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Advocates Call for Safer Streets, Better Transit Along All of Richmond Terrace

Advocates in Staten Island want safer infrastructure and better transit along the western portion of Richmond Terrace, pictured here at the intersection with Simonson Avenue where a drunk off-duty NYPD officer killed a pedestrian in 2013. Photo: Google Maps

A drunk off-duty NYPD officer killed a pedestrian on Richmond Terrace at the intersection with Simonson Avenue in 2013. Photo: Google Maps

As development transforms the eastern neighborhoods along Staten Island’s North Shore, advocates want to ensure the city doesn’t overlook the transit and street safety needs of the western neighborhoods.

In November, the de Blasio administration launched a multi-agency effort to study transportation and traffic safety on the North Shore, but so far the project has been limited to areas east of Port Richmond Avenue, which tend to be more affluent than the neighborhoods to the west. Now Transportation Alternatives, the Elm Park Civic Association, Island Voice, and Do Me A Faber are calling on the city to expand the project.

Richmond Terrace stretches the length of the North Shore, but the city’s study does not touch on the western 2.7 miles. The western part of the street is a “speedway,” TA says, where more than 30 percent of motorists exceed the speed limit [PDF]. Since 2010, drivers have killed three pedestrians on this section of Richmond Terrace.

Transportation Alternatives says that the lower-income, transit-poor residents of "western Richmond Terrace" are being excluded from the city's efforts to make North Shore streets safer and more efficient for bikes and transit. Image: TransAlt

The residents of western Richmond Terrace tend to be poorer and ride transit more than residents to the east. Image: TransAlt

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Driver Kills Maria Serrano, 50, as Victim Walked Her Dog in SI Crosswalk

A driver killed Maria Serrano at Richmond Road and Amboy Road in Staten Island. The white arrow indicates the path of the victim, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

A driver killed Maria Serrano at Richmond Road and Amboy Road in Staten Island. The white arrow indicates the path of the victim, and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver. Image: Google Maps

A Staten Island motorist killed a woman who was out walking her dog Saturday. The victim was the sixth person killed by a driver while walking or biking in the 122nd Precinct in the last 13 months.

Maria Serrano, 50, was crossing Richmond Road at Amboy Road, in the crosswalk, at around 6:49 a.m. when Luigi Tucci hit her with a Toyota pickup truck while turning left on Richmond, according to reports from the Staten Island Advance and Gothamist.

A witness told the Advance the victim was “catapulted into the air” upon impact. A photo of the scene shows the pickup stopped in the crosswalk and a pool of blood on the street several yards in front of it.

Serrano sustained injuries to her head and body. She died Sunday morning at Staten Island University Hospital in Ocean Breeze, the Advance reported.

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Drivers Have Killed Seven People on Hylan Boulevard in 12 Months [Updated]

Update: The victim in this crash was identified as Mary Cerqua. The driver, Deborah Pecoraro, blamed Cerqua for the collision, but video footage led police to charge Pecoraro with a Right of Way Law violation, according to the Daily News. NY1 posted video of the crash.

A motorist struck and killed a senior in a crosswalk on Hylan Boulevard this morning.

The crash happened at 9:24 a.m. The 73-year-old victim was crossing Hylan east to west when she was hit by the driver of a Nissan SUV, who was turning left onto the boulevard from Wiman Avenue, the Staten Island Advance reported.

The victim sustained head trauma and was pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital, according to the Advance. Police had not released her name as of early this afternoon, pending family notification. The driver was identified only as a 55-year-old woman.

A police spokesperson could not confirm who had the right of way, but told Streetsblog “the motorist was taken in for questioning.” The NYPD public information office had no further details about the investigation.

Drivers have killed at least seven people walking or biking on Hylan Boulevard in the last 12 months, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. City data show 17 people were injured in crashes at Hylan and Wiman since 2010.

Data compiled by the state indicate the number of crashes in Staten Island dropped last year, but traffic fatalities almost doubled compared to 2014. A 2015 DOT report found that while the number of pedestrians killed by motorists citywide declined sharply since the 1980s, Staten Island showed no downward trend.

Meanwhile, Staten Island electeds are far more inclined to pander to motorists — even those who break traffic laws — than take action to make streets safer.

This morning’s fatal crash occurred in the 122nd Precinct, where officers issued just 200 failure to yield summonses in 2015, and in the City Council district represented by Joe Borelli.

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Three Hack-tastic Ideas to Fix Staten Island’s Broken Bus System

For all intents and purposes, Staten Island’s bus network is broken. Which isn’t surprising when you consider that the borough’s 31 local routes have barely changed in the last half-century. For the most part, ancient bus lines that pre-date the Verrazano Bridge (which opened in 1964) don’t go where people actually need to get around.

manhattan_stops

In Manhattan, Staten Island express bus stops can be consolidated around areas where many passengers board or alight (the darker spots), saving a lot of time. Image: Sri Kanajan

Then there are the express bus routes that take Staten Island commuters to and from Manhattan. These are some of the city’s slowest and least reliable express buses, plagued by traffic jams and stops that are spaced too close together.

At the request of Borough President James Oddo, last summer the MTA announced a full-network study of all 51 bus lines serving Staten Island.

As part of the effort, Oddo and the MTA co-sponsored a “Bus Hackathon” with TransitCenter and NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation on Saturday. They invited teams of software developers and tech-savvy urbanists to use MTA ridership data to diagnose problems and propose solutions for the borough’s bus system. The 150 participants cranked out 15 proposals for improving bus service, from which a panel of judges selected three winners.

TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt said the hack-a-thon was a way to “get a fresh set of eyes” on the problems plaguing buses serving not just Staten Island but all of New York City. Bus ridership has continued to decline in recent years even as subway ridership climbs to historic highs.

“A lot of things are the way they are because no one’s taken a look at them in a long time,” Orcutt said. “This isn’t rocket science, but someone has to look at it.”

Here’s a look at some of the most enlightening analysis from the hack-a-thon — you’ll notice a lot of overlapping ideas. (TransitCenter also posted a summary today.)

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Two More Killed on Hylan Boulevard — Who Will Act to Stop the Carnage?

Update: Mayor de Blasio tweeted that he has instructed NYPD to increase enforcement on Hylan Boulevard and has directed DOT to “pursue safety fixes.” We’ve asked the mayor’s office for details.

Motorists killed two people last night in separate crashes on Hylan Boulevard — the third and fourth fatalities on the street this year.

Steven Turetsky was crossing Hylan at Bay Street at around 7:30 p.m. when a driver hit him with a Honda compact, reports said.

Shannon Lies had two young daughters and was expecting a son when a driver killed her just after she left a shift at one of her two jobs. Photo via Staten Island Advance

Shannon Lies had two young daughters and was expecting a son when a driver killed her just after she left a shift at one of her two jobs. Photo via Staten Island Advance

From the Advance:

The 73-year-old driver was traveling southbound on Bay Street in the left lane, police said. He approached the intersection at Hylan Boulevard at the same time Turetsky was crossing Bay Street, from west to east, outside the crosswalk, according to police.

As the vehicle approached the intersection, Turetsky walked out into the path of the car and was struck by the front bumper, police said.

Witness and co-worker Tony Thomas told the Advance Turetsky “flew in the air” upon impact, an indication that the driver was traveling at a high speed. “I was standing on the other side of the street … and before I could tell him to look out … the car hit him,” Thomas said.

Turetsky, 61, died at Staten Island University Hospital, according to the Daily News.

At approximately 11 p.m., a 54-year-old woman driving a Mercury sedan hit 31-year-old Shannon Lies as she crossed Hylan Boulevard at Arden Avenue. Reports said Lies, who had two small children and was six months pregnant, was struck after leaving work at a nearby restaurant.

The Advance reports:

She was killed outside the diner when a sedan slammed into her as she was crossing Hylan Boulevard to get to a bus stop, according to police. The driver, a 54-year-old woman, struck Lies as she approached the intersection of Arden Avenue, police said.

“She walked out, said goodbye to me and walked across the street to catch a bus … and got hit,” Salvatore said, noting he had worked with the victim for about two years. “She was a very nice person,” he added.

A co-worker told the Daily News Lies had two jobs and “always came in early to try to make extra money for her kids.”

Police filed no charges and issued no summonses in either crash. The NYPD public information office had no details on driver speeds and withheld their names. Police said the driver who killed Turetsky was not intoxicated.

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NYPD: No Charges for Driver Whose Boat Trailer Detached, Killing Cyclist

NYPD has filed no charges against a driver whose boat trailer came unhitched and struck two people riding bikes in Staten Island yesterday, killing one of the victims.

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via SI Advance

Alexa Cioffi. Photo via Staten Island Advance

Alexa Cioffi, 21, and another woman were riding northbound on Hylan Boulevard at Redgrave Avenue at around 5:18 p.m. when a northbound driver towing a boat with a truck attempted to pass the cyclists on the left, according to the Staten Island Advance.

As the SUV switched lanes, its trailer became detached and continued to travel north into the right lane, striking the 22-year-old cyclist. The boat was propelled north, hitting Cioffi who became pinned under the vehicle as it stopped.

“They were both hit — thud, thud,” a witness told the Daily News. “One woman was under the boat. The other woman was lying facedown by the light pole.”

Cioffi was pronounced dead at Staten Island University Hospital, the Advance reported. The second victim was hospitalized in critical condition.

If the crash occurred as reported, Cioffi and the other woman were cycling with the right of way when they were hit. But anonymous NYPD sources blamed the victims for their injuries while exculpating the unnamed driver, telling the Post the cyclists were not wearing helmets — which is legal — and that “police did not believe there was any immediate signs [sic] of criminality.”

Meanwhile, the Daily News cited unnamed NYPD sources who indicated that the trailer was not properly attached to the truck.

Sources close to the investigation said the hitch had been modified in some way.

“It came unhitched from the trailer, it wasn’t properly secured,” a police source said.

Streetsblog reader Joe Enoch is a reporter and is currently producing a national story for “Inside Edition” about the hazards of improperly attached trailers. “Unhitched trailers are more common than you think and very often deadly,” Enoch told us via email. Based on a crash scene photo published by the Daily News, Enoch said: “It’s likely the driver did not have either of the two required safety chains. You cross the two chains so that in the unlikely event the trailer comes loose, they safely cradle the hitch. That said, there’s also a good chance that the trailer did not have a proper pin to keep the latch from popping off.”

NYPD had issued no charges or summonses as of this morning. A police spokesperson said the investigation is “ongoing,” which usually means the Collision Investigation Squad hasn’t filed a complete report.

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Bike Racks Debut on Buses Across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

New Yorkers are finally getting to try out a multi-modal transportation option that’s old hat to residents of other major American cities — bike racks on buses. Sunday marked the debut of front-mounted bike racks on the S53 and S93 buses across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

One of the first bikes to cross the Verrazano Narrows by bus. Photo: Meredith Sladek

One of the first bikes to cross the Verrazano-Narrows by bus. Photo: Meredith Sladek

The MTA purchased 38 bike racks at a cost of $42,000 and installed them on 31 buses as part of a one-year pilot program. The agency will evaluate three different models: Byk-Rak 2 Position, Sportworks Veloporter 2, and Sportworks DL2. If successful, the MTA may expand the program, starting with other bus routes across bridges.

The racks have carried bikes on 12 trips so far, including two this morning, the MTA said.

Streetsblog reader Meredith Sladek used the racks on a Sunday trip to Bay Ridge from Staten Island. It was a cinch, even for a newbie, she says.

“I have never used a bus rack before — hard to believe but true — and it took me about five seconds, tops. The instructions were printed on the rack itself,” she wrote in an email. “The drivers were great ambassadors: Both were really genial, helpful, patient, and informative.”

The MTA has also released an instructional video on how to use the racks. Sadly, it does not feature lyrics by Mr. Theo — but Stephen Colbert’s smiling face does make an appearance.

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James Oddo Calls for Wider Roads Hours After SI Traffic Violence Claims Life

A UPS worker who lost a leg when a Staten Island driver slammed into him in April has died. NYPD and Staten Island prosecutors issued no summonses and filed no criminal charges in the case.

Tom Ryan. Photo via SI Advance

Tom Ryan. Photo via SI Advance

Tom Ryan, 52, was unloading packages from his truck at 2044 Hylan Boulevard on the morning of April 6 when a driver hit him with a Toyota sedan, according to the Staten Island Advance. NYPD told the Advance the driver was in the left, northbound lane and “tried to avoid hitting a pedestrian who crossed in front of his vehicle.”

The driver lost control of his vehicle and it swerved into the right lane, striking and pinning Ryan against the back of the UPS truck, police said.

Ryan, of Bayonne, died this week, the Advance reported.

The impact from the crash severed one of his legs, causing him to bleed profusely and go into cardiac arrest. He slipped into a coma due to the loss of oxygen to his brain, and never regained consciousness, his wife [Elise Ryan] said.

“He had an anoxic brain injury — that was more of his injury than even the leg,” the grieving wife explained.

The driver who killed Ryan was not identified. Despite indications that driver speed contributed to the crash — and was likely the difference between whether Ryan lived or died — no charges were filed by police, former district attorney Dan Donovan, or acting DA Daniel Master Jr., who took office in May, after Donovan was elected to Congress.

The crash that killed Tom Ryan occurred in the 122nd Precinct — where as of July local officers had ticketed 1,180 drivers for speeding in 2015 — and in the City Council district represented by Steve Matteo.

According to DOT, while overall NYC pedestrian deaths have dropped by nearly 50 percent in the last 30 years, the number of people killed by drivers while walking in Staten Island has not declined. But making streets safer is not a priority for Staten Island electeds.

Matteo has one of the worst records in the council on safe streets legislation. He was one of four council members, along with former Staten Island rep Vincent Ignizio, to vote against lowering the city speed limit. Matteo has said he believes speed cameras are a revenue scam.

When he was on the council, Matteo’s predecessor James Oddo, who is now borough president, called for requiring an environmental review for new bike lanes. Hours after news broke of Tom Ryan’s death, Oddo took to Twitter to brag about upcoming road widenings and call for more such projects on Staten Island.

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MTA: Bike Racks Are Coming to Buses Over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

As of September 6, New York will no longer be the only major American city without bike racks on its buses. The MTA announced this afternoon that it is launching a one-year pilot of front-mounted bike racks on the S53 and S93 routes, which run across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

“Before this program, our customers had no direct way to travel with their bicycles on public transportation between Brooklyn and Staten Island. Now customers can take advantage of the city’s bike lanes and greenways without worrying about how to transport their bicycles,” Darryl C. Irick, Senior Vice President of Buses at MTA New York City Transit, said in a press release. “A future expansion will depend on results of this pilot and will most likely focus on routes that cross bridges.”

Adding bike racks on buses has been a goal of advocates who view it as a stepping stone to building a bicycle and pedestrian path on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Update 9:55 p.m.: “We are certain Bike & Ride will be a success, just as similar programs have been in cities all over the country that have long had bike racks as standard equipment across their vehicular fleets,” said the Harbor Ring, a coalition of path advocates, in a statement. “However, one bus carrying two bicycles is by no means a solution for our city’s overwhelming transportation deficiencies. We continue our campaign urging the MTA to create separated bicycle and pedestrian pathways across the Verrazano Bridge that would offer toll-free connectivity between Brooklyn and Staten Island.”

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CB 7 Committee Asks DOT for Amsterdam Protected Bike Lane “Immediately”

On Tuesday, the Manhattan Community Board 7 transportation committee unanimously passed a resolution asking DOT to immediately install a protected bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue in the neighborhood.

Will DOT finally tame this street? Photo: Daniel/Flickr

Will DOT finally tame this street? Photo: Daniel/Flickr

DOT has built out a southbound protected bike lane on Columbus Avenue from 110th Street almost to Columbus Circle over the past five years, but the city has not created a parallel route for people biking uptown. With Citi Bike on track to arrive on the Upper West Side this summer, time is running out to build a safe northbound bike route in the neighborhood before a new wave of cyclists hit the streets.

The latest request for a northbound protected bike lane comes more than a year and a half after the board unanimously asked DOT to redesign Amsterdam Avenue. Elected officials and the community board are asking DOT to stop delaying. In April, Council Member Helen Rosenthal called on DOT to install a protected bike lane on Amsterdam.

“CB 7 called for immediate implementation of a northbound protected bike lane,” said committee member Howard Yaruss. The resolution now goes to the CB 7 full board on July 7.

Asked if it is going to come out with a proposal, DOT again told Streetsblog that it is reviewing possible safety enhancements on Amsterdam.

Tuesday’s meeting was marked by hemming and hawing from some board members, including transportation committee co-chairs Andrew Albert and Dan Zweig. The issue of bike lanes didn’t even come up until about two hours into the meeting.

“I was honestly worried that we weren’t ever going to get to talk about street safety,” said Upper West Side resident Willow Stelzer. “The goal was to sideline and delay.”

“At every turn, at every mention of this, the chairs seemed to brush it aside,” said Upper West Side resident Finn Vigeland. “It just seemed like the chairs were not receptive to this issue.”

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