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Posts from the "Midtown" Category

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Will Cy Vance Fail to Prosecute Another Serious Midtown Curb-Jump Crash?

New Yorkers have seen this before.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance sees no evidence of recklessness here. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/FDNY/status/496750617613066240##@FDNY##

No evidence of recklessness here, says Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. Photo: @FDNY

On a beautiful summer day, a professional driver with a history of recklessness behind the wheel drives onto a crowded Midtown sidewalk, striking multiple people and causing serious injuries. The driver lays blame elsewhere, on factors he claims were beyond his control. Meanwhile, staff from Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office, who don’t normally discuss vehicular crimes with reporters, issue statements assuring the public that prosecutors are on the case.

It was one year ago this month that yellow cab driver Mohammad Faysal Himon severed the leg of tourist Sian Green. In November, Vance’s office announced that no charges would be filed.

On Tuesday afternoon, William Dalambert crashed a Gray Line double-decker bus into an SUV and another sightseeing bus at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, then jumped the curb and knocked over a light pole, injuring 18 people. Dalambert has anywhere from 11 to 20 license suspensions on his record, according to reports. He has been cited for speeding, using a cell phone while driving, and driving without a license. Video reportedly shows him accelerating before Tuesday’s crash, as the light in front of the bus turned red. Dalambert claimed the brakes on the bus failed, but investigators found no evidence of a mechanical problem.

Dalambert was arrested for driving while ability impaired, but further tests indicated no intoxication, and to this point Vance has filed no charges.

“[A]t this present stage of the investigation, there is not sufficient basis to conclude that the defendant was operating the tour bus in a reckless manner,” read a court notice filed by Vance’s office. Vance spokesperson Joan Vollero said the office is still investigating: “We are awaiting results of the full toxicology report. We are taking this matter seriously.”

Whether or not Dalambert was under the influence, that he drove into two vehicles, mounted the curb and injured multiple bystanders is not in dispute. Only through sheer luck did the people in his path escape death, and the severity of the victims’ injuries is not publicly known.

There is video of this crash, and, as with the Sian Green case, no shortage of witnesses. And yet — as with the Sian Green case — Vance has issued no charges for recklessness or criminal negligence.

Time will tell if DA Vance steps up in this instance to protect New Yorkers from dangerous drivers, or if the outcome of this serious crash will be déjà vu all over again.

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East River Greenway Links, Third Ave Bus Lane Upgrades Go Before CB 6

east_side_gway

Dotted blue lines show new shared lane markings, the dotted purple line indicates a new two-way bikeway, and the dotted green line shows improvements to the existing greenway route. Map: NYC DOT

From sudden collapses to botched repairs, the current condition of the East River Greenway is a far cry from the vision of a continuous path on Manhattan’s eastern shore. While filling in the greenway’s gaps could take at least a decade, there are some small, short-term gains on the table. On Monday, Community Board 6′s transportation committee backed a slate of bike improvement that aim to make accessing the greenway from Murray Hill a little bit easier.

The East River Greenway could get some upgrades in Murray Hill. Image: DOT

The East River Greenway could get some upgrades and better connections in Murray Hill. Image: DOT

The plan, first reported by DNAinfo, aims to improve access to Glick Park, a Citi Bike station on the greenway, and the 34th Street landing for the East River Ferry. After presenting the plan to the committee on May 5, DOT held a walk-through of the project with committee members on May 19.

The proposal [PDF] would improve the greenway surface and markings between 34th and 37th Streets, and add a short, two-way bikeway on the north side of 37th Street between the FDR Drive service road and First Avenue. It also adds shared lane markings on a pair of crosstown streets and converts one block of the First Avenue protected bike lane to a two-way path.

Southbound cyclists looking to avoid the chaotic Queens Midtown Tunnel entrance at Second Avenue and 37th Street would be able to turn right at 38th Street, which would have shared lane markings for one block until First Avenue. From there, they could turn right onto the two-way block of the First Avenue protected bike lane before making a left onto the new two-way path on 37th Street to connect to the greenway.

Read more…

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Post Wonders What Woman Did to Get Herself Run Over by Cab Driver

It's unclear if this cab driver was violating traffic laws when he ran over a pedestrian, but Post reporters do not appear to be paying attention.

It’s unclear if this cab driver was violating traffic laws when he ran over a pedestrian, but Post reporters do not appear to be paying attention.

It used to be that the tabloids would focus on any mistake by an injured or deceased pedestrian while ignoring what a motorist did, or didn’t do, to cause a crash. Now, in the absence of actual evidence that a pedestrian was in any way at fault, the Post has taken to spreading innuendo.

Yesterday afternoon a woman was run over by a cab driver in Midtown. Here’s what happened according to Post reporters Minsi Chung and Natasha Velez:

A puddle of blood next to a crosswalk on 6th Avenue marked the spot where the woman was struck as she crossed the wide avenue. A taxi turning left from W. 38th Street clipped the woman moments after she stepped off the sidewalk.

It was unclear if the pedestrian was jaywalking, but a witness said the woman did not appear to be paying attention as she crossed the busy street.

See what Chung and Velez did? They insinuated the victim was jaywalking through pure speculation. And for good measure added a vague but damning detail from an unnamed witness.

It may be unclear if the woman was “paying attention” before she was struck in a crosswalk on a city street teeming with pedestrian traffic. Since there is no rule against distracted walking, and the law puts the onus on drivers to avoid running people over, this is irrelevant.

But here’s what else is unclear: We don’t know if the cabbie who hit her violated her right of way, was driving at an appropriate speed, or using the cell phone he’s shown holding in the Post photo. And the reason it’s unclear is because the tabloids routinely fail to address motorist behavior in their zeal to blame the woman who ends up under the cab or bus.

Implying without cause that a fallen pedestrian might have been asking for it is not reporting. Post reporters and their editors should provide readers with fact-based traffic violence coverage and leave the gossip to Page Six.

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DOT Proposes Crosswalk Fix Where Renee Thompson Was Killed

In September, 16-year-old Renee Thompson was walking to the subway after getting off work just after 10 p.m., when, crossing Third Avenue at 60th Street, she was hit and killed by a turning truck driver. Now DOT is proposing shorter crossing distances at the intersection, but  Community Board 8′s transportation committee wants the agency to go further and also look at the dangers pedestrians face just one block away, where drivers jostle along Second Avenue to get on to the Queensboro Bridge.

The plan adds curb extensions to two corners at 60th Street and Third Aveune. Image: DOT

The plan adds curb extensions to two corners at 60th Street and Third Aveune. Image: DOT

The plan [PDF], which adds painted curb extensions and flex-post bollards to the northwest and southwest corners, would shorten crossing distances on Third Avenue from 65 feet to 53 feet, and on 60th Street from 35 feet to 25 feet. It also adds a left-turn lane on Third Avenee and lengthens the existing left-turn lane from 60th Street to Third Avenue, which is heavily used by trucks heading north after exiting the bridge. Both streets are mapped as truck routes.

Sidewalks at the intersection are crowded, and narrowed by enclosed sidewalk cafes, tree pits, and subway entrances on all four corners.

There were 12 pedestrian injuries at the intersection from 2007 to 2011, according to DOT, and in addition to Thompson’s death last September, there was another fatality at the intersection in 2010: Thomas Richards, 67, of Queens Village was in the crosswalk when he was killed by a cab driver who witnesses say was speeding.

A resolution supporting the curb extension at Third Avenue [PDF] passed the committee unanimously last Thursday and now heads to the full board, which is scheduled to meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Hunter College.

The resolution also asks DOT to come back within six months with a pedestrian safety plan for the area around the Queensboro Bridge at Second Avenue, an issue CB 8 transportation committee co-chair A. Scott Falk said DOT staff was receptive to.

“We’re very glad that they’re making a proposal for 60th and Third,” Falk told Streetsblog. ”It’s been one of my priorities for the board in 2014 to get real pedestrian improvements around the bridge.”

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CB 5 Votes Unanimously for DOT Study of Fifth and Sixth Avenue Redesign

Sixth Avenue in Midtown. Photo: Google Maps

After a unanimous vote by its transportation committee last month, Manhattan Community Board 5 voted unanimously last night for DOT to study a complete streets redesign of Fifth and Sixth Avenues to better accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders on two of the busiest avenues in Midtown.

The resolution asks NYPD “to more stringently enforce automobile and bicycle laws” while also requesting a study from DOT “of the merits and feasibility of re-designs of Fifth and Sixth Avenues.” The resolution was amended at last night’s meeting to ask DOT to take the needs of food cart vendors into account with any design it may propose.

Ilona Kramer, chief of staff to Council Member Dan Garodnick, told the board last night that due to redistricting, starting next year Garodnick will represent a large portion of CB 5. Kramer said Garodnick, who has expressed support for a safety study of Fifth and Sixth Avenues, was aware that the board had a resolution about the issue on its agenda last night.

Transportation Alternatives volunteers had collected 10,000 petition signatures and 1,500 handwritten letters, which were delivered to the board last night. “Ten thousand signatures is not insignificant,” said Raju Mann, CB 5′s transportation committee chair, who spoke in favor of the resolution.

In addition, 59 businesses have signed on in support of a complete street redesign. Volunteer Janet Liff said the owner of a Jamba Juice told her: ”Complete streets? Pedestrians love those. And whatever’s good for pedestrians is good for business.”

Eight people spoke in favor of the resolution, and only one, who called for a ban on bicycles on Fifth Avenue at last month’s committee meeting, spoke against it. Attorney Steve Vaccaro, who attended last night’s meeting, praised CB 5′s “no drama, no hate” approach to the issue, which stands in stark contrast with some other community board meetings on street redesign requests.

A redesign of Fifth and Sixth Avenues would also include portions of Community Boards 2 and 4, which are likely to take up the issue in the new year.

Thanks to Steve Vaccaro and Albert Ahronheim for notes from last night’s meeting.

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CB 5 Closes in on Requesting Complete Streets Study for 5th and 6th Avenues

Fifth Avenue at 48th Street: Lots of space for cars; bike riders and walkers on the margins. Photo: Google Maps

Fifth Avenue at 48th Street: Lots of space for cars, with people walking and biking on the margins. Photo: Google Maps

The campaign for a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly design on crowded Fifth and Sixth Avenues has crossed its first major milestone, with Community Board 5′s transportation committee advancing a resolution asking DOT for a complete streets study.

The resolution, which passed the committee last Monday in a unanimous vote, is set to be taken up by the full board on December 12. “It’s just acknowledging that there’s a problem and that they need to be studied,” said Transportation Alternatives volunteer Janet Liff. “The proposal is really to take a look at the concept of a complete street, which includes pedestrian space, bulb outs, bike lanes, and express bus service.”

TA’s campaign for to make Fifth and Sixth Avenues safer is “emphasizing that pedestrians do come first,” Liff said. Committee chair Raju Mann also told Streetsblog that discussion of the resolution last month focused primarily on pedestrians.

Even with scarce accommodations for bicycling, Fifth and Sixth Avenues continue to rank among the busiest Manhattan avenues for cyclists. Over an 18-hour period in September 2012, DOT counted more than 5,000 people biking on the pair of avenues, exceeding every other northbound/southbound pair in Manhattan, though Eighth and Ninth Avenues, which have protected bike lanes, sometimes do see more bicycle traffic [PDF].

When activist group Right of Way painted guerrilla bike lanes on Sixth Avenue in September, DOT spokesperson Seth Solomonow said the agency would consider street design requests from the local community board. Monday’s vote puts CB 5 closer to making that request happen.

Short stretches of Fifth and Sixth Avenue are also part of Community Boards 2 and 4. Caroline Samponaro, TA’s senior director of campaigns and organizing, said approaching those boards would be a “next step” after securing support from CB 5. In addition to a coalition letter signed by block associations, commercial landlords, and small businesses, TA’s online petition for the complete streets study has garnered more than 10,000 signatures. “People are aware that on just two avenues in each direction there are these improvements,” she said. “They’re asking: ‘What about us?’”

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No Charges From Cy Vance for Cab Driver Who Maimed Tourist Sian Green

The cab driver who hit a cyclist and drove onto a Midtown sidewalk, severing the leg of British tourist Sian Green, will not be charged with a crime by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

By declining to test state traffic laws in court, prosecutors ensure that victims like Sian Green will continue to be denied justice. Photo: ##http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/tourist-lost-foot-taxi-cash-returns-england-article-1.1473524##Daily News##

By declining to test state traffic laws in court, prosecutors ensure that victims like Sian Green will continue to be denied justice, while reckless drivers remain free to endanger lives with impunity. Photo: Daily News

Here is a statement from Joan Vollero, Vance’s deputy communications director, released to the media today:

“Following a thorough, two-month-long investigation by the District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD, we have concluded that criminal charges cannot be filed in this case. In making this determination, prosecutors who are specially trained in vehicular crimes reviewed all available evidence and took into consideration relevant sections of the State’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws. They conducted interviews with multiple eyewitnesses, the taxi driver, the bicyclist, and injured parties, reviewed all available video surveillance, listened to numerous 911 calls, and retrieved the taxi’s ‘black box’ data. We are sensitive to the trauma faced by Ms. Green and others injured in vehicular crashes, and notified the attorneys and representatives for all parties last week of this decision.”

The August 20 crash attracted international attention, and Vance’s office and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly announced investigations, which is never a given following a serious traffic collision in NYC. Cab driver Mohammad Faysal Himon pleaded guilty to a suspension summons and surrendered his hack license on August 23, but reclaimed it a month later.

According to published reports, Himon has a history or reckless driving, with three moving violations in 2011, including citations for running a red light and doing 65 mph in a 45 mph zone, resulting in nine points on his license. He was also involved in another crash that resulted in injury, reports said.

After reportedly arguing with a bike messenger, Himon drove a quarter of a block on a Midtown sidewalk with the cyclist on the hood before slamming into Green. He confessed to the media that he intentionally stepped on the gas before mounting the curb.

“The Green Family is shocked by this news, and disappointed,” said Green’s attorney Dan Marchese, in a statement. Marchese said a Vance assistant DA “indicated that failure to charge was due to lack of evidence regarding the taxi cab driver’s intent during the investigation phase.”

There is no doubt that New York State laws can make it difficult to convict drivers on charges of deadly recklessness. But by declining to prosecute even the most brazen acts of vehicular violence, and failing to mount a concerted campaign to reform traffic code, district attorneys are ensuring that victims will continue to be denied justice. And in this case it also means a dangerous driver remains on the streets.

Said attorney Steve Vaccaro, who represents victims of traffic violence, via email:

I am stunned by the decision not to prosecute for lack of evidence of intent. To prosecute the driver for recklessness or criminal negligence, it is not required for the driver to have intended harm. All that is required is that the driver be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have behaved with respect to the risk of striking or injuring others in a manner that constituted a gross deviation from what was reasonable. The driver’s own public statements would seem to be enough. This outcome tells me we need new laws, and perhaps also new district attorneys.

We will have more on this case in the coming days.

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Discussion of Complete Streets for Fifth and Sixth Avenues Advances at CB 5

Sixth Avenue in Midtown: six lanes for motor vehicles, with pedestrians and cyclists squeezed into the margins. Photo: Google Maps

The sidewalks of Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Midtown are packed — sometimes overflowing — and the streets see some of the highest bike volumes in the city. While this should be one of the world’s premier walking districts, both avenues are designed primarily to move motor vehicles, and injury and fatality rates are high. Since last summer, Transportation Alternatives has led a campaign to improve conditions for walking and biking on Fifth and Sixth.

At the monthly meeting of the Manhattan Community Board 5 transportation committee this Monday, safety enhancements for these two avenues were on the agenda. TA organizer Miller Nuttle sends in this recap:

Community Board 5′s transportation committee discussed the merits of two potential resolutions: One calling on NYPD to step up enforcement of driving and bicycling infractions in their district, and one asking the DOT to study the feasibility of installing “Complete Street” improvements on Fifth and Sixth avenues.

There was near unanimous support among board members for a study of these two avenues, and the committee plans to vote on the resolution at their next meeting. Inspired by a similar proposal put forward by CB 5 two years ago, T.A. has worked with neighborhood residents to collect 10,093 petitions and 1,599 hand-written letters calling for street safety improvements on these avenues. Last night, those residents delivered those petitions to the board to demonstrate the widespread demand for safer, more efficient Fifth and Sixth avenues.
The next CB 5 transportation committee meeting is scheduled for November 25.
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Cabbie Blames Cyclist He Hit and Bike Lanes for Midtown Curb-Jump Crash

The Post is doing its best to assign partial blame to the cyclist who was struck by cab driver Mohammed Himon in Tuesday morning’s crash on Sixth Avenue, but the paper got Himon to confess that he intentionally stepped on the gas before mounting the curb and hitting Sian Green, the 23-year-old tourist who lost part of her leg.

Cab driver Mohammed Himon blamed a cyclist and bike infrastructure for Tuesday's crash, but a protected bike lane might have kept him from driving on the sidewalk and maiming a bystander. Photo: Post

Himon has a history of reckless driving, according to multiple reports, including another crash that resulted in injury. During an interview in which he said he needs to find a different job, Himon described the crash:

Himon, a native of Bangladesh who has been in the United States for nearly five years, admitted he flew into a fit of road rage when he and bike messenger Kenneth Olivo crossed paths.

“He was in my way and I got upset, so I gave him notice that I wanted to pass through,” he said, meaning he leaned on his horn.

“He started pounding on my car with his hands and was yelling things at me. I suddenly felt like I had to get out of there. It was becoming a bad situation. So I accelerated to get in front of him.”

Himon’s narrative, which the Post does not question, is that after laying on the horn, he became afraid of the cyclist and attempted to get away.

“I personally feel that if that man on the bike didn’t bang on my car, maybe this would not have happened,” Himon said. “I didn’t yell at him. I had my windows up and my A/C on. I could barely hear what he was saying.

“I thought to myself, ‘This guy isn’t any good. I need to speed up to get away from him.’ I accelerated, and the rest is hard to remember.”

So according to Himon, he was so frightened by a cyclist in front of his cab, whom he could barely hear, that he hit the accelerator. As a result of that decision, he rammed the cyclist and continued driving onto the sidewalk, permanently maiming Green.

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TLC Seeking 30-Day Hack License Suspension After Midtown Curb-Jump Crash

The Taxi and Limousine Commission is moving to suspend the hack license of the cab driver involved in Tuesday’s curb-jump crash in Midtown, which would keep him off the job for 30 days. Meanwhile, the Post reports that NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly says police are investigating the crash.

The cabbie was identified in the press as Faysal Kabir Mohammad Himon, 24, of Queens. On Tuesday morning Himon rammed a cyclist with his cab at Sixth Avenue and 49th Street, then drove on the sidewalk with the cyclist on the hood before striking tourist Sian Green, according to multiple accounts. FDNY said two victims were transported from the scene.

“The impact severed Green’s left foot and shattered her right leg,” writes the Post. “Doctors had to amputate the left leg below the knee, but were able to save her right leg.”

The Daily News and the Post reported that Himon has a history of reckless driving, with three moving violations in 2011, including citations for running a red light and doing 65 mph in a 45 mph zone, resulting in nine points on his license. The Post says in 2010 Himon was involved in another crash that resulted in injury.

“He’ll receive a summons and his due process rights will allow him the opportunity to have a hearing on it with an administrative law judge,” a TLC spokesperson said. If the TLC action is successful, Himon would receive a 30-day “punitive suspension,” the spokesperson said.

After a cab driver killed a senior in the West Village last year, the TLC told Streetsblog that unless a cabbie faces criminal charges, or a consumer files a complaint, the agency has no lawful basis for action against a driver who harms a pedestrian.

The Daily News reported that Himon was issued a summons for “unauthorized use,” which the paper described as “an administrative violation for not submitting a form notifying the Taxi and Limousine Commission that he would be driving that particular cab.” The office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is investigating the crash, as is NYPD, according to Kelly.

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