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Posts from the "Chinatown" Category

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Precinct Where Drivers Killed Seniors in Crosswalks Ramps Up Bike Tickets

Photo: Elie Z. Perler/Bowery Boogie

Handing out traffic tickets that do nothing to improve safety? This will end well. Photo: Elie Z. Perler/Bowery Boogie

If you’re an NYPD precinct commander interested in issuing lots of tickets to cyclists in a short period of time, the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge bike path is a tempting place to send your officers. While the intersection itself has fewer crashes than other parts of the neighborhood, the regular stream of cyclists funneling to and from the bridge path makes for easy pickings.

The Manhattan Bridge bike path touches down at the intersection of Forsyth and Canal Streets in Chinatown. Sheltered from most of the dangers posed by bridge-bound drivers using the western section of Canal Street, the intersection is usually busy with people walking and people on bikes. The traffic signal there often plays second fiddle to the eyes and ears of pedestrians and cyclists, who cross when there is no oncoming traffic.

Combine this setup with the fact that the Manhattan Bridge is one of the city’s most popular bike routes, and you’ve got a recipe for a ticket bonanza — not for run-of-the-mill jaywalking, of course, but for cyclists who choose to go against the light. On Sunday, the 5th Precinct parked a cruiser around the corner on Forsyth and stationed an officer there to hand out tickets. When one cyclist didn’t stop after the officer shouted, he was pushed to the ground.

“Seeing a guy get tackled off of a bike is not something you see every day,” said Elie Z. Perler, who saw the confrontation before posting about it on his neighborhood blog, Bowery Boogie. “It just seemed excessive.”

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Chinatown Biz Group Fed Up With Placard Parkers Hogging Spaces All Day

Imagine if your neighborhood’s streets were used as an employee parking lot for a nearby office building, and the people in charge of enforcing the rules turned a blind eye, day in and day out, as they ticketed members of the public but ignored lawbreaking by their colleagues.

Well, there’s no need to imagine: That’s how parking works in Chinatown, and leaders from the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation are fed up after years of abuse.

Wellington Chen of the Chinatown Partnership LDC points to a placard parker who left his car on the street all day. Photo: Stephen Miller

Wellington Chen of the Chinatown Partnership LDC points to a placard parker who left his car on the street all day. Photo: Stephen Miller

The Partnership inventoried the neighborhood’s parking supply in August, looking at regulations and conditions for the approximately 3,000 on-street parking spaces within the BID’s service area, which is roughly bounded by Broome Street, Broadway, Worth Street, and Allen Street [PDF]. During the peak of summer vacation, the BID found that 24.4 percent of all on-street parking spots in that area were taken up by cars with government placards.

In recent years, the city and state have reduced the total number of placards available, but the streets of Chinatown continue to fill with private cars displaying government placards, sitting by the curb all day like it’s an employee parking lot. The Partnership isn’t the first to document this longstanding problem. A 2006 study by Transportation Alternatives showed only 12 percent of permits in the southern section of Chinatown were being used legally [PDF]. A survey for an NYPD environmental impact statement in 2006 found more than 1,100 cars illegally using placards near One Police Plaza [PDF].

The problem is most pervasive in the neighborhood’s southern end, which is full of courts and government offices. On a midday walk near the Partnership’s Chatham Square headquarters, more than half the parking spots were occupied by placard holders. “Chinatown’s largest population are government workers,” said Wellington Chen, the Partnership’s executive director. “We are far and above the single most affected community.”

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Chin Joins Victims’ Families to Blast Lax Enforcement of Street Safety Law

Michael Cheung speaks about his mother, who was killed in a Canal Street crosswalk by a driver last month. No charges have been filed against the driver. Photo: Margaret Chin/Twitter

Michael Cheung speaks about his mother, 90-year-old Sau Ying Lee, who was killed in a Canal Street crosswalk by a driver last month. No charges were filed. Photo: Margaret Chin/Twitter

Drivers have killed four pedestrians in and around Chinatown since late August. Despite a new law on the books that could be applied in some of these cases, NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance have not filed charges against the drivers. Yesterday, Council Member Margaret Chin gathered with victims’ families and community board leaders to demand justice. Chin also announced legislation calling on DOT to study street safety on busy truck routes like Canal Street.

Last month, a driver killed 90-year-old Sau Ying Lee in the crosswalk on Canal Street at Elizabeth Street. No charges have been filed against the driver. “My mom had the right of the way when she was crossing the street. According to the police report, my mom needed only two more steps and she could finish crossing,” said Michael Cheung, Lee’s son. ”New York City law says, ‘Okay, the driver’s not drunk, he’s not under any drug influence. Goodbye. Go and kill another pedestrian.’ That’s the message New York City is sending to the driver.”

Chin pointed to lax enforcement of the Right of Way Law, also known as Section 19-190, which allows for criminal penalties against drivers who strike pedestrians or cyclists with the right of way. “We need to see the law being strongly enforced against drivers who hit pedestrians in the crosswalk,” Chin said. ”At the very least, they should have been held accountable under that clear and simple law.”

NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan has said the department is training all officers, not just crash investigators, to enforce the Right of Way Law, but there is no word on when that process will be complete. So far, enforcement of the law has been inconsistent.

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Why Is NYPD Defending Hit-and-Run Drivers to the Press?

NYPD declined to speculate on whether a driver was speeding before a fatal hit-and-run crash, yet told the press the victim was jaywalking. Image: News 12

Update: The victim in the Rockaway Parkway crash was identified as Alex Davis, according to DNAinfo. Police said he was hit by the driver of a Ford Mustang. The driver remained at large as of November 7.

Hit-and-run drivers have killed two New York City pedestrians in the past week. After each crash NYPD sources either defended the motorist or blamed the victim in the press.

At approximately 9:30 p.m. last Thursday, the driver of a private sanitation truck ran over a 59-year-old man on Canal Street in Chinatown, according to NYPD. The man’s body was found near Centre Street, but police didn’t know where the collision occurred. NYPD had not released the victim’s name as of this morning, and no arrests had been made.

“It was not immediately clear if the driver was aware that a pedestrian had been hit, police said,” reported DNAinfo. To see justice done for this victim and his loved ones, this is a critical detail.

To secure a conviction against a hit-and-run driver in New York State, prosecutors must prove the motorist knew or had reason to know he hit someone, causing personal injury. Thanks to state laws that favor reckless drivers, when a New York motorist strikes a pedestrian and leaves the scene, “I didn’t see him” is not an admission of guilt, but a potent defense strategy. So in effect, NYPD has offered a preemptive defense for the motorist who claimed this person’s life.

In the second crash, a hit-and-run driver in a “dark-colored sedan” killed a 59-year-old man on Rockaway Parkway near Winthrop Avenue, in Brownsville, early Saturday. The victim’s identity is still being withheld pending family notification, NYPD said, and the driver remains at large.

Local residents told NY1 that speeding is rampant on the segment of Rockaway Parkway where Saturday’s crash occurred.

“If we were able to put a mid-block crosswalk and a light that split it right down the middle, tragedies like this wouldn’t happen because people would have an option to cross,” one area resident said.

“This intersection is never safe. It’s always somebody getting hit by a car. It’s always a child getting clipped by a car a vehicle. Everybody’s always speeding, not trying to stop at the lights. Everybody’s just in a rush,” another said.

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Motorist Fatally Strikes “Very Small” Pedestrian in Chinatown [Updated]

Canal Street, looking west, at Elizabeth Street, where a driver struck and killed a senior this morning. NYPD and a witness says the victim was crossing south to north (left to right) when the driver waiting at the light accelerated into her when the signal changed.  Image: Google Maps

Canal Street, looking west toward Elizabeth Street, where a driver struck a senior this morning. Image: Google Maps

Update: The victim was identified as Sau Ying Lee, 90. Though NYPD said Lee had the right of way, according to Lee’s son no charges were filed against the driver by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

NYPD has filed no charges against a driver who killed a senior in Chinatown this morning.

The victim, believed to be in her 70s, was crossing Canal Street at Elizabeth Street at approximately 4 a.m., when the motorist hit her with a Jeep SUV, according to NYPD and published reports. Based on media accounts and information provided by police, it appears the victim was crossing Canal south to north and was struck when the driver, westbound on Canal, accelerated when the signal changed.

From the Daily News:

“I didn’t see her, she was very small,” said the 64-year-old driver, who was heading west on Canal St. but immediately stopped the car after the collision.

The man, who did not give his name, was in shock when he realized what had happened. “My heart, it’s pounding.”

Armando Noreles, 43, was stopped at the red light in his delivery truck beside the Jeep moments before the SUV slammed into the woman.

“We were waiting at the red light. When the light changed he started driving, and he didn’t see the lady and he just hit the lady.”

NYPD has not released the victim’s identity, pending family notification. She died at New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. ”We saw her every day, every morning,” Norales told the Daily News. “She was so cute. Early in the morning, she tried to get money collecting cans.”

As of this morning, an NYPD spokesperson said there was “no criminality.” Police had no information on who had the right of way, and said the Collision Investigation Squad was still working the crash.

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Chin Calls for Safety Fixes After Driver Injures Three Women on South Street

South Street at Rutgers Slip, before a traffic signal and crosswalks were installed last year. Photo: Google Maps

Update: One of the pedestrians in this crash died from her injuries. She was identified by the Lo-Down as 82-year-old Shu Fan Huang.

A driver seriously injured three women in the crosswalk at South Street at Rutgers Slip in Manhattan yesterday, and one of the victims is facing life-threatening injuries. In response, Council Member Margaret Chin called on DOT to study pedestrian safety along this stretch of South Street, where many residents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side cross beneath the FDR Drive to access the East River Esplanade.

DOT says it is conducting a safety review of the intersection, where it installed a traffic light and crosswalks last year. Meanwhile, NYPD says the women were crossing against the signal and that it does not suspect “any criminality” by the driver.

Yesterday at around 6:50 a.m., the three women were in the crosswalk at Rutgers Slip when a 34-year-old woman driving a Volvo northbound on South Street struck them. Two of the victims, age 60 and 67, were seriously injured, while a third, whom NYPD said is in her 70s, sustained life-threatening injuries. All three were taken to Bellevue Hospital.

It’s not known if the driver was distracted when she struck the three women in the road. She is not facing any charges and did not receive a summons for any traffic violations. The Collision Investigation Squad is investigating. ”It appeared the driver had the light,” NYPD’s press office said today. “Nothing here to indicate any criminality.”

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Community-Based Bike Advocacy in Chinatown and the Lower East Side

Local Spokes is a coalition of nine organizations that joined up to engage low-income residents, people of color, immigrants, and young people in the Lower East Side and Chinatown to envision the future of bicycling in their communities. To understand the transportation needs of the neighborhoods, Local Spokes conducted an extensive survey in 2010 and 2011 and held a series of workshops in Chinese, English, and Spanish.

Last summer Local Spokes synthesized everything the coalition had gathered from this process into a neighborhood action plan for bicycling [PDF]. The goal of the action plan is to ensure that residents of the Lower East Side and Chinatown will have a role in decisions about bike-related policies and initiatives for their streets, and to create a model for community-based bike plans in other neighborhoods.

Streetfilms teamed up with Local Spokes in 2012 to document their work, and in this video you can see them in action.

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National Guard Says It Is Not Investigating Fatal Chinatown Crash

The National Guard says NYPD was leading the convoy involved in the November 6 crash that killed 82-year-old Kwok Fu, shown here parked on Centre Street. A witness told Streetsblog that he saw no escort, and there has been no mention of an escort in other published witness accounts. Photo: Ben Fried

Accounts of last week’s fatal crash in Chinatown do not match that of the National Guard, which insists a convoy was following an NYPD escort when the driver of one of the trucks struck an elderly man on Canal Street after reportedly running a red light. The National Guard is not conducting its own investigation into the crash, according to a spokesperson.

The convoy was on its way to the Javits Center to pick up Sandy relief supplies on the afternoon of November 6 when Kwok Fu, 82, was killed as he attempted to cross Canal at Centre Street. Witnesses said convoy truck drivers did not slow down and gave no warning before running a series of red lights on Canal.

National Guard spokesperson Eric Durr said the convoy was following a route set by NYPD, in keeping with protocol for moving troops through urban areas, though he did not know its point of origin. Protocol may vary depending on guidance from the convoy commander and local police, Durr said, but he indicated that it is normal for a convoy to disregard traffic signals, even on a relief mission in an American city.

“Generally a convoy tries to stay together, and that is why there’s a police escort. Stop and think: When the president is in town he has a police escort, right? Does he go through red lights?”

“We can’t just drive around on our own,” Durr said. “We have to coordinate with police. They’ll set up the routes. They send the police escorts. In this case I know there was a police escort, because the convoy commander said ‘I had a police escort.’”

Durr said he does not know how the crash occurred, but believes Fu was struck by the third truck in the 11-vehicle convoy. “The gentleman stepped out from the sidewalk and the driver unfortunately could not stop in time,” said Durr. “That is my understanding.”

The presence of a police escort has yet to be corroborated by witness or media reports. Nor is it clear why, if lights and sirens were blaring, the victim would have stepped into a procession of military trucks.

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Witnesses: National Guard Trucks Were Running Lights Prior to Fatal Crash

Kwok Fu, 82, was run down on Canal Street in broad daylight by the driver of a National Guard truck on Tuesday afternoon. A witness says truck drivers, who were traveling in a procession bound for Hell's Kitchen, did not slow down and gave no warning before running a series of red lights. Photo: Bowery Boogie

Witnesses say a convoy of National Guard trucks was blowing red lights on Canal Street Tuesday afternoon when one driver struck an elderly man, who died from his injuries. Accounts of the crash contradict statements from the National Guard that the victim ignored a police escort before walking into the path of the driver, who may have violated state traffic laws pertaining to military vehicles.

The victim was identified by NYPD as Kwok Fu, 82, of Woodhaven. Police and witnesses say Fu was crossing Canal at Centre Street from north to south when he was struck by the westbound truck, which according to the Times was part of a National Guard procession en route to the Javits Center to pick up Sandy relief supplies.

“Apparently, the gentleman stepped off into traffic,” National Guard spokesperson Eric Durr told the Times. Sam Gustin, a reporter for Time Magazine, spoke with a soldier who said, ”He just ran out in front of the truck. Nobody looks left or right before crossing the street here.”

But according to witnesses, the truck drivers were running lights. David Trimble saw the collision:

I was crossing Canal from south to north. The lights on Canal had turned red and the crosswalk light was illuminated. As I approached the middle of the street I looked to the right and noticed the convoy approaching. You can usually count on approaching traffic to stop at a red light. In an emergency situation you expect sirens and flashing lights to indicate the vehicle is not going to stop. Military trucks are not a normal sight in the city and therefore it took me a few critical moments to realize these vehicles were not following normal traffic rules.

I took a few steps into the east-to-west traffic lane before I understood that these trucks were not slowing down. It is hard to judge the speed of an approaching vehicle when looking straight at it. I instantly retreated back to the west-to-east traffic lane to let them pass. As the convoy passed the driver of the first truck made eye contact with me, tapped the horn and actually accelerated. Had I not retreated from the lane I would have been hit myself.

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Pedestrian Seriously Hurt By National Guard Truck Driver on Canal Street

Photo: Ben Fried

An unidentified man was struck by a National Guard truck driver at the intersection of Canal Street and Centre Street in Lower Manhattan at around 1:30 this afternoon. Witnesses seemed certain that the victim was killed, though an officer at the scene would only say that “a pedestrian got hit” and refused to provide further information.

Update: The victim, identified by DNAinfo as 82-year-old Kwok Fu of Flushing, has died of injuries sustained in the crash.

The truck, part of a convoy that had pulled over further north on Centre Street, was parked on Canal Street between Centre and Lafayette, with some of the victim’s belongings scattered in front of the cab. Witness Tim Coleman told Gothamist that the convoy had been heading west on Canal at the time of the crash. A member of the National Guard declined to discuss what the convoy was transporting.

According to FDNY, the victim was declared “likely to die,” which should trigger a police investigation, and transported to Bellevue Hospital. NYPD’s public information office could not confirm the status of the victim and had no further information at this time.

The convoy of National Guard trucks parked on Centre Street. Photo: Ben Fried

Brad Aaron contributed reporting to this post.