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Posts from the Upper East Side Category


Drivers Have Killed Seven People in Bike-Obsessed 19th Precinct in 2016


19th Precinct CO Deputy Inspector Clint McPherson and City Council Member Ben Kallos

Blanca Pagan, the senior who was struck last Friday by a driver who failed to yield, was at least the seventh pedestrian killed by a motorist this year in the 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side. Deputy Inspector Clint McPherson, the precinct’s commanding officer, has prioritized ticketing people on bikes, with encouragement from local City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick.

Pagan, 73, was in the crosswalk at York Avenue and E. 89th Street at around 3 p.m. when Pjerin Gjerji hit her with a Chevrolet van while turning right from York onto 89th, NYPD told Gothamist. Police charged Gjerji, 48, with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

Pagan, who lived nearby, was a retired nurse who came to NYC from Puerto Rico when she was a child, the Daily News reported. She died less than three weeks after a motorist struck and killed Lee Strong while backing into a crosswalk at Third Avenue and E. 71st Street, also in the 19th Precinct.

City crash data show the 19th Precinct has a high rate of traffic injuries compared to other precincts. Motorists have killed at least 13 people walking in the 19th Precinct in the last 24 months, according to data compiled by Streetsblog.

The crash that killed Blanca Pagan occurred in Kallos’s City Council district. To hear McPherson and Kallos tell it, cyclists are the 19th Precinct’s most pressing traffic hazard.

McPherson was named the precinct CO this year after his predecessor, Deputy Inspector James M. Grant, was identified as a target of an NYPD corruption investigation. “From what I understand, bikes are a big problem,” McPherson said at a precinct community council meeting, not long after taking over for Grant — who himself concentrated on bike crackdowns as motorists killed people in crosswalks.

“One of the top complaints I get in the district is about bikes,” Kallos told Our Town after a bike ticket blitz earlier this year, which according to Our Town was conducted in collaboration with Kallos and Garodnick.

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Drivers Killed Two Seniors in Manhattan and NYPD Filed No Charges

DOT reduced traffic lanes but did not install concrete islands to slow turns at West End Avenue and W. 93rd Street, where a driver killed 85-year-old George Mamalas. The white line represents Mamalas's path through the intersection — it is unknown which direction he was walking — and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver, per NYPD. Image: Google Maps

DOT reduced traffic lanes but did not install concrete islands to slow turns at West End Avenue and W. 93rd Street, where a driver killed George Mamalas. The white line represents Mamalas’s path through the intersection — it is unknown which direction he was walking — and the red arrow indicates the path of the driver, per NYPD. Image: Google Maps

Drivers fatally struck two seniors in separate crashes in Manhattan in the last few weeks. NYPD filed no charges in either case.

On August 23 at around 3:50 p.m., 85-year-old George Mamalas was crossing W. 93rd Street at West End Avenue when someone hit him with a box truck. NYPD told the West Side Rag that the driver was westbound on 93rd, which is one-way, and turning left onto West End.

Mamalas died from his injuries on September 11. His obituary says he was a Korean War veteran, dancer, and Pilates instructor.

There is no dedicated turn signal at West End Avenue and W. 93rd Street. If the driver had a green light and Mamalas entered the intersection with a steady walk signal, Mamalas would have had the right of way.

NYPD did not identify the driver, which is typical when police don’t charge or ticket a motorist who kills a person.

Drivers have killed at least five people walking on West End Avenue since January 2014, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog. Following a string of deaths, beginning with the crash that killed 9-year-old Cooper Stock, DOT implemented a road diet along 35 blocks of West End Avenue in the fall of 2014, but installed concrete islands to slow driver turns at just four intersections. W. 93rd Street wasn’t one of them.

George Mamalas was killed in the 24th Precinct and in the City Council district represented by Helen Rosenthal.

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Cyclists Need Protection From Reckless Driving, Not From Themselves

The 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side, tickets more cyclists than almost any other precinct in the city. So it was fitting that the above tweet this morning came from the 19th. It encapsulates NYPD’s failure to recognize how dangerous driving behaviors, not cyclists’ own actions, are the big threat to people on bikes.

The riding tips are all well and good, but will they “help prevent most collisions,” as the precinct suggests? The evidence says otherwise.

Of the 14 cyclist fatalities in New York City this year, 12 involved drivers breaking the law, according to data compiled by Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives.

Five of the fatal crashes were hit-and-runs. Of those, one was the result of a driver failing to yield to Olga Cook; in another a driver ran a red light and killed an unidentified 41-year-old man; and a third was caused by a driver who appeared to deliberately strike Matthew von Ohlen.

In three other cases, evidence suggests cyclists had the right of way and were killed by drivers who failed to yield. Three more fatalities involved drivers impaired by marijuana or alcohol. And 33-year-old James Gregg was killed by the driver of an oversized truck on Sixth Avenue in Brooklyn, a neighborhood street where trucks are prohibited.

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DOT Moves Ahead With Two Pairs of Upper East Side Bike Lanes

In July, DOT will install painted bikes lanes on 70th, 71st, 77th, and 78th Streets. Image: DOT

In July, DOT will paint bikes lanes on 70th, 71st, 77th, and 78th Streets. Image: DOT

With Manhattan Community Board 8 failing to agree on three pairs of Upper East Side crosstown bike lanes, DOT will go ahead with painted bike lanes on 70th/71st and 77th/78th streets early next month.

So concludes the year’s most ridiculous bike lane story, an epic drama that at one point outed Woody Allen as a full-on bike lane NIMBY.

Advocates had hoped for a protected lane on 72nd Street, but DOT signaled early on that it would only consider painted lanes. These bike lane pairs are just thermoplastic stripes designating space for cycling, without any changes to parking spots or car lanes.

Nevertheless, at meeting after meeting, people showed up in a panic about the possibility of bike lanes by their home, school, or workplace. Parents and administrators from schools on 84th and 85th streets, in particular, fretted over the purported threat to pedestrian safety, despite all evidence to the contrary.

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Drivers Are Killing People, and the 19th Precinct Is Sending Cyclists to Court

The 19th Precinct likes to boast about local officers aggressively ticketing people for riding bikes on sidewalks. A data analysis by Transportation Alternatives shows the precinct also issues far more criminal court summonses for sidewalk riding than other Manhattan commands.

According to TA, in 2015 the Upper East Side 19th Precinct issued 116 criminal summonses for sidewalk riding, and 15 moving violations — a ratio of eight to one. TA says the typical ratio for precincts citywide is close to one criminal summons to one moving violation.

A moving violation can be resolved online or through the mail, while a criminal summons requires a court appearance. Failure to appear in court can result in a warrant that leads to jail time and barriers to employment.

NYPD greatly reduced the issuance of criminal court summonses for sidewalk riding in 2014, but the 19th Precinct is one of several that still sends hundreds of cyclists to court per year. Next month TA will release an in-depth report on bike enforcement, which will include criminal court summons data.

“In addition to disproportionately high bike enforcement in general — they issue 51 percent of all bike on sidewalk c-summonses in the Manhattan North patrol area — [the 19th Precinct is] choosing to take the extremely harsh option,” says TA Deputy Director Caroline Samponaro.

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Manhattan CB 8 Votes Against Basic Striped Crosstown Bike Lanes

At CB 8's request, DOT proposed alternative pairings (in blue) to those in its original proposal (in purple). Image: DOT

At CB 8’s request, DOT proposed a menu of six potential crosstown bike lane pairs. Image: DOT

Last night, by a vote of 25-19 with one abstention, Manhattan Community Board 8 voted against DOT’s plan for three pairs of painted crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side. Despite four months of deliberations, bike lane opponents managed to achieve their desired outcome last night, sending a strong signal that no bike lane design is too mild to avoid their wrath.

The board was considering a resolution passed by the CB 8 transportation committee in favor of crosstown lanes on 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th. Multiple meetings and several months of absurd wrangling over thermoplastic stripes preceded that vote.

The Upper East Side plan does not remove any parking or car lanes — it just puts lines on the ground to designate space for cycling.

To opponents, this basic safety measure is, for some reason, unsuitable for any street with a school, hospital, church, or other notable institution. Parents and administrators from schools on 84th and 85th Streets in particular have said the presence of bike lanes would, all evidence to the contrary, endanger their students.

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Reason Prevails at the End of Upper East Side Bike Lane Meeting


The committee ultimately voted in support of bike lane pairs on 70th/71st, 77th/78th, and 84th/85th. Image: DOT

Bringing some resolution to one of the more absurd bike lane stories in recent memory, last night the Manhattan Community Board 8 transportation committee voted 9-2 in favor of a DOT plan to add three pairs of crosstown bike lanes on the Upper East Side.

First came many protestations about how these bike lane stripes have no place on the neighborhood’s streets. But supporters came out to the sanctuary of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church too, and their comments buoyed the committee.

DOT’s plan removes no parking or car lanes, it just adds some thermoplast to create a bit more order and designate some street space for cycling. Nevertheless, this was the third CB 8 meeting devoted to the project. Given the drawn-out process and histrionics about plain old bike lane stripes, you have to wonder if it would have been any more difficult to advance a more ambitious project, like a 72nd Street protected bike lane.

As with previous meetings, many speakers insisted that specific streets could not possibly accommodate a striped bike lane — the presence of a school, a hospital, a religious institution, or fire station supposedly disqualified these streets. Lenox Hill Hospital on 77th Street, Wagner Middle School on 76th Street, a Citi Bike station on 84th Street — the list was endless.

“It will be an awful story if we have to come back and say a bike rider hit one of our young children,” said one woman, who identified herself as an administrator at St. Ignatius Loyola School. “You really need to think about the children.”

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No Charges for UES Motorist Who Killed Senior While Backing Up to Park

Mary Jo Myszelow was killed by a driver backing up to get a parking spot on Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street. No charges were filed. Image: Google Maps

Mary Jo Myszelow was killed by a driver backing up to get a parking spot on Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street. No charges were filed. Image: Google Maps

Another New York City pedestrian has been killed by a motorist backing up in pursuit of a parking space.

At around 5:50 p.m. on March 26, Mary Jo Myszelow, 76, was crossing Madison Avenue near E. 95th Street, east to west, when she was hit with a 2013 Lincoln sedan. The Post reported that the driver, headed north on Madison, “spotted an available spot” and was backing toward it as Myszelow began to cross the street.

WNBC said Myszelow, who suffered a head injury, was “conscious and alert” at the scene. Reports conflict as to whether she died last Thursday or Friday.

Myszelow lived in Cornwall, in Orange County. An obituary published by the Middletown Times Herald-Record, which gives the date of death as March 31, says she once worked at RCA and the United Nations. “Besides being fluent in Italian, she taught English to children while living in Germany,” the obituary says. “As a world traveler Mary Jo visited China, Tibet, Australia, Turkey, Peru, Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Mexico and the Galapagos Islands.”

The driver who killed Mary Jo Myszelow, whose name was shielded by police, was not charged criminally or issued a traffic ticket. NYPD said Myszelow was crossing in the middle of the block, but state law says “[t]he driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety.” An NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog the investigation into the crash was ongoing as of this morning.

Myszelow was the second NYC pedestrian known to have been fatally struck by a driver backing up for a parking spot in the last four weeks. Motorists have killed six pedestrians while driving in reverse on New York City streets since May 2015, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

Mary Jo Myszelow was one of at least two pedestrians killed by motorists in the 19th Precinct in March. The crash occurred in Community District 8 — where NIMBYs scream bloody murder at the prospect of minor street safety improvements — and in the City Council district represented by Dan Garodnick.


Still No Progress on UES Crosstown Bike Lanes at Community Board 8

The surreal world of Upper East Side bike lane meetings took another bizarre turn Wednesday night. DOT has put forward a simple plan for painted crosstown bike lanes in the neighborhood, but instead of breezing through Community Board 8, it’s become a prime example of how even the most basic safety improvements can get bogged down in a series of gripe sessions.

DOT wants to install three new crosstown dedicated bike routes on the Upper East Side [PDF]. Image: DOT

The three pairs of crosstown bike lanes in DOT’s plan. Image: DOT

DOT’s plan would add painted bike lanes on three pairs of crosstown streets: 85th and 84th streets, 78th and 77th streets, and 67th and 68th streets [PDF]. The project removes no parking spaces or car lanes. CB 8 passed a resolution asking DOT to install crosstown bike lanes in the neighborhood in November, but once DOT showed an actual proposal, the NIMBYs came out of the woodwork.

Wednesday’s meeting was no different, according to advocates and committee members in attendance, with a succession of residents and organizations from each affected street arguing why their block could not handle a painted bike lane.

“There were people from each of the streets who were at the meeting and they all said ‘on my street over my dead body,’” said attorney and UES resident Steve Vaccaro. Compared to previous meetings, Vaccaro said, “the anecdotal evidence was even more irrelevant. There were people saying, ‘There’s a thrift shop on our street.’ There were people saying, ‘There are restaurants on our street.’”

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No ROW Charge for Garbage Hauler Who Killed Woman in UES Crosswalk

The driver of a private sanitation truck fatally struck Jodi McGrath at First Avenue and E. 92nd Street. The red arrow indicates the path of the driver, and the white arrow shows the path of the victim. Image: Google Maps

The driver of a private sanitation truck fatally struck Jodi McGrath at First Avenue and E. 92nd Street. The red arrow indicates the path of the driver, and the white arrow shows the path of the victim. Image: Google Maps

A pedestrian was struck and killed by the driver of a private garbage truck on the Upper East Side yesterday. Police determined the driver failed to yield but did not charge him with violating the Right of Way Law.

The crash happened at around 4:30 Tuesday morning. According to reports, Jodi McGrath was crossing First Avenue west to east, in a crosswalk and with the signal, when the driver hit her while turning left onto the avenue from E. 92nd Street, which is one-way eastbound.

McGrath, 55, was conscious and responsive at the scene, Gothamist reported, with injuries to her head, leg, and arm. She later died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The driver was a 58-year-old man whose identity was shielded by NYPD. Police summonsed the driver for failure to yield, an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog, but crash investigators did not file charges under the Right of Way Law. The law, which made it a misdemeanor for motorists to harm people who are walking and biking with the right of way, is supposed to deter reckless driving while providing a measure of accountability for crashes that injure and kill thousands of New Yorkers a year. It’s been on the books for 19 months, but NYPD and city district attorneys rarely apply it.

Speaking at last week’s Vision Zero Cities conference, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton didn’t know when the Right of Way Law took effect. “Everything new takes a while to get ramped up,” Bratton said.

Private sanitation trucks have the highest pedestrian kill rate of any type of vehicle in NYC, according to “Killed by Automobile,” a landmark 1999 analysis of crash data produced by Charles Komanoff [PDF]. Data tracked by Streetsblog show private trash haulers killed a cyclist and two pedestrians in 2015.

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