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Posts from the Taxis & Limos Category

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No Charges for Cabbie Who Severely Injured Woman on Sidewalk Near NYU

A yellow cab driver severely injured a woman on a sidewalk in Greenwich Village this morning.

The victim was struck at around 10:50 a.m. on University Place near East Eighth Street. Gothamist says she was “pinned between the taxi and a stucco wall.”

A reporter for Washington Square News, an independent NYU outlet, said the victim was unconscious at the scene. “The woman was facing away from the cab, and when it hit her, she went up in the air and the cab basically pinned her against the wall,” a witness said.

The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital in critical condition, Gothamist reported. No charges were filed against the driver.

Sidewalk collisions resulted in at least 14 fatalities in the last 12 months alone, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. If the city keeps a data set on the number of people hurt and killed by motorists on sidewalks, in buildings, and other places drivers are not supposed to be, we haven’t seen it.

University Place has excess width and not much car traffic. A narrower roadbed and traffic-calming measures might have prevented this crash.

This morning’s crash is reminiscent of the one that cost tourist Sian Green part of her leg in 2013. Since then, the city adopted Cooper’s Law to yank licenses from cab drivers who hurt pedestrians while violating victims’ right of way. But the Taxi and Limousine doesn’t use the law to take reckless cabbies off the road, in part because police and district attorneys so rarely file charges.

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The TLC Has Never Used Cooper’s Law to Permanently Revoke a TLC License

In the 18 months it has been on the books, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has never used Cooper’s Law to permanently revoke the TLC license of a cab driver for hurting or killing someone.

TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi

Cooper’s Law, which took effect in September 2014, allows the TLC to suspend the TLC licenses of cab drivers involved in crashes that result in death or critical injury. If a TLC licensee is convicted of a traffic violation or crime for causing such a crash, the law requires the agency to revoke that person’s TLC license.

The law was named after 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who was killed on the Upper West Side in January 2014 by a yellow cab driver who failed to yield. Cooper’s Law was one of several traffic safety measures adopted to advance Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.

“On the whole our drivers are safe,” TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said at the mayor’s Vision Zero bill signing ceremony, “but there are a few bad apples and we need to remove them.”

That isn’t happening — at least under the aegis of Cooper’s Law.

Vision Zero transparency laws do not require the TLC to publish data on what happens after the agency suspends the TLC license of a driver who hurts or kills someone. Streetsblog filed a freedom of information request in February after several unsuccessful attempts to obtain data on case outcomes from the TLC. We received the agency’s response earlier this week.

“There have been no TLC licensees that have had their license permanently revoked for injuring or killing a pedestrian or cyclist pursuant to Cooper’s Law,” the TLC legal affairs office wrote.

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TLC Won’t Say If Any Cab Drivers Have Lost Licenses Under Cooper’s Law

Streetsblog has filed a freedom of information request for data on how many times the Taxi and Limousine Commission has permanently revoked TLC licenses of cab drivers for injuring and killing people since the adoption of Cooper’s Law. The request follows several unsuccessful attempts to obtain the data from the TLC.

Cooper Stock

Has the Taxi and Limousine Commission ever used Cooper’s Law to take a reckless cab driver off the streets for good? The TLC won’t say.

Cooper’s Law gives the TLC discretion to suspend the TLC license of a cab driver who is involved in a crash that causes death or critical injury. In cases where a TLC licensee is convicted of a traffic violation or a crime stemming from such a crash, the law requires the TLC to revoke that person’s license to drive a cab.

The law was named after Cooper Stock, a 9-year-old Manhattan boy who in January 2014 was fatally struck by a yellow cab driver who failed to yield, and was one of a number of traffic safety measures adopted to advance Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.

Local Law 28, another Vision Zero regulation, requires the TLC to publish data on how many TLC-licensed drivers are involved in crashes resulting in critical injury or death, the number of cases where action against a driver’s TLC license was warranted and, of those, how many summary TLC license suspensions were imposed. The law also says TLC should publish information on subsequent “enforcement actions taken.”

But the TLC does not publicize what happens after the agency suspends the TLC license of a driver who hurts or kills someone, and does not list the number of TLC license revocations or reinstatements. Without knowing how cases are resolved, the public can’t gauge how effective Cooper’s Law is in getting dangerous cab drivers off the streets.

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Epileptic Cab Driver on Trial for Murder for Bronx Sidewalk Killings

Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown were on a Grand Concourse sidewalk when they were run over and killed by Emilio Garcia.

Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown were on a Grand Concourse sidewalk when they were run over and killed by Emilio Garcia.

The driver of a green cab who killed a child and a man on a Bronx sidewalk last year was charged with murder.

The Bronx district attorney’s office said Emilio Garcia was not taking his epilepsy medication when he fatally struck 4-year-old Tierre Clark and 25-year-old Kadeem Brown on the Grand Concourse at E. 170th Street on March 20, 2015.

Press accounts published after the crash said Clark injured two other people. One of the injured victims was reportedly a 55-year-old man. The other was Sanequa Howe, Tierre’s mother, who suffered bone fractures.

“When we are waiting for the bus, she gave me a kiss and she was dancing around, she never saw it coming,” Howe told WABC.

Gothamist reported that, according to the DA’s office, Garcia was aware of his epilepsy and had been in another crash, causing injuries to a second driver, four months before Tierre and Brown were killed.

The DA’s office told Streetsblog last October that Garcia was charged with manslaughter and homicide. According to court records, current charges against Garcia are two counts of murder, one count of assault (a class D felony), two counts of negligent homicide (a class E felony), and one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment.

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NYC Motorists Kill 2 Pedestrians and Critically Injure 2 Others in 3 Days

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

Giovani Romano was charged with failing to yield for fatally striking Alfiya Djuraeva at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. He was not charged for taking her life. Image: Google Maps

In four separate crashes since Thursday, at least two people have been struck and killed while walking, and two others were critically injured.

Last Thursday afternoon Giovani Romano hit 56-year-old Alfiya Djuraeva with a Buick while turning left at 20th Avenue and Bath Avenue in Bath Beach, according to the Daily News and WNBC. Djuraeva suffered trauma to her head and torso and died at Lutheran Hospital.

Romano, 74, was issued a desk appearance ticket for failing to yield, but was not charged for the act of killing Alfiya Djuraeva. The crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Vincent Gentile.

Early Saturday morning, a BMW driver going the wrong way on 181st Street near Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights hit two people and a pickup truck, then fled the scene, the Daily News reported. A male pedestrian, 46, was killed. The second victim, a 46-year-old woman, was hospitalized. The deceased victim’s name was being withheld pending family notification, NYPD told Streetsblog.

Police charged Jonathan Segura, 34, with manslaughter, leaving the scene, and drunk driving, after Segura turned himself in, the News said.

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Inside the City Hall Uber Traffic Study: Where’s the Beef?

Deliberately or not, the year-to-year VMT differences are impenetrable.

Deliberately or not, the report makes it very hard to discern how the mileage of different traffic sources is changing. Graphic via nyc.gov

What Gertrude Stein said about Oakland is what must be said about City Hall’s new traffic study: There’s no there there.

A research effort that was going to explain how congestion in Manhattan has increased even as vehicle trips to the core have dropped has shrunk to a 12-page report bereft of conclusions supported by evidence.

It may be true, as the report claims, that increases in Uber traffic in the Central Business District (CBD) have been largely offset by decreases in trips by traditional yellow cabs, leading to little or no net traffic impact. But as best as I can tell, that assertion is based on hypothetical 2010 and 2020 traffic estimates plucked from a NYC travel model and interpolated to 2014 and 2015.

Not only is this kind of interpolation volatile and unreliable, it should have been unnecessary since yellows are fully (and competently) tracked by the Taxi and Limousine Commission while Uber was opening its books to the city’s consultant.

The question of Uber “substitution” or “additionality” vis-à-vis yellow cabs was the presumed fulcrum of the $2 million study. Ignoring the wealth of data tailor-made to answer that question, and relying on constructed numbers instead, as the study appears to have done, is dumbfounding.

The City Hall report is almost as opaque in its asserted findings of factors that have contributed to increased congestion. Here’s a rundown:

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Criminal Court Judge Upholds Constitutionality of Right of Way Law

A judge ruled against a motorist who filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Right of Way Law.

Silvia Gallo and her son, former MMA star Jorge Gurgel. Photo: Cage Potato

Silvia Gallo and her son, former MMA star Jorge Gurgel. Photo: Cage Potato

MD Hossain, a yellow cab driver, was the first person charged after the law took effect in August 2014, when he drove a taxi into 58-year-old Silvia Gallo, killing her, while turning into a crosswalk at Madison Avenue and E. 79th Street.

According to a ruling by New York City Criminal Court Judge Ann E. Scherzer, Hossain claimed the law violates the state and U.S. constitutions by “undermin[ing] the very concept of innocent until proven guilty” and “purport[ing] to regulate alleged reckless driving ‘by imposing criminal penalties on a strict liability’ basis.” Hossain also challenged the law as it was applied in his case.

Hossain claimed the Right of Way Law does not require proof of driver negligence, or proof that a driver committed “any other traffic violations,” in order to be held liable for harming people, and therefore improperly shifts the burden of proof to motorists who are charged under the law.

Scherzer ruled that strict liability laws are authorized by the New York State code, and rejected Hossain’s assertion that the Right of Way Law presumes driver guilt.

In fact, to sustain a conviction for this charge the People would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) defendant operated a motor vehicle, (2) that defendant’s motor vehicle caused contact with a pedestrian or cyclist, (3) that the pedestrian or cyclist had the right of way at the time of the impact … and (4) suffered physical injury as a result of the collision.

In addition to the elements listed above, the statute provides that physical injury that was not caused by a driver’s failure to exercise due care does not violate the statute.

“None of [the] defendant’s arguments come close” to demonstrating that the law is unconstitutional, Scherzer wrote.

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A Flat “Congestion Charge” for Taxis and Uber: Yea or Nay?

Would a new surcharge on taxi and for-hire vehicle trips in Manhattan below 59th Street thin out traffic on congested streets? Not much it won’t, according to transportation economist Charles Komanoff, whose traffic analysis has helped shape the Move NY toll reform campaign.

Every year the city’s Independent Budget Office releases a list of options to cut expenses and raise revenue for the city budget [PDF]. This year, the IBO suggests a surcharge of $2.25 for taxi trips and $2.75 for FHV trips beginning below 59th Street (page 88). The difference makes up for the $0.50 surcharge earmarked for the MTA that’s currently levied only on taxi rides.

The IBO’s taxi surcharge idea comes at an intriguing moment. The de Blasio administration is currently finalizing its report on the effect of Uber, Lyft, and other app-based car services on Manhattan congestion. And the Move NY plan still has an opening in Albany in the next few months, as Governor Cuomo and the state legislature search for ways to pay for the MTA capital program and upstate roads and bridges.

On the surface, the surcharge proposal seems to have some appeal. Implementing the fee only for trips starting in the traffic-choked central business district could hypothetically ease congestion by spreading taxi and FHV traffic outward. And adding an MTA surcharge on Uber, Lyft, and similar services could help make up for the $10 million in annual revenue the agency says it has lost due to the rise of e-hail apps.

But Komanoff says a flat surcharge, as opposed to one based on trip length, won’t do much as a traffic reduction strategy, because it privileges long rides over short ones, which would be “both unfair and inefficient.” In addition, a taxi/FHV charge alone, without broader toll reform, would have a marginal effect on congestion. Komanoff put the IBO’s proposal to the test in his Balanced Transportation Analyzer and found that a $2.25 surcharge on taxis would lead to a 1.4 percent increase in traffic speeds — and a 1.8 percent decrease in FHV usage.

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Drivers Killed 3 Seniors This Weekend, Bringing 10-Day Death Toll to 11

The wave of traffic violence that began with the deaths of three people on Halloween continued over the weekend, when motorists killed three pedestrians in Manhattan and Queens. Drivers have killed at least 11 people walking in the city in the last 10 days.

The yellow cab driver who killed 88-year-old Luisa Rosario was charged under the Right of Way Law. Photo via Daily News

The yellow cab driver who killed 88-year-old Luisa Rosario was charged under the Right of Way Law. Photo via Daily News

The three most recent victims were all seniors. At approximately 12:45 a.m. Sunday, Salifu Abubkar drove a yellow cab into 88-year-old Luisa Rosario as she crossed W. 109th Street at Columbus Avenue in the crosswalk with the walk signal, according to published accounts. Abubkar was turning right from Columbus onto 109th, Gothamist reported, as Rosario was crossing 109th from north to south. Rosario died at St. Luke’s hospital.

NYPD charged Abubkar with violating the Right of Way Law, according to the Times. Abubkar’s license to drive a cab was suspended.

The Daily News reported that Abubkar, who is 73, had been at the wheel for 16 hours when the crash occurred, four hours longer than cab drivers are supposed to work during a single shift. As Streetsblog has reported, New York City cabbies are permitted to log more hours per shift than long-haul truckers who drive on interstate highways.

Council Member Mark Levine, who represents the district where Rosario was killed, issued the following statement:

The tragic death of Luisa Rosario is a painful reminder that the grueling conditions many taxi drivers work under aren’t just bad for cabbies, they put all of us at risk. Mr. Abubkar reportedly drove at least 16 hours every Saturday — proof that the City is not enforcing the legal limit of 12-hour shifts. We need to put mechanisms in place to make sure no other New Yorkers are endangered by fatigued taxi drivers exceeding the legal limit for hours behind the wheel.

Rather than raise standards and improve working conditions for cab drivers under Vision Zero, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has made it easier to obtain a TLC license, as cab medallion owners complain about competition from app-based services Uber and Lyft. Under current rules prospective cab drivers are not required to pass a New York City road test. The TLC has taken no action to meaningfully address factors that make driving a cab a stressful, low-paying job.

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NYPD Isn’t Enforcing Mayor de Blasio’s Key Vision Zero Law

Within months of taking office, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed into law several bills intended to add teeth to his Vision Zero street safety initiative. In the year since taking effect, however, the most important of those laws was barely used by NYPD.

“If

If Mayor de Blasio is serious about Vision Zero, he will direct Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to apply the Right of Way Law as it was intended. Photo: Policy Exchange/Flickr

The Right of Way Law, also known as Section 19-190, made it a misdemeanor for motorists to harm people walking and biking with the right of way. It took effect last August.

The Right of Way Law was supposed to bring an end to the common scenario of reckless New York City motorists hurting and killing people without consequence. The key to the law is that ordinary precinct cops can apply it, not just the small number of specialists in the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad. NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said all 35,000 uniformed officers would be trained to enforce the Right of Way Law, but the department has applied it only a handful of times in the 14 months since it was enacted.

According to data provided by the mayor’s office, from August through December of 2014 NYPD made 15 arrests for Section 19-190 violations, resulting from 21 investigations. In addition, police made one arrest for reckless driving and issued one summons for careless driving.

So far this year, NYPD has arrested 20 drivers under the Right of Way Law, after 41 investigations. Police also issued seven careless driving summonses resulting from those investigations. Twelve investigations are ongoing, the mayor’s office said. In addition, 11 other drivers have been charged under a Right of Way Law provision that applies to failure-to-yield cases that don’t involve injury (more on that later).

The scale of enforcement remains far below the scale of damage caused by motorists who fail to yield.

From September 2014 through September 2015, drivers injured 11,109 people walking in NYC, and killed 140, according to DOT data. Since failure to yield is the primary factor in 27 percent of serious pedestrian injuries and deaths, according to DOT’s 2010 Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan [PDF], it’s all but certain that the vast majority of drivers who violate the Right of Way Law are not charged by NYPD.

Nor is NYPD increasing enforcement. Police averaged three Right of Way charges per month last year, compared to an average of two cases a month in 2015. This suggests that Right of Way investigations remain the province of the Collision Investigation Squad and are not being pursued by precinct cops.

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