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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 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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23,000 Cars on NYC Streets and No One Is Tracking Uber’s Safety Record

Uber accounts for a majority of “black cars” in NYC, but the company’s safety record is a mystery. Drivers in vehicles assigned to city Uber bases have killed at least two people walking in 2015, including 12-year-old Ervi Secundino. Image: WNBC

Uber accounts for a majority of “black cars” in NYC, but the company’s safety record is a mystery. Image: WNBC

With more than 23,000 affiliated vehicles, Uber accounts for 66 percent of all “black cars” in NYC. Crain’s recently reported that Uber nearly doubled its NYC fleet in the past year. Even as Uber adds several hundred cars a month, no one seems to be keeping track of how many traffic collisions involve Uber drivers, making it impossible to assess the company’s safety record.

Drivers affiliated with New York City Uber bases are known to have been involved in two fatal crashes in 2015. In January an Uber driver killed golf pro Wesley Mensing and injured his girlfriend Erin Sauchelli on the Upper East Side. The driver was reinstated by the TLC and Uber after a brief suspension. In May the driver of a car assigned to an Uber base killed 12-year-old Ervi Secundino in a school zone in Harlem. Witnesses said the driver was “flying” at the time of the collision.

After an Uber driver hit four kids and a mother on a sidewalk in the Bronx, Streetsblog asked around for Uber crash data to see how its safety record stacks up against other for-hire services. I checked with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, NYPD, and Uber. No one had an answer.

New York City has 35,528 active black cars — livery cabs reserved for pre-arranged trips by customers who generally pay with an account — and Uber bases account for 23,349 of them, according to the TLC. (Uber also has a luxury limousine base, with 657 affiliated vehicles.) All Uber drivers must have a TLC for-hire vehicle license, which is easier to obtain than a license to drive a yellow cab.

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DA Robert Johnson: Manslaughter Charges for Cab Driver Who Killed Two

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

Bronx DA Robert Johnson says cab driver Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he killed Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown. Image: News 12

District Attorney Robert Johnson has filed felony charges against the green cab driver who killed two people on a Bronx sidewalk.

Johnson’s office told Gothamist Emilio Garcia was off his epilepsy medication when he hit 5-year-old Tierre Clark and Kadeem Brown, 25, at the Grand Concourse and E. 170th Street on March 20.

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Bronx DA Robert Johnson

Reports published after the crash said Clark also hit a 55-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman, who according to some outlets was Tierre’s mother, as they waited for a bus.

From Gothamist:

According to a spokeswoman for the Bronx DA’s office, Assistant DA Morgan Dolan argued in court that Garcia had been aware of his epilepsy, and had also been involved in a minor crash on December 31, 2014 — a few months before the crash that killed Brown and Clark. The earlier crash took place at East 149th Street and Brook Avenue in the South Bronx last New Years Eve, and resulted in minor injuries to another driver.

Garcia was charged with manslaughter and homicide, Johnson’s office told Streetsblog. Court records say he was arraigned on October 15 and held on $100,000 bond.

The Bronx crash resembles the case of garbage truck driver Auvryn Scarlett, who killed two tourists in Manhattan in 2008 after he went off his medication and had a seizure behind the wheel. Scarlett was convicted of murder, but last week an appeals court reduced the conviction to manslaughter. Prosecutors said Scarlett did not inform his employer or the DMV that he had epilepsy and that he went off his medication so he could drink.

Garcia’s trial is scheduled to begin in January.


Cab Driver Who Ran Over Kids on Bronx Sidewalk Blames Car

The livery cab driver who ran over four children and a woman on a Bronx sidewalk Wednesday blamed the car he was driving.

The driver, identified as Bialo Daillo, spoke with WNBC yesterday.

… Daillo … said he was heartbroken by the accident. The driver said he stepped on the break [sic] and the car wouldn’t stop. He said he feels fine physically, but is sad for those who were injured.

“I just care about the other people; I’m not bleeding. I’m sorry for the other people,” Daillo said. “Nobody wants that. Nobody wants this. I don’t know what happened.”

Daillo was driving a Toyota Camry. Video posted by WNBC shows him speed toward the intersection of Valentine Avenue and E. Kingsbridge Road, drive over a raised median, re-enter the roadway, jump the curb a second time and crash into a building where a group of children were waiting for a school bus. In the video the brake lights of the car don’t appear to activate until after Daillo is on the sidewalk where the victims were standing.

Three of the victims were a 33-year-old woman and her two kids. Two other children were also hurt. According to WNBC, an 8-year-old girl who was pinned under the car was in intensive care at Jacobi Hospital with a broken pelvis and broken legs.

Daillo, who according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission has held a for-hire vehicle license since 1998, works for Uber. Uber told Streetsblog he did not drive for the company yesterday. The TLC suspended Daillo from driving a cab pending the outcome of the NYPD investigation. Unless he is convicted of a crime or traffic offense, he will likely be reinstated by the TLC.

Immediately after the crash, anonymous police sources told the Post “no criminality was suspected.” No charges were filed yesterday. The NYPD public information office could not provide an update on the case this afternoon.

The crash occurred in the 52nd Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Ritchie Torres.

Mayor de Blasio’s office sent a statement on the crash today, after I asked for one. It did not say the mayor planned to take any action relevant to the crash, such as directing DOT to inspect the site or reform rules that allow cab drivers who harm people to retain TLC licenses.

See prior Streetsblog coverage of yesterday’s crash here, here, and here.


TLC: Driver Who Hit Children on Bronx Sidewalk Works for Uber [Updated]

Warning: Graphic video

Updates below

The livery cab driver who sped onto a sidewalk and injured a woman and several children this morning in the Bronx was driving a vehicle affiliated with an Uber base, according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg said the cab operates from Uber’s Schmecken hub. Fromberg said the driver has held a TLC for-hire vehicle license since 1998.

The driver’s name has been shielded by the TLC and NYPD. The Post reported that he is 57 years old.

Video of the crash, published by the Post, shows a group of kids standing next to a building at 229 E. Kingsbridge Road when the car, a Toyota Camry, enters the frame at high speed, running them over.

The driver told police he “lost control” of the cab, according to the Post. NYPD used the same language to describe the crash to Streetsblog this morning.

Three of the victims were a 33-year-old woman and her two kids. Two other children were also hurt. Injuries to the children included broken legs, head trauma, and chest trauma, the Post reported. FDNY said two of the children were hospitalized in critical condition.

Police had filed no charges or issued no summonses as of this afternoon. Unless the driver is convicted of a crime or traffic violation he will in all likelihood remain in good standing with the TLC.

Drivers working for Uber or driving Uber-affiliated vehicles have killed at least two New York City pedestrians this year, including a 12-year-old boy who was hit in a school zone. A lawsuit stemming from one of the crashes claims the driver was distracted by Uber software. Speed was reportedly a factor in both collisions.

We have a message in with Uber for further details on the driver and the crash.

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NYPD: “No Criminality” as Cab Driver Runs Over Kids on Bronx Sidewalk

Several people, including a number of children, were seriously injured when a livery cab driver drove onto a sidewalk in the Bronx this morning.

At around 7:45 the driver, a man whose name was not released, “lost control” of a Toyota Camry at 229 E. Kingsbridge Road, according to NYPD. A police spokesperson said the driver hit one woman and four children on the sidewalk. Four victims were hospitalized in stable condition and one in serious condition, NYPD said.

FDNY said there were six victims: two in critical condition, three in stable condition, and one with a minor injury. The two critically injured victims were children, according to a fire department spokesperson.

NYPD told Streetsblog the Collision Investigation Squad, which works only the most serious traffic crashes, was dispatched to the scene.

WNBC reported that the driver was taken into custody this morning, but NYPD could not confirm. Unnamed police sources told the Post “no criminality was suspected.”

From the Post:

A passer-by comforted a 5-year-old boy as emergency workers arrived at Valentine Avenue and East Kingsbridge Road in Fordham Manor after the 7:45 a.m. accident

“I held his hand and he said, ‘I want to see my sister, I want to see my sister!’ He was so scared. I said, ‘Look at me! Look at my eyes! You’re going to be OK,’” said Nilda Guerrero, 57.

“He was crying and he wanted to hold his mother’s hand. I pretended I was his mother. And I held his hand. And I said, ‘Miguel, you’re going to be fine,’” she added.

“I heard a noise — a loud boom and a crash. There were people screaming. I ran over and there was a mother and daughter under the car,” said Migdalia Morales, 42, a parks worker.

“There was a little girl that had her legs stuck under the car next to the building,” she said

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Why Is There So Much Traffic in NYC? It’s the Free Roads, Stupid

Since the de Blasio administration attempted to cap for-hire cars this summer, the debate over Manhattan traffic has gotten louder, but not more productive. Uber claimed it definitely wasn’t the problem. Some council members wondered if bike lanes were slowing down cars. Amid all the noise, something important got lost.

When roads are free, traffic is clogged. Photo: Kevin Coles/Flickr

When New York streets are free, New York streets are clogged. Photo: Kevin Coles/Flickr

At a hearing about Manhattan traffic this morning convened by Borough President Gale Brewer, a simple consensus emerged: The fundamental issue is the limited amount of street space in the Manhattan core and the practically unlimited demand to use it. Unless New York puts a price on roads, traffic congestion is going to remain intense.

“We can’t unsnarl our streets unless vehicles that take up the space on the street are charged a price. Otherwise, the space that we clear out today — by capping tour buses or Uber cars or 18-wheelers — will be filled tomorrow by other vehicle owners,” said transportation economist Charles Komanoff. “And the price needs to apply to all vehicles… based on the space that they take up. Because space is a finite resource.”

“The least efficient mode of transportation is the single-occupant car,” said “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, who in addition to his Move New York toll reform proposal, backed the elimination of parking placards for most government employees. “There is no reason to be parking for free on the most valuable land possibly on Earth.”

Others proposed more aggressive ideas, like banning personal cars completely. “Private vehicles coming into Manhattan is insanity,” said Steve McLoughlin, an organizer with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 15, a union for black car drivers. “I don’t think that Manhattan can handle much more than the professional drivers, than the trucks that are necessary to supply our businesses, and the first responders.”

McLoughlin, who commutes from Monmouth County each day, backed Move New York toll reform as a step in the right direction for reducing congestion.

Uber also backed Move New York, which would include surcharges for taxi and for-hire vehicles below W. 110th and E. 96th streets. (The Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents medallion owners, backs the plan too.)

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Uber Should Pay an MTA Fee Like Yellow Cabs, But the Fee Should Be Smarter

One of the points of debate over Uber’s operations in New York is whether its trips should contribute the same 50-cent surcharge to the MTA that yellow and green taxis do. It’s an easy question to answer in some ways: It doesn’t matter whether a car is yellow, green, or black — if some for-hire vehicles have to pay an MTA fee, they all should. But as long as this taxi surcharge is in the public eye, there’s also an opportunity to rethink the fee itself and make it smarter.

It shouldn't matter what color your taxi is -- but it should matter where the trip goes. Photo: Shuggy/Flickr

It shouldn’t matter what color your taxi is — but it should matter where the trip goes. Photo: Shuggy/Flickr

Ideally, the surcharge paid by yellow taxis, Uber, and other for-hire services would be higher in the congested Manhattan core than in outer-borough neighborhoods lacking decent transit service. While that wouldn’t be a substitute for real congestion pricing of all motor vehicle trips, it could set a precedent and demonstrate the impact of congestion-based fees on a substantial portion of Manhattan traffic.

Here’s the way things are set up today: A 50-cent surcharge on all green and yellow taxi trips will generate an estimated $87 million for the MTA this year, according to the Citizens Budget Commission. Black cars, including Uber and Lyft, are subject to a sales tax that isn’t paid by metered taxis. A sliver of that — slightly more than one-third of one percent — will generate an estimated $7 million for the MTA this year.

Because of this imbalance, Uber’s growth is poised to eat into MTA funding. CBC projects the MTA will actually lose revenue as Uber trips grow and taxi trips continue to decline.

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the problem on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show last week. “We also have to support the MTA, which is in the interest of all of us, and that happens right now through a certain number of taxis, but it doesn’t happen through Uber, for example,” he said.

The fee could also be restructured in a way that addresses problems beyond the MTA’s coffers.

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For Some, Uber’s Role in Congesting Manhattan Still Hidden in Plain Sight

Graph: I Quant NY

Graph: I Quant NY

Maybe it’s the sleekness. Or the digital disruptiveness. Or something slipped in the water bottle on your seat. Whatever it is, some data mavens are contorting into pretzels to deny the obvious — that Uber is contributing to the slowdown in Manhattan traffic.

The latest Don’t Blame Uber entry was a New Yorker post over the weekend by Ben Wellington, a Pratt statistics prof and mainstay of the “Open Data Movement” via his I Quant NY website. “Uber Isn’t Causing New York City’s Traffic Slowdown,” screamed the headline, though curiously, Wellington didn’t quite write that.

Here’s the gist of his post:

At the start of 2013, cabs were getting faster by about 0.0015 miles per hour per day. By mid-2014, they were getting slower by about 0.0013 miles per hour per day — or about one mile per hour every two years. In other words, every day, cabs were getting slower less quickly than they had the previous day, even as Uber was expanding its fleet. This is the opposite of what we would expect if for-hire vehicles were the main force behind falling traffic speeds.

Let’s unpack that.

First, mining the Taxi and Limousine Commission’s humongous database of all yellow taxicab trips from 2011 through last month — the period in which yellows have been GPS-capable — Wellington computed daily and monthly average speeds for the entire fleet (excluding ultra-long trips that might skew the averages). As the graph shows, average taxi speeds climbed from 2011 before peaking in mid-2013 and heading south. This dovetails with City Hall’s insistence that traffic in the Manhattan core has been worsening, although the drop in Wellington’s graph is less severe than the city’s figures.

So far, so good. Wellington then zeroed in on the rates of change in speeds and produced the quoted passage above. Since use of Uber really took off only around two years ago, it makes more sense to focus on the most recent 24 months. Eyeballing Wellington’s graph, average cab speeds fell an estimated 0.48 miles an hour from mid-2013 to mid-2014 and another 0.32 mph from mid-2014 to mid-2015. In effect, the decline in speeds shrank by a third. Because Uber’s presence on NYC streets has been accelerating, he reasoned, the slowdown should have been getting more pronounced, not less.

Since it didn’t, something other than Uber must have caused the slowdown.

Q.E.D.? No. For a host of reasons:

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