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Posts from the "Gramercy" Category

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Eyes on the Street: Driver Careens Onto Kips Bay Sidewalk, Smashes Store

The remains of a crash scene at 2nd Avenue and 23rd Street after a vehicle was removed from the sidewalk by FDNY. Photo: ddartley/Flickr

Yesterday at approximately 6:00 p.m., the driver of a silver Volkswagen involved in a two-car crash barreled onto the sidewalk at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and 23rd Street, crashing into the front door of a Duane Reade pharmacy. FDNY tells Streetsblog that two people were transported to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. Witnesses report that the injured were vehicle occupants, not pedestrians.

Video from Streetsblog reader ddartley shows another driver leaving the scene in a dented silver Infiniti SUV after speaking with police. Streetsblog has asked NYPD for more information about the crash; we’ll let you know if we get an update. More images of the scene are available from photographer Ethan Kavet.

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Details Scarce on First Reported Pedestrian and Cyclist Deaths of 2013

We have updates on the year’s first reported pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, which occurred in Manhattan and the Bronx on January 4 and 5.

The speeding driver responsible for the first reported pedestrian fatality of 2013 was not charged for taking a life. Photo: Daily News

NYPD was not ready to release the identity of either victim as of Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, it remains unclear what caused last Friday’s collision between a cyclist and a private sanitation hauler on E. 23rd Street near Madison Avenue.

Though the Post made sure to point out that the victim was not wearing a helmet, as if a styrofoam shell strapped to her head might have offered a significant measure of protection against a multi-ton truck, media accounts were short on basic details, such as whether she was sideswiped or struck from behind. If past patterns hold, it will take a successful freedom of information request, a rarity when attempting to obtain public records from NYPD, to determine what happened.

“NYPD’s information blackout underscores the need for legislation to demand a cadre of trained crash investigators at each precinct,” says Charles Komanoff, referring to one facet of the Crash Investigation Reform Act, now in limbo in the City Council.

Komanoff produced the 1999 report “Killed by Automobile” [PDF], which found that private dump trucks kill more city pedestrians than any other type of vehicle.

Also needed, says Komanoff:

  • Public reporting of all available info within a tight time window — “say, 48 hours” — with the possible exception of the driver’s identity, which could be released later;
  • AIS or AIS-level analysis available within two weeks;
  • an annual compilation of all traffic fatalities, including proximate-cause coding and assignment of culpability.

“Obviously, current ‘practice’ is a million miles away from this,” Komanoff says. “It continues to embody the mindset that traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities are acts of God and are impervious to analysis and prevention.”

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Private Dump Truck Driver Kills Woman at 23rd and Madison

Photo: sabredutch via Gothamist

Gothamist reports that a private dump truck driver ran over and killed a woman this afternoon in Manhattan:

A woman was fatally struck by a private sanitation truck in the Flatiron district in Manhattan today. According to police, the incident happened around 12:26 p.m. at East 23rd Street and Madison Avenue. An NYPD spokesperson confirmed the woman was pronounced dead at the scene, but had little other information. Based on photos, it appears she was hit by a CityWide demolition and rubbish removal vehicle.

Update: According to the Post, the victim was biking east on 23rd when she was struck by the dump truck driver, who was “pulling out into traffic.”

Two things to keep in mind while we look into this fatal crash:

  • Private dump trucks have the highest pedestrian kill rate of any type of vehicle on NYC streets, according to the 1999 report “Killed by Automobile” produced by analyst Charles Komanoff [PDF]. Maybe someone with power and authority, like City Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca, should look into that and help to prevent more bloodshed.
  • There’s a law on the books requiring large trucks to be equipped with safety mirrors that let drivers see blind spots in front of the cab. However, the law also has some huge loopholes, including an exemption for vehicles registered out-of-state. CityWide Demolition is headquartered in Brooklyn. Among other aspects of the crash, Streetsblog will be looking into whether this truck was equipped with the special mirrors.

This fatal crash occurred in the 13th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to NYPD Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 13th Precinct community council meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 230 East 21st Street, at 6:30 p.m. Call (212) 477-7411 for information.

The City Council district where the victim was killed is represented by Rosie Mendez. To encourage Mendez to take action to improve street safety in her district and citywide, contact her at (212) 677-1077.

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In Mistake-Marred Letter, CB 6 Lends Voice to East Side Bike-Share NIMBYs

Community Board 6 is concerned about a bike-share station at 18th and Irving Place that DOT already eliminated from consideration. Image: NYC DOT

Where can bike-share stations be located, according to the East Side’s not-in-my-backyard crowd? Not Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, which is both too serene for bikes and too crowded with protestors. Not around the corner from the Israeli consulate, which is too fat a target for terrorists who, as Marcia Kramer could tell you, prefer to deliver explosives via bike. Not in areas that are too residential. Nor in areas with store entrances or medical offices. And if that leaves anywhere — the sidewalk under a 42nd Street overpass was recommended as a model location — no station should have more than ten docks.

Each of those objections was raised in a document sent by Manhattan Community Board 6 to the Department of Transportation last week, cataloguing 14 locations that the board had received complaints about. A letter drafted by transportation committee chair Fred Arcaro and signed by board chair Mark Thompson endorsed some of the residents’ complaints — even one about a non-existent station proposal — and enclosed the rest without comment while requesting a formal DOT response to each one. While the letter notes that the CB received many comments supporting bike-share, none of those are included.

In January, CB 6 voted 39 to 2 in support of the broader bike-share program, and overall the board has tended to take positions in favor of projects like the redesign of First and Second Avenues. But as transportation committee chair, Arcaro has repeatedly stood in the way of livable streets improvements in the district, and his letter adds the community board’s imprimatur to some truly baseless complaints.

The shoddiness of this anti-bike NIMBYism is perhaps best illustrated by one of the three stations singled out in Arcaro and Thompson’s letter. They complain of a station in front of the service entrance of 130 East 18th Street, a residential building on the corner of Irving Place. That location, however, wasn’t selected by the Department of Transportation for a bike-share station.

As DOT reps explained at a CB 6 meeting I attended in May, the station had only ever been included as an option on the maps DOT used to gauge community preferences for station locations, which included five times more options than would ultimately be selected. Once the residents said they didn’t want a station there, it was taken off the list.

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