a 2013 pedestrian safety study by consulting firm Nelson\Nygaard [PDF]. The study was commissioned by local City Council members, but Community Board 7 sat on the report’s recommendations until a series of pedestrian deaths this year spurred residents to demand action from the city.

Following the deaths of  Cooper StockAlexander Shear, and Samantha Lee — all killed by drivers within the study area last January — DOT added pedestrian space and turn restrictions at Broadway and W. 96th Street, where Lee was struck.

Plans for other intersections remain on the shelf, despite known hazards to pedestrians. The study, for example, describes conditions that led to the crash that killed Jean Chambers: “vehicles turn left northbound from W 95 St onto West End Ave at wide angles and high speeds, creating pedestrian conflicts.”

In the wake of the fourth pedestrian fatality in the same immediate area this year, DOT says it may give pedestrians more crossing time at the intersection where yesterday’s crash occurred, will institute a left turn ban there for 10 hours a week, and is considering a new speed bump.

To slow drivers down, Nelson\Nygaard recommends more substantial changes, including curb extensions, pedestrian islands, and banning left turns.

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NYPD Lied About 2009 Chase That Killed Brooklyn Pedestrian Violetta Krzyzak

The aftermath of the police chase that killed Violetta Krzyzak, which NYPD said didn’t happen. Photo: Graham T. Beck

Aftermath of the police chase that killed Violetta Krzyzak, which NYPD said didn’t happen. Photo: Graham T. Beck

Court documents indicate police were driving in pursuit of a man when he struck and killed a Greenpoint pedestrian five years ago, contrary to NYPD denials and confirming statements from witnesses who told Streetsblog the crash occurred during a high-speed chase.

Jose Maldonado was driving a stolen minivan when he passed an unmarked police car near the intersection of Graham Avenue and Jackson Street on the afternoon of April 27, 2009, according to a recent ruling from the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court. As Officer Steven Truglio approached the van on foot, Maldonado drove off. Police sped after Maldonado as he ran red lights and went against traffic on one-way streets.

“It is undisputed that defendant consistently drove well above the 30 miles per hour speed limit and violated numerous traffic rules as he attempted to evade capture by the police,” court documents say. “The police followed with lights and sirens activated as defendant drove towards Manhattan Avenue, a major thoroughfare and commercial hub.”

Maldonado drove north on Manhattan Avenue, swerving head-on toward southbound traffic as he passed other drivers. He “did not even apply his brakes” as a pedestrian dove out of his path at Milton Street, and continued running lights and driving in the wrong lane as he approached Manhattan Avenue at India Street, where he hit Violetta Krzyzak.

Her body flew into the air upon impact and landed over 165 feet, or almost one block, away from the point of collision. A witness who saw the moment of impact estimated that defendant was driving at 70 m.p.h., while another bystander thought his speed was closer to 80 m.p.h.

Maldonado “did not brake” after striking Krzyzak. He crashed into parked vehicles five blocks away, at Manhattan Avenue and Dupont Street, and was finally tackled by witnesses when he tried to flee on foot.

Krzyzak, 37, died at the scene. She was married and had a 20-year-old daughter, according to the Greenpoint Gazette.

Graham T. Beck, who came upon the scene the after the crash, wrote a series of stories for Streetsblog with quotes from multiple witnesses who saw the white minivan being chased by police. But weeks later at a community council meeting, Deputy Inspector Dennis Fulton, then the commanding officer of the 94th Precinct, said there was no pursuit.

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Who Are NYC’s Worst Sidewalk Hogs? Keep Those Tweets Coming

Car rental outlets on W. 83rd Street in Manhattan don’t own the sidewalk. They just hog it like they do. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/kencoughlin/status/485457059551260672/photo/1##@kencoughlin##

Car rental outlets on W. 83rd Street in Manhattan don’t own the sidewalk. They just hog it like they do. Photo: @kencoughlin

There’s still time to submit your photos of sidewalk-hogging businesses.

Inspired by Clarence Eckerson’s pics of a car dealership that swallowed a new sidewalk extension in Sunnyside, we’re looking for other examples across the city. Readers who tweet the most shameless #sidewalkhogs shots will be rewarded with Streetfilms DVDs. Be sure to include location info in your tweets.

Here’s some of what we’re seeing so far.

Manetta’s Restaurant in Long Island City takes over the sidewalk and the access ramp for valet parking. Classy. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/alter_spaces/status/449690329835249664/photo/1##@alter_spaces##

Manetta’s Restaurant in Long Island City takes over the sidewalk and the access ramp for valet parking. Classy. Photo: @alter_spaces

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