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Posts from the "Ben Kallos" Category

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NYPD: Failure to Yield Caused Crash That Left Cyclist Brain Dead; No Charges

The bus driver was making a turn, in red, when he struck cyclist Anna Maria Moström, whose path is shown in white. NYPD's preliminary investigation results fault the driver, but no charges have been filed. Photo: Google Maps

The bus driver was making a turn, in red, when he struck cyclist Anna Maria Moström, whose path is shown in white. NYPD’s preliminary investigation results fault the driver, but no charges have been filed. Photo: Google Maps

No charges have been filed against the bus driver who left a Roosevelt Island cyclist brain dead last week, even though NYPD’s preliminary investigation shows the driver caused the crash by failing to yield to the cyclist.

Photo: annamariamostrom/Instagram

Photo: annamariamostrom/Instagram

At 9:18 p.m. on Wednesday, October 8, Anna Maria Moström, 29, was riding her bike northbound on Roosevelt Island’s Main Street. A 51-year-old man behind the wheel of a Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation “red bus” going south turned left across her path to enter a turnaround beneath the Motorgate parking garage. The drivers-side bumper struck Moström and she fell off her bike, according to police. She was unresponsive when EMS arrived, and was transported to Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Moström, a model who moved to New York two years ago, is a Roosevelt Island resident. After the crash, her family arrived from Sweden to be by her hospital bed. Although she has undergone surgeries and doctors hope she can begin breathing without a respirator soon, she faces a bleak prognosis for regaining consciousness, according to Swedish newspapers Nöjesbladet and Expressen. The family is making end-of-life preparations including organ donation, according to a friend of Moström’s who spoke to the Daily News.

While the driver was not intoxicated and was not using a cell phone at the time of the crash, NYPD said preliminary investigation results showed that the driver was at fault for not yielding to the cyclist. Although there is a new law to penalize drivers in exactly this type of crash, no summonses have been issued and no charges have been filed against the driver.

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Kallos Puts Out a Meek Report on Upper East Side Street Safety

The Upper East Side is full of dangerous intersections, and residents are clamoring for bus countdown clocks, benches, and bike racks, according to a two-part report released today by Council Member Ben Kallos [PDF 1, 2]. It’s not often a council member releases a report on livable streets, and Kallos should be commended for his interest. (DOT says it “has not received any similar reports from other elected officials.”) But the report amounts to a wish list of small fixes, with nary a recommendation to improve street design and enforcement in the neighborhood.

A new report from Ben Kallos on livable streets and traffic safety doesn't offer weighty recommendations on much of either.

A new report from Ben Kallos on livable streets and traffic safety doesn’t offer substantial recommendations on either topic.

Kallos’s staff combed through NYPD crash data, 115 survey responses, and input from the council member’s traffic safety forums and participatory budgeting meetings to come up with recommendations. The end result is more an index of day-to-day requests rather than a roadmap for livable streets.

The report identifies the district’s most dangerous streets, including those with recent fatalities. Second Avenue tops the list, with seven of the district’s 10 most collision-prone intersections. Despite pinpointing where people are getting injured and killed, the report only ventures to suggest adding more time to crossing signals, repainting crosswalks, repairing potholes, smoothing pavement, and improving rainwater drainage, among other changes. The need for safer street designs, including the one planned for Second Avenue after subway construction is complete, is never mentioned.

Kallos’s staff said they hope the report can inform DOT’s Vision Zero work, including the borough-wide pedestrian safety action plan expected to be released by the end of the year.

The report has a bit more to say about bus improvements, but not much. Kallos has allocated $640,000 for 32 countdown clocks at bus stops, a top request at participatory budgeting meetings. The report notes the demand for more service on the M15 Select Bus Service route, identifies the need to improve the M31, M72, and M98 crosstown routes, and recommends locations for new benches and bus shelters. It oddly omits the SBS upgrades planned for the M86 crosstown bus.

While the report recommends specific locations for bike racks, it’s equivocal on bike lanes: “Bike lanes have passionate support and opposition in the community, which is why the issue requires continuous conversation and communication between small businesses, residents and city government.”

Streetsblog asked which streets residents have prioritized for new bike lanes. “We didn’t receive specific suggestions for where individuals would like to see bike lanes expanded,” said Kallos spokesperson Sarah Anders.

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Ben Kallos Seeks to Make NYPD Traffic Summons Data Open and Mappable

As part of a raft of bills on government data and transparency, Council Member Ben Kallos has introduced legislation that would require the city to release and map data about where NYPD issues moving violations, among other things. The bill would open up new traffic enforcement information to the public, but it might also require a top-to-bottom overhaul of how city agencies issue and process violation notices.

A new bill could require NYPD to change the way it tracks and releases data about moving violations. Photo: Runs With Scissors/Flickr

A new bill could help New Yorkers see if NYPD is issuing traffic violations at the locations most in need of enforcement. Photo: Ken Stein/Flickr

Currently, information on moving violations is available only at the precinct level, aggregated in reports on the NYPD website each month. The Kallos bill would require NYPD to specify the date, time, and location of each moving violation in updates posted at least monthly. The bill calls for precise latitude and longitude coordinates, but allows for data to be coded to the nearest intersection.

“There’s a lot of fascinating questions you could explore,” said statistics professor and I Quant NY blogger Ben Wellington, who was particularly interested in tracking whether high-crash areas are also receiving the highest levels of enforcement. ”In a Vision Zero plan, you probably want to shift resources to places where there are the most problems but the least resources,” he said.

City agencies would themselves benefit from user-friendly data releases. “Getting this crime, crash and summonses data online in a usable form would help the police share it both internally and with other agencies,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, in a statement. ”We strongly support the intent of this bill, and would like to see the NYPD and City Hall work with CM Kallos and the public to open this data.”

The bill is sponsored by Kallos, Peter Koo, and Rory Lancman, and has also received encouragement from other key council members. Technology Committee Chair James Vacca told Streetsblog last month that he supports releasing geo-coded moving violations data. A spokesperson for Brad Lander said the bill included “good next steps.” Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez said in a statement that he is ”hopeful to see this bill pass.”

The amount of work NYPD would have to undertake to comply with the bill’s mandate remains an open question. The DMV’s traffic ticket form, used by the police department, only has a “place of occurrence” line, in which officers can write a location. This type of non-standardized information is near-impossible to sort geographically.

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Two Pedestrians Killed in a Month in Same Upper East Side Precinct

Motorists have killed two pedestrians in the 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side, in the last month. The second victim was a woman hit by a school bus driver yesterday.

Photo: Neetzan Zimmerman / ##https://twitter.com/neetzan/status/464490348698693633/photo/1##@neetzan##

Photo: Neetzan Zimmerman / @neetzan

The victim was crossing E. 93rd Street at Second Avenue south to north at around 3:30 p.m. when she was run over by the bus driver, who was traveling west on 93rd, according to reports. She died at the scene.

NYPD had not released the victim’s identity as of this afternoon. Reports said she appeared to be in her 40s.

From the Daily News:

“The bus was traveling westbound and trying to get through a yellow light before it turned red. The bus driver didn’t see the pedestrian. He was looking straight ahead trying to make the light,” the witness said.

He said the [Second Avenue subway] construction barriers were likely a factor.

“It really does obfuscate the view,” he said.

Multiple media reports speculated that the victim may have been crossing against the light, though one man told DNAinfo that drivers often run reds at the intersection.

Freddy Alvarez, the resident manager at the nearby Waterford Condominiums, did not witness the accident but saw the gruesome aftermath and groceries scattered in the roadway.

He said that traffic barriers and equipment from construction on the Second Avenue subway line create a hazard for pedestrians and a distraction for drivers.

It is “very dangerous. They don’t stop,” he said. “The fence blocks the [traffic] light.”

A temporary light was placed at the intersection when a stop sign failed to properly regulate traffic, Alvarez said.

“Even with light,” he added, “people don’t stop.”

No summonses were issued to the driver, an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog, and the investigation is ongoing.

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City Council Reso Calls for Community Board Term Limits and Transparency

A resolution brewing in the City Council recommends major reform for community boards.

Ben Kallos. Photo: NYC Council

Ben Kallos. Photo: NYC Council

Introduced by freshman City Council Member Ben Kallos, the reso calls for board members to serve a maximum of five consecutive two-year terms, and for unspecified term limits for board and committee chairs. It also recommends a transparent appointment process and highly publicized, multi-pronged recruitment efforts.

This would mark a dramatic shift from current practices, where board members can be appointed for life and borough presidents often refuse to discuss how they are chosen.

Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side and served on Manhattan Community Board 8, based the resolution on his policy report, “Improving Community Boards in New York City.” The report recommends a standardized application process that would require reappointment applications and put an end to “automatic reappointment.” Employees of elected officials and executive committee members of political parties would be excluded from board membership.

The resolution calls for an “independent screening panel” for all boroughs, modeled on an existing Manhattan panel put in place by Scott Stringer. Stringer’s successor Gale Brewer enlisted community groups to screen some 600 applicants, including long-time board members, for her first round of appointments this year.

Though community board votes are technically advisory, DOT will generally not implement significant street redesigns without their endorsement. Community boards have a mixed record on street safety, and some board members appear to be reflexively resistant to life-saving street designs, regardless of public support or DOT data. An infusion of members whose priorities go beyond maintaining free on-street parking would be a refreshing change for many boards across the boroughs. More broadly, these reforms would ideally result in boards that more accurately reflect evolving demographics.

Of course, some are content with the status quo. “Our office will not be supporting this resolution,” said a spokesperson for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “In fact, our office feels that this resolution is not necessary.”

“At this point, I’d like reform to be voluntary,” Kallos told the Queens Chronicle. At this writing the resolution is sponsored by an array of council newcomers and heavy-hitters: Brad Lander, Jimmy Vacca, Mark Levine, Danny Dromm, Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso, Ydanis Rodriguez, Debi Rose, Ritchie Torres, and Peter Koo.