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Posts from the "Daniel Dromm" Category


115th Precinct Sting Issued More Moving Violations to Cyclists Than Motorists

While some precincts are ramping up failure-to-yield stings and disavowing jaywalking tickets, not every NYPD outpost has moved beyond the shoot-fish-in-a-barrel approach to traffic enforcement.

The latest traffic operation from the precinct covering Jackson Heights, North Corona and East Elmhurst had a familiar target: Bicycle violations were the top category of summons issued. Meanwhile, there’s no mention of the top cause of fatal crashes in New York City — speeding drivers.

Deputy Inspector Michael A. Cody, commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Photo: NYPD

Deputy Inspector Michael A. Cody, commanding officer of the 115th Precinct. Photo: NYPD

According to a newsletter from the office of Council Member Daniel Dromm — under a section with the unfortunate title “Good Job 115th Precinct!” — a precinct operation this month issued 62 moving violations. “Bicycle moving violations” led the way with 32 tickets issued:

Last week, the 115th Precinct under the direction of Deputy Inspector Michael Cody conducted an operation in the area of 73rd Street and 37th Avenue resulting in 23 summonses for horn honking, 22 double parking violations, 2 handicap parking violations and 1 unlicensed operator violation.

Also, officers under the direction of Lieutenant Shapiro conducted a second initiative with the goal of issuing appropriate traffic violations to ensure the safety of pedestrians.

This operation resulted in 25 parking violations and 62 moving violations. Below is a breakdown of the violations issued: 32 bicycle moving violations, 19 double parking violations, 17 unlicensed operator violations, 9 fail to yield to pedestrians violations, 6 bus stop parking violations, 3 failure to wear seat belts violations [and] 1 driving while using a cell phone violation.

Apparently, no speeding tickets were issued. Last year, the 115th Precinct issued 193 speeding tickets — about one every other day [PDF]. Speeding is the leading cause of fatal crashes in New York City, and failure to yield to pedestrians was the leading cause of crashes resulting in injuries in 2011.

Last year, 178 pedestrians and cyclists were killed, and 16,059 injured, by drivers in NYC. A bicyclist has not killed a pedestrian in New York City in nearly five years.

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Doctors Relate the Horror of Traffic Violence at Pedestrian Injury Summit

Medical professionals and transportation experts convened Thursday for the third New York City Summit on Pedestrian Injury, hosted by Elmhurst Hospital. The day-long event brought transportation officials and advocates together with doctors who witness the destruction caused by reckless drivers in the city every day.

Queens Boulevard continues to be "a problem" for emergency physicians at Elmhurst and Jamaica Hospitals, along other area streets. Photo: ##

Along with other streets, Queens Boulevard continues to be “a problem” for emergency physicians at Elmhurst and Jamaica Hospitals. Photo: Wikipedia

The summit is chaired by Dr. Jamie Ullman, director of neurosurgery at Elmhurst, and Anju Galer, trauma coordinator for the hospital’s departments of surgery and nursing. Elmhurst is in year two of a three-year pedestrian and cyclist injury study. Ullman said 2012 marked an all-time high in the number of injuries within the hospital catchment area, and in 2013, she said, it’s a trend that shows “no signs of stopping.”

Dr. Kaushal Shah is the principal investigator for the study. Shah noted that media reports usually offer only the barest details of what happens in a traffic crash. To illustrate, he showed a slide of a recent story that reduced the deaths of two pedestrians to one short paragraph.

When a person is struck by a motorist, said Shah, it is “the worst day of their life.” For example, the first child hit by curb-jumping driver Francis Aung Lu in Maspeth in September was in the operating room for 10 hours, Shah said. Senior Cui Ju Yu, struck by a hit-and-run driver in Corona two weeks later, died from a brain hematoma*.

Most adult pedestrians who die are killed due to trauma to the head and neck, said Dr. George Agriantonis, director of trauma at Elmhurst. Injuries to the lower extremities often lead to significant disability. Flipping through slides of x-rayed and photographed images of grievous injuries, Agriantonis said compound fractures of the legs and shattered pelvises are common.

Injury patterns depend on the speed and type of vehicle, Agriantonis said. When an adult is struck by a passenger vehicle, there are usually three incidents of impact. The front of the vehicle hits the legs, which throws the victim onto the hood and windshield. The third impact occurs when the victim falls off the vehicle and hits the pavement or sidewalk.

Small children take the brunt of a collision to the torso and pelvis. Rather than being whipped onto the hood, said Agriantonis, because of their height children are thrown forward, and remain in the path of the vehicle.

Shah said researchers are seeing an increase in sidewalk crashes. Said Ullman: “I don’t know why these people are driving on the sidewalk.”

The Elmhurst catchment area is populated by 1.5 million people, Ullman said. Pedestrians hit by drivers were the leading injury category of emergency patients at Elmhurst from 2000 to 2009, and at 296, the number of pedestrians and cyclists admitted in 2012 was the hospital’s highest ever.

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Council Member Danny Dromm Talks Jackson Heights Plazas With NY1

As part of his excellent series visiting all 51 city council districts, NY1′s Errol Louis joined Council Member Danny Dromm for a walk around Jackson Heights earlier this month.

Louis began the segment by telling viewers about the neighborhood from the back seat of a car rolling down Roosevelt Avenue, but Dromm, an honoree at Thursday’s Streets Ball, got him walking around before long. Dromm took Louis to two popular spaces reclaimed from cars in his district: the 78th Street play street, which links together a school and a park, and Diversity Plaza, a busy plaza surrounded by immigrant-owned businesses.

Sukhi NY, the group started by local business owners to help take care of the space, has already organized popular events in the plaza for over a year, and has even more events planned. Tonight at 8:30 p.m., the group is organizing an Eid celebration in the plaza, featuring music, poetry, and snacks.

On Saturday, the Jackson Heights Beautification Group is organizing a cleanup on the plaza from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday evening, the Queens World Film Festival will be screening short films in Diversity Plaza, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Dromm isn’t the only council member showing off livable streets to NY1 viewers: In August, Council Member Julissa Ferreras talked pedestrian medians and plazas during her tour with Louis. Who will be next?

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Is This the First NYC Community Board Meeting Held in a Public Plaza?

I can’t say with certainty that this is the first NYC community board meeting held in a public plaza, but it certainly is the first I’ve heard of in my 22 years in New York City. On Thursday, Queens Community Board 3 held their monthly meeting amid the hustle and bustle of Jackson Heights’ Diversity Plaza on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th Streets.

By my count the meeting began with at least 150 people seated or standing. Plenty of on-lookers stopped by and admired the proceedings. The plaza was quite crowded.

City Council Member Danny Dromm (to the right of the mic), an early and vocal supporter of the plaza, spoke to the crowd. Without his steadfast leadership, there’s a good chance this meeting space wouldn’t exist.

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After Child’s Death, Jackson Heights Forum Focuses on Schools and Speeding

In front of an audience of about 60 residents at I.S. 145 last night, city representatives and advocates answered questions about traffic safety in Jackson Heights. The forum was held in the wake of the death of 11-year-old I.S. 145 student Miguel Torres, who was run over by a dump truck driver at Northern Boulevard and 80th Street while crossing with the light.

115th Precinct commanding officer Michael Michael A. Cody speaks at Tuesday night's forum. Photo: Stephen Miller

“It broke my heart when I had to see the mother on the corner of 80th Street, hysterical because she had lost her 11-year-old son,” Council Member Daniel Dromm said. “The urgency to have this kind of forum became even more apparent.”

Organized by Dromm, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, and Transportation Alternatives, the forum featured the council member, DOT Queens Borough Deputy Commissioner Dalila Hall, TA’s Ya-Ting Liu, and Deputy Inspector Michael A. Cody, commanding officer of NYPD’s 115th Precinct.

“Speeding, unequivocally, is the number one cause of traffic deaths in New York City,” far outpacing distracted driving, alcohol and illegal drugs, Liu said as the meeting began.

Deputy Inspector Cody, who started at the 115th Precinct six weeks ago, said the precinct has issued 39 speeding tickets so far this year. That’s on par with last year, when it issued 177 speeding tickets — about one every other day. By comparison, the precinct issued 1,090 tickets for tinted windows in 2012.

The department’s current lack of attention to speeding stands in contrast with how Cody spoke about intoxicated drivers. “A lot of times when I was a young officer, DWI was not considered a fashionable arrest,” he said. “We’ve come a long way … it’s a key part of our crime-fighting strategy.”

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Jackson Heights Turnaround: Business Owners Will Help Maintain Plaza

A group of business owners who decried the 37th Road pedestrian plaza in Jackson Heights after it opened have come around and launched a group to act as stewards of the new public space. This turn of events comes after persistent work by Council Member Danny Dromm’s office and local merchants, who are now working together to ensure the plaza is a long-term success. The plaza’s undeniable popularity as a gathering place also hasn’t hurt.

Business owners and Council Member Daniel Dromm announced the creation of a group to maintain the new Jackson Heights pedestrian plaza last Friday. Photo: Times Ledger

A few months ago, Internet Café owner Agha Saleh and Bombay Chat café owner Shazia Kausar were two of the business owners unhappy with the new plaza. Saleh was quoted in the New York Times saying that it had contributed to crime in the neighborhood, while Kausar told the Times Ledger that soon after the plaza opened in October 2011, her business had dropped and she was having trouble paying employees.

Citing a “gap of communication” between business owners, DOT, and plaza supporters when the project was implemented, Saleh credited months of work by Dromm’s office and DOT to address the business owners’ concerns. “We’re really proud that we brought people on board,” Saleh said.

Now, Saleh and Kausar are working with adjacent business owners to create a new group called Sukhi NY, which will manage what is being called Diversity Plaza. “Sukhi” is an acronym for Social Uplift Knowledge and Hope Initiatives; it also translates from Urdu, Hindi and other languages as “prosperity and happiness.” Council Member Dromm, whose office had until now been coordinating plaza upkeep, joined Saleh and Kausar at an event on the plaza last Friday to announce the formation of Sukhi NY, which is still in its formative stages. Official approval by DOT as a plaza partner is expected to come in September. In the meantime, the organization is kicking off its stewardship of the plaza by hosting a festival that ends today, marking the end of Muslim holy month Ramadan.

“This plaza can benefit the stakeholders who depend on this place for their livelihood,” Saleh said.

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Elmhurst Reps Want LIRR Station Reopened and New Revenues to Pay For It

Congressman Joe Crowley and City Council Member Daniel Dromm hold up t-shirts from Transportation Alternatives' Rider Rebellion campaign for better transit. Photo: Noah Kazis

Elmhurst’s elected officials voiced support for transit investment at a town hall hosted by Congressman Joe Crowley and Council Member Daniel Dromm last night.

A group of politicians including the two hosts, State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, and Assembly Members Grace Meng and Francisco Moya called for reopening Elmhurst’s Long Island Railroad Station, shuttered in 1985 due to low ridership. And to help bus and subway riders across the city, Elmhurst’s reps said the state would need to find new, dedicated revenue for transit.

Underlying the entire evening discussion was Elmhurst’s explosive population growth, fed by a vibrant immigrant community. The population of Elmhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods of Corona, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights grew 40 percent between 1980 and 2010, and many believe recent estimates for the area are too low. “Elmhurst continues to grow and multiply,” said Crowley, “but we have still been limited to the same modes of transportation.”

Residents complained of crowded buses and leaky subway stations, demanding more investment in their neighborhood. Just under half of subway riders interviewed by Transportation Alternatives at a nearby station said they had a one-way commute of 45 minutes or more.

Crowley, who also serves as head of the Queens Democratic Party, said that more and better transit has to be part of the solution for the neighborhood. “It’s about more livable communities, places that provide access to people,” he said. “It’s about finding smarter ways to move people about.”

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The Jackson Heights Plaza Is Growing on Some Local Merchants

Planters installed last week are adding a little bit of color to the 37th Road pedestrian plaza in Jackson Heights. Photo: Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

A package of enhancements and adjustments to the new pedestrian plaza on 37th Road in Jackson Heights — the object of a high-profile backlash from a group of local merchants this winter — is winning over some of the skeptics.

DOT has placed new planters and seating to spruce up the plaza and give it more color, while also adding parking and loading spaces and reversing the direction of traffic on a nearby block to improve access to the plaza, allaying some of the merchants’ fears.

The larger package of transportation changes related to the plaza had shown impressive benefits — shaving seven minutes off of local bus trips — and the new public space was already widely used. But recent tweaks have helped build a stronger consensus around the plaza, which proved to be the most controversial element of the plan.

City Council Member Daniel Dromm is a plaza supporter and has used his discretionary funds to pay for its upkeep. ”DOT has stepped up to the plate,” he said of the dozen or so planters that arrived in the plaza last Thursday. “The place is looking much more attractive.”

More street furniture is set to be delivered this Friday, when tables and chairs will be delivered at the request of two local restaurant owners. Those business owners, who had previously aligned with the merchants leading the fight against the plaza, have disassociated from the opposition. “They have grown to see the benefits to their restaurants,” said Dromm.

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Unlocking the Potential of the New Jackson Heights Plaza

Full seating in the new Jackson Heights plaza last fall. One merchant opposed to the project told a local paper that the plaza is "like a ghost town." Photo: Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

Earlier this month you might have noticed a few press accounts about merchants in Jackson Heights who think a new public plaza on one short block of 37th Road is crimping their bottom line. The plaza is actually part of a much broader plan to improve street safety, speed bus trips, and reduce traffic congestion in Jackson Heights, which neighborhood groups and NYC DOT have been working on for years without receiving much media attention. Now that there’s a tinge of conflict, the press is all over it — an innovative and community-driven transportation project has turned into a story about shopkeepers upset over the removal of 20 parking spaces.

The plaza reclaimed the block of 37th Road between 73rd Street and 74th Street. Before the plaza, traffic on that block degraded the neighborhood street network. Drivers turning left onto 37th Road used to cause traffic to back up on 73rd Street and beyond, causing epic fits of horn-honking. Buses routed onto the block more than a decade ago to make way for the construction of the 74th Street transit hub had to make a series of zigzagging turns, slowing down more than 10,000 bus riders every weekday. When the proposal to re-route the buses and take traffic off the block came before the local community board, the vote in favor was unanimous.

“The objective was to get that traffic to move more smoothly and reduce that honking,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, who has championed the changes and shepherded the project through to completion. Now Q47 and Q49 buses make one turn instead of three, and Dromm says bus drivers have told him they save seven minutes on each trip compared to the old route.

Merchants knew about the changes well in advance and most of the neighborhood’s business groups were supportive, said Dromm. After the plaza installation last fall, complaints began to surface about the loss of parking. But the parking loss — 20 spaces, according to one plaza opponent — is insignificant compared to the foot traffic that could be drawn to a well-run public space. Not only is Jackson Heights compact, walkable, and full of pedestrian traffic, but it has the least amount of park space per capita of any neighborhood in the city. The plaza is also right next to the 74th Street subway station, which sees more than 40,000 boardings on a typical weekday.

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Jackson Heights Play Street Open Extra Month, Could Become Permanent

Jackson Heights’ 78th Street Play Street, a summertime street closure won in last year’s best feel-good story of grassroots activism, has been expanded from two months of car-free space to three this year. If all goes well in September, when the school year has started, some sort of year-round street closure should be in the works for the kids of Jackson Heights.

“We’re on track to reforming the way that whole piece of street works,” said Donovan Finn, a member of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance. Both the Department of Transportation and City Council Member Daniel Dromm are “pretty solidly on board” with making some sort of big change in the next year or so should all go well this summer, Finn reported.

By extending the play street through September — last year, the block of 78th adjacent to Travers Park was closed 24/7 in July and August — neighborhood residents and city officials will be able to see how it works when school is in session. The private Garden School uses the street both to access its five-space parking garage and for loading and unloading school buses. “That’s actually the only use that faces the street,” said Finn.

DOT and Dromm specifically requested that the play street be extended into September in order to test out how the school would make a year-round closure work, whether full- or part-time.

We’ll see what happens in September, but so far the play street is again wildly popular in the open space-starved neighborhood. “Within 20 minutes of having it closed, there were kids out there running around,” said Finn. Once amenities like picnic tables, umbrellas, and astroturf are brought out, he said, residents will be able to use the new public space in even more ways.