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Chin Calls for Safety Fixes After Driver Injures Three Women on South Street

South Street at Rutgers Slip, before a traffic signal and crosswalks were installed last year. Photo: Google Maps

A driver seriously injured three women in the crosswalk at South Street at Rutgers Slip in Manhattan yesterday, and one of the victims is facing life-threatening injuries. In response, Council Member Margaret Chin called on DOT to study pedestrian safety along this stretch of South Street, where many residents of Chinatown and the Lower East Side cross beneath the FDR Drive to access the East River Esplanade.

DOT says it is conducting a safety review of the intersection, where it installed a traffic light and crosswalks last year. Meanwhile, NYPD says the women were crossing against the signal and that it does not suspect “any criminality” by the driver.

Yesterday at around 6:50 a.m., the three women were in the crosswalk at Rutgers Slip when a 34-year-old woman driving a Volvo northbound on South Street struck them. Two of the victims, age 60 and 67, were seriously injured, while a third, whom NYPD said is in her 70s, sustained life-threatening injuries. All three were taken to Bellevue Hospital.

It’s not known if the driver was distracted when she struck the three women in the road. She is not facing any charges and did not receive a summons for any traffic violations. The Collision Investigation Squad is investigating. ”It appeared the driver had the light,” NYPD’s press office said today. “Nothing here to indicate any criminality.”

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America’s Progress on Street Safety Is Pathetic

The United States was one of the worst performers among developed nations on decreasing traffic fatalities over the last decade. Image: International Transport Forum

Most countries ranked by the International Transport Forum reduced traffic fatalities at least twice as much as the United States between 2000 and 2012. Graph: International Transport Forum (Click to enlarge)

A new report from the International Transport Forum shows America is only falling farther behind all of its peer nations on street safety [PDF].

The traffic fatality rate in the United States (10.7 per 100,000 people) is nearly four times higher than in the United Kingdom (2.8 per 100,000) and close to double that of Canada (5.8). To put that in perspective, if America had the same traffic fatality rate as the U.K., around 25,000 fewer people would be killed every year.

America’s street safety record puts it near the bottom of the ITF’s ranking of 35 countries, far behind most other developed nations.

Image: International Transport Forum

Graph: International Transport Forum (Click to enlarge)

Traffic deaths have generally been declining in America, but not nearly as fast as in other countries. From 2000 to 2012, the U.S. managed to lower traffic death rates just 20 percent. Even Australia, another laggard that ITF grouped among nations with the “least success” reducing traffic deaths, still managed to cut fatalities 28.5 percent. Meanwhile, high performers Denmark, Spain, and Portugal all reduced fatality rates 65 percent or more over the same period.

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DOT: No Plans for Park Avenue Bike Infrastructure After Recent Deaths

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The west side of Park Avenue and 108th Street, facing south. Image: Google Maps

DOT will consider design changes at the Park Avenue intersection in East Harlem where drivers have recently killed three cyclists, but there are no plans for new bike infrastructure along the Park Avenue viaduct.

Livery cab driver Nojeem Odunfa hit cyclist Jerrison Garcia at Park Avenue and E. 108th Street Monday morning, reportedly dragging Garcia 80 feet before stopping. Odunfa was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation and careless driving.

“There’s car accidents here all the time,” a local resident told DNAinfo. ”They drive like this is a highway.”

Park Avenue is divided by a Metro-North viaduct from E. 102nd Street northward. There is car parking on northbound and southbound Park along this 30-block stretch, but no bike lanes. Cyclists on Park must share one through-lane with moving vehicles, and riding on Park or biking across Park entails negotiating intersections with limited visibility.

Jerrison Garcia was the third cyclist killed at 108th and Park since July 2012. Image: I Quant NY

It’s no secret that this segment of Park Avenue is dangerous for people on bikes. Garcia was the third cyclist killed at the E. 108th Street intersection since 2012. There were six additional crashes resulting in cyclist injuries on Park between E. 106th and E. 110th Streets from April to September 2013, according to I Quant NY. Data mapped by Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat show dozens of cyclist injuries along the viaduct, and one death, from 1995 to 2007.

The viaduct area is also hazardous for pedestrians, and a DOT project to make it safer to walk there is underway. In light of recent cyclist deaths and injuries, on Monday we asked DOT if the agency is reviewing conditions at Park and E. 108th, and if bike infrastructure improvements along the viaduct are in the works.

Here is DOT’s reply:

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Jerrison Garcia, 25, Third Cyclist Killed Near Park Ave. Viaduct in Two Years

Cyclists on Park Avenue are sandwiched between the viaduct and parked cars while contending with moving vehicles and intersections with limited visibility. Image: Google Maps

Cyclists on Park Avenue are sandwiched between the viaduct and parked cars while contending with moving vehicles and intersections with limited visibility. Image: Google Maps

Update: Cab driver Nojeem Odunfa of the Bronx was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, careless driving, and a right of way violation, according to NYPD. Odunfa was not immediately charged for killing Jerrison Garcia, and, if past patterns hold, he won’t be. Aggravated unlicensed operation carries nominal penalties and tends to be the default charge against sober unlicensed drivers who kill cyclists and pedestrians in NYC.

For the third time in two years, a driver has killed a cyclist at the same Park Avenue intersection, under the Metro-North viaduct in East Harlem. In addition to recent fatalities, data show that Park Avenue along the viaduct is a hotspot for cyclist injuries.

At around 5:15 this morning, a livery cab driver traveling southbound on Park turned left into Jerrison Garcia, who was also southbound, at E. 108th Street, according to DNAinfo.

Blood stains at the intersection marked the roughly 80 feet that police said Garcia was dragged until the livery cab came to a rest on 108th Street.

Garcia, 25, was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital. The 65-year-old driver, who reportedly works for Glory Car and Limo Service, was taken into police custody. NYPD told Gothamist “it was more than likely he would be charged with driving with a suspended license.”

Park Avenue is divided by the viaduct from E. 102nd Street northward. There is parking on northbound and southbound Park Avenue along this stretch, but there is no designated lane for cyclists, who must share one narrow through-lane with moving vehicles while negotiating intersections with limited visibility.

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The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle violence across the five boroughs. For more on the origins and purpose of this column, please read About the Weekly Carnage.

A cyclist was struck and killed by a private ambulette driver on Irving Avenue in Bushwick. Photo: Google

A man in his sixties was biking at 37th Avenue and Parsons Boulevard in Flushing when a private ambulate driver struck and killed him. Image: Google Maps via Gothamist

Fatal Crashes (2 Killed This Week; 122 This Year*)

  • Flushing: Cyclist Struck by Ambulette Driver; No Charges (DNAGothamistNY1)
  • East Elmhurst: Motorcycle Passenger Killed When Driver Crashes on Grand Central Parkway (DNA)

Injuries, Arrests, and Property Damage

  • Bushwick: Cyclist Struck, Seriously Injured on Irving Avenue (DNA)
  • West Village: Van Driver Critically Injures 22-Year-Old Pedestrian; “No Criminality” (News, DNA)
  • Morris Heights: Five Injured, Including Child, in Cross Bronx Expressway Collision (Post)
  • Far Rockaway: Pedestrian Struck, Seriously Injured; CIS Requested (@NYScanner)
  • Maspeth: Four Injured in Two-Car Crash After Driver Runs Red Near Long Island Expressway (News)
  • East Flatbush: Ambulance Driver Carrying Patient Crashes Into Parked Cars, Flips (Post)
  • Dongan Hills: Driver Slams Through Restaurant Window Trying to Pull Into Parking Spot (Advance)**
  • South Williamsburg: Tractor Crashes Into House at Lee Avenue and Penn Street (@NYScanner)**
  • Stapleton: Two Extricated From Overturned Vehicle (Advance)
  • Park Slope: Driver Attacks Bus Driver With Broken Side View Mirror Following Collision (News)
  • Silver Lake: Off-Duty Firefighter Charged With DWI After Crashing Car Into Bus Stop (Advance)

* Based on latest available reports
** Incident in which a vehicle left the roadway

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NYC Traffic Injuries Down 6.6 Percent in First Half of 2014

Traffic injuries in New York City declined nearly 7 percent in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period last year, according to NYPD data compiled by Streetsblog. Fatalities have also declined slightly, from 121 to 117.

The most significant drop in traffic deaths was among pedestrians, falling from 72 in the first six months of 2013 to 55 this year. Pedestrian injuries, which are less subject to random variation, declined 6.8 percent, nearly the same rate as overall traffic injuries.

While the decline in injuries suggests a tangible improvement in street safety, the precise causes are unclear. The deployment of speed cameras, increased NYPD enforcement of failure-to-yield violations, DOT street redesigns, and the harsh winter are all plausible factors.

The human toll — 24,383 injuries and 117 deaths — remains staggering and points to how much Mayor de Blasio and his commissioners at NYPD, DOT, and the TLC must change to achieve the administration’s Vision Zero goals.

While fewer lives have been lost on NYC streets in 2014 compared to 2013 and 2012, the first six months of 2011 saw fewer fatalities — 102, according to NYC DOT records. (NYPD’s monthly crash reports don’t go back to the beginning of 2011.) With 250 traffic deaths over the course of all 12 months, 2011 was the least deadly year on NYC streets in modern history.

Looking at vulnerable street users, drivers killed 63 pedestrians and cyclists in the first six months of 2014 and injured 7,080, compared to 78 deaths and 7,633 injuries for the same period in 2013. Below are the traffic violence summaries for the month of June, which NYPD recently posted online [PDF].

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The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle violence across the five boroughs. For more on the origins and purpose of this column, please read About the Weekly Carnage.

Times Square: A tour bus driver hit an SUV and another sightseeing bus, then drove onto the sidewalk, toppling a light pole. Eighteen people were injured. No charges were filed. Photo: ##https://twitter.com/FDNY/status/496750617613066240##@FDNY##

Times Square: A tour bus driver hit an SUV and another sightseeing bus, then drove onto the sidewalk, toppling a light pole. Eighteen people were injured. No charges were filed. Photo: @FDNY

Fatal Crashes (14 Killed Since July 18; 120 This Year*)

  • Upper West Side: Valding Duran, 13, Hit by Cab Driver While Riding Bike on July 20, Dies From Injuries; No Charges Filed (West Side Rag 1, 2; News)
  • Springfield Gardens: Frank Korowitz, 62, Hit by Unlicensed Driver on Cross Belt Parkway (News, DNA)
  • Flushing: Agatha Tsunis, 87, Struck Crossing Willets Point Blvd.; No Charges (NewsTL)
  • Bath Beach: Margherita Nanfro, 80, Killed Crossing Street; No Charges (Streetsblog)
  • Forest Hills: 79-Year-Old Woman Struck by Van Driver; No Charges (News)
  • Midwood: Avrohom Mordechai Feldmaus, 89, Struck by Drunk Driver, Dies from Injuries (JP Updates)
  • East Harlem: 44-Year-Old Motorcyclist Struck by Ambulance Driver (WNYC)
  • St. Albans: Motorcyclist Pastor De La Cruz, 45, in Crash With DWI Truck Driver (Post)
  • Astoria: Anthony Boyd, 45, Crashes During Heart Attack; Passengers, Pedestrians Injured (News)
  • Steinway: Balazs Pusztahazi, 39, Crashes Motorcycle Into Parked Cars on Astoria Blvd. (News)
  • Flushing: Driver and Passenger, Both 30, Killed in 100 MPH Crash (News)
  • Oakland Gardens: Andy Ramdhanie, 19, Flips Car on Grand Central Parkway (News, WNYC)
  • Van Cortlandt Village: Driver Killed by Slamming Into Pillar, Sheering Car in Half (News)

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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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NYPD: No Reason to Investigate Greenway Crash That Hospitalized Cyclist

A witness to the aftermath of a Hudson River Greenway crash that sent a cyclist to the hospital says NYPD officers, including personnel from the Collision Investigation Squad, said they did not intend to investigate the cause of the collision, explaining to bystanders that it was an “accident” while blaming the cyclist.

By declining to determine what caused a collision between a bus driver and a greenway cyclist, NYPD failed to take steps that could prevent future injuries. Photo: Hilda Cohen

By declining to determine what caused a collision between a bus driver and a greenway cyclist, NYPD failed to take steps that could prevent future injuries. Photo: Hilda Cohen

Just after 9:30 a.m. last Thursday, July 24, a NY Waterways bus driver and a cyclist collided at the greenway and W. 40th Street, in Hell’s Kitchen. Responders transported the cyclist to Bellevue Hospital in serious condition, FDNY said.

Reader Hilda Cohen, who alerted Streetsblog to the crash, asked officers at the scene if they would impound the bike as evidence. ”Why would we investigate?” an officer said, according to Cohen. “This was clearly an accident.” Cohen told Streetsblog the officer who made those comments was with the Collision Investigation Squad.

While “accident” implies no one was at fault, Cohen said police also preemptively blamed the cyclist. In the comments on our post last week, Cohen wrote: “The attitude was nightmarish, with comments like: ‘A bus isn’t gonna yield to anyone,’ [and] ‘The only reason this happened is because that guy was going too fast on his bike.’” NYPD also told Cohen the cyclist “hit the bus” before he was “dragged under the front wheel.”

The dismissiveness on the part of NYPD in this case is alarming for many reasons. For one thing, had they conducted an investigation, officers might have spoken with cyclists about the conflict between greenway users and turning drivers at the intersection where the crash occurred.

Cohen told Streetsblog via email that she spoke with cyclists, as well as police, at the scene. ”There was really a lot of talk about who was at fault, and sadly the majority figured the cyclist was at fault simply because it was a bus,” she said. “The fact is it is a bad design. Turning vehicles should yield to the path users — it is quite blatant — but the comments from the NYPD were excusing the driver, because it was a bus.”

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No Charges for Motorist Who Killed Senior Margherita Nanfro in Bath Beach

Would daylighting the intersection of Rutherford Place and Bay 16th Street have prevented the crash that killed Margherita Nanfro? With cursory media coverage and NYPD keeping crash reports hidden from view, the public may never know. Image: Google Maps

Would daylighting the intersection of Rutherford Place and Bay 16th Street have prevented the crash that killed Margherita Nanfro? On this and other questions, the public is left to speculate, thanks to scant information available from NYPD. Image: Google Maps

A Brooklyn driver who killed a senior by crashing into her on a neighborhood street in broad daylight was not charged by NYPD, though reports suggest the victim had the right of way.

The 37-year-old motorist drove into Margherita Nanfro as she crossed Rutherford Place at Bay 16th Street in Bath Beach at around 12:20 p.m. on July 25, according to the Home Reporter. The driver, in a Honda sedan, was westbound on Rutherford Place, a single-lane, one-way street lined with residences. Nanfro was pronounced dead at Lutheran Medical Center.

Photos published by Brooklyn Daily indicate Nanfro was struck with enough force to throw her onto the windshield. Photos show the car stopped on Rutherford Place about halfway between Bay 16th Street and 17th Avenue, the next intersection.

Though reports are vague, if Nanfro was crossing Rutherford Place at the intersection, she would have been in an unmarked crosswalk and likely would have had the right of way. Other crucial details are also missing. How, in the middle of the day, did the driver fail to see an 80-year-old crossing the street in front of her? How fast was she going in order to throw the victim onto the hood of the car? Did NYPD crash investigators address these questions? The public doesn’t know, and probably never will unless the crash report is released pursuant to a freedom of information request.

Though several outlets say the NYPD investigation is “ongoing,” the Daily News reported that according to police the driver “did not face criminal charges.”

Beginning next month, it will be a crime for a NYC motorist to strike a pedestrian or cyclist who has the right of way. But unless NYPD makes drastic changes to the way the department approaches crashes, Intro 238 will be another traffic safety law that goes all but unenforced.

This fatal crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Captain William G. Taylor, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 62nd Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the precinct, located at 1925 Bath Avenue. Call 718-236-2501 for information.

The City Council district where Margherita Nanfro was killed is represented by Vincent Gentile. To encourage Gentile to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7363, vgentile@council.nyc.gov or @VGentile43.