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  1.  

    Joe R.

    I recall an instance last year where a cyclist was charged with running three red lights, and given a $1500 fine which the judge upheld. This was for something which was demonstrably harmless as he killed or injured nobody when passing the red lights. Here we have a driver who not only failed to yield as required, but killed someone by his failure to do so. And yet the penalty is half that of a cyclist who hurt nobody.

    I personally don’t care about incarceration in cases like this unless the person is also a danger to society when they’re not driving. The point of incarceration is to protect society from people who are dangerous. If someone is only danger behind the wheel, then the solution is to prevent them from driving. In this case the penalty should have been a lifetime license revocation. Anyone caught driving without a license should have their vehicle seized and auctioned off. The idea is if you kill or seriously injure someone due to negligence, recklessness, or incompetence, your driving days are over, period.

    There could also be financial penalties, although without a source of income it’s difficult to see how all that much would be collected.

    Anyway, I kind of agree here. Legally, it’s much easier to just revoke someone’s driving privileges for good than incarcerate them. It would also have more public support. I feel in the long term it could even help the livable streets movement. Eventually under a set of mandatory license revocation rules a large percentage of the population would never be allowed to drive again. This would be a captive audience for cycling or mass transit. With fewer motor vehicles on the roads, it will be much easier to make them safe for vulnerable users.

  2.  

    Kevin Love

    I agree. Fake progressivism that we do not see applied to any other crime of violence.

    Infrastructure vs. enforcement is not an either/or thing. We can have both.

    Let’s see how ridiculous this becomes when applied to other crimes of violence: suppose that, due to a flimsy lock, a rapist was able to easily break in and attack his victim.

    Are we going to say: “Its an infrastructure issue. Proper locks would have kept the rapist out. No criminality suspected.”

    I think not.

  3.  

    dporpentine

    Criminy. What fake progressivism.

    1) Please explain to me why you think that the killer was (a) an immigrant, (b) economically disempowered (please also show me how that means something other than “poor” dressed up in extra syllables), and (c) dependent solely on driving to survive, without any other outside skills. I’m guessing the answer is: a series of none-too-respectful inferences from his name and his job.

    2) Of what relevance is it, really, that someone is an immigrant? Please explain what other fundamental responsibilities toward your fellow people that essentially exempts you from.

    3) He ran over a living human being–a child, walking hand-in-hand with his father–and claimed he didn’t see him at all. At all. Neither child nor father. This is recklessness of a highly personal, nonstructural sort.

    4) This is just a monumentally condescending, anti-human line: “Focusing on imprisoning an immigrant cab driver pretends he is the problem when he is instead another symptom.” Please walk up to that driver and tell him he’s merely a symptom. I suspect he might not like being utterly dehumanized in that way. Then go to the parents of the kid and say that too. I wouldn’t want to be within a hundred miles when you do.

  4.  

    Alicia

    It’s possible that driving a cab was the best job he could get, but I don’t think that’s relevant. What about the “system” forced him into breaking traffic laws and mowing down a pedestrian? Are you saying that he should be exempt from penalties for breaking traffic laws because he is an immigrant?

  5.  

    Jim

    The blog and many who comment tend to aim at large, structural changes in transportation and infrastructure. The attention to motor vehicles as necessarily violent, and the efforts to restructure roadways and promote cycling and walking, illustrate this. But there’s a contradictory effort that ignores these structural issues when the blog authors so often seek to enact penalties on individuals whose actions result in harm or death, even when those actions were individually accidental and the harm is from something structural–the use of deadly vehicles, the hazardous infrastructure.

    In this case, the cab driver already himself seems to be a victim of the same structures the blog opposes: he seems economically disempowered and dependent on driving a motor vehicle to survive. He has to do this using a flawed infrastructure. The outcomes are tragic.

    These things do not excuse the killing of the child. Rather, I’m suggesting that those on this blog who call for increased individual punishment of people like this cab driver are contradicting the larger interests of the blog. The problem is the system that requires the driver to act as he did, and that protects a flawed infrastructure and violent means of transportation. Focusing on imprisoning an immigrant cab driver pretends he is the problem when he is instead another symptom, as are all of us who drive cars.

  6.  

    Alicia

    but why is the common solution to that (particularly on this site) strengthening criminal penalties?

    He killed someone. Why don’t you think that deserves criminal penalties? It should be treated as manslaughter at best.

    How is sending someone to prison for killing other people “disturbing” to you?

  7.  

    CheshireKitty

    lop: I was thinking about that right turn into Motorgate turnaround. If there’s already a stop around the corner from the current stop, and it’s also under the Motorgate overhang – in Motorgate arcade (so it’s sheltered) – then why bother having the bus stop/turnaround at all? Why not simply fill the turnaround in and make it a plaza – or an extension of the “park” – actually just a giant planting container – in the turnaround island?

    Of course, I know that’s not as convenient as having the bus pull up to the entrance of Motorgate – it adds about a quarter of a block extra walk. But, it eliminates the turn, and may solve the safety issue of the turn. Still, RIOC shouldn’t over-react. As far as I know, there has only been one other fatal accident involving the red bus, and that was before I began living on RI, meaning the safety record of the red buses is remarkable. The collision with the cyclist is really a rarity; do we fill in the turnaround, make things less convenient for Motorgate users, because of the one accident, albeit a horribly tragic accident?

    It does mean that passengers going south would have to cross Main St to catch a S bound bus, if the entire turnaround was eliminated. Then again, that is already the case with catching N or S bound buses anyway throughout the island depending on what building you live in and what direction you wish to ride. If there was a light at the intersection then people catching the red bus at Motorgate going S could safely cross the street. But there is usually so little traffic I wonder if a light there would be installed; I think there are thresholds/standards, there has to be a certain number of cars before a light is installed.

    I read the entire Western Queens Transportation Study earlier. Some things I agree with , some I don’t. The concern of some small businessmen – that the improvements will drive up their rents, I can relate to. I began thinking that this improvement effort may be a nice way to bring gentrification to this (forgotten/gritty) part of Queens; displacement will result. I’m not automatically opposed to streetscape improvements, plantings, and definitely am for anything that will make cycling safer, more places to park bikes, etc. Also, transit links are important. But in general, I’ve long been on the opposite side of rising property values and so forth. I was born in Ft. Greene and lived in Bklyn my entire life, before coming to RI. When I left Bklyn, it, like the rest of NYC, was chaotic. I lived in fear to some extent. Now, I couldn’t go back even if I wanted to, since I could not afford the rent. I don’t know how people afford rents in Bklyn these days. This is the downside of gentrification: Displacement.

    The W Queens Transportation Study considered a N-S transit link from LGA to Downtown Bklyn. How many years has the City/various studies considered a link to LGA? At one point, the 63rd St line was supposed to turn north up 21st and head to LGA. Maybe a grade-level train/light rail is feasible. The proposed ferry extension is a great idea – but why stop at Hallett’s Cove? Why not extend a ferry all the way to LGA – build a dock there, as well!

    So, all I would say is, even though some of the ideas are good, I would still keep some of the “desolation” “light-industrial” “deserted look” of the area if at all possible, so the regular/poor people and small businesses can stay. The great thing about W. Queens is that it is still deserted and unfashionable. You can still park there, and there are still some cheap stores around. I would really prefer to see it remain cheap, frankly. Also, if the rents remain low, it remains an area that startups or artists can afford. If it’s gentrified, then it’s just another neighborhood that the regular folks are priced out of.

    There seems to be a rezoned area near the Con Ed – but I would have to study the map to make sure I got the location right. Near the Con Ed and S of Rainey Park. I wonder what that is about. I hope the City is not giving away part of Rainey Park to developers.

  8.  

    CheshireKitty

    That’s great – I’m going to suggest it on Wednesday. I think this will really enhance the island as a “bikable” neighborhood. Since there’s such a low speed limit cars should not be annoyed. Thanks!

  9.  

    lop

  10.  

    lop

    Bikes should be in the lane, that’s the point. But many have a tendency to ride to the side when the road is wide enough for them to leave the general traffic labe clear. The bus will probably be a bit off the curb to make that right turn if that change is made, leaving room for a bike to pull up next to it just as it starts to turn, the idea would be to make sure to cyclists and motorists where the safe place for bikes to be is – the middle of the lane away from a potential right hook. The goal should be a system not just for the residents of Roosevelt island, but for all cyclists and motorists who might be there to visit. For those visitors it might not be obvious the bus is going to turn until too late. I don’t know if paint will do a good job of directing bikes away from a potential right hook. But maybe.

    In general you are allowed to pass stopped transit buses. But you aren’t allowed to cross a solid double yellow line.

  11.  

    CheshireKitty

    OK, I see what you mean: Since the island speed limit is already so low, why not have bikes actually share the car lanes. Currently, there are no real “bike paths” or “lanes” on RI – bikes can go anywhere except the sidewalks, but the sidewalks blend into the promenade where cycling is allowed. There aren’t too many bike-pedestrian problems although sometimes you hear some complaints (but very rarely).

    The cyclist could proceed with caution around a stopped bus loading and unloading passengers at a bus stop. There was a huge problem with a motorist who received a ticket for driving around a stopped bus on Main St – may have crossed the double yellow line in doing so. Passengers getting off the bus often will cross the street to their buildings; of course, they are all jaywalking in doing so. Cars of course must wait for them to cross the street – if they do drive around the bus, they must do so very cautiously. So far, nothing has ever happened that I know of even though this is a rather chaotic system – it’s tolerated by the local police force. And bikes? Both cars and bikes should stop, and only proceed if safe, considering the passengers streaming off the bus crossing the street at any point. I just don’t know – am not certain – if the law is exactly the same as with school buses. Main St narrows to a 2 lane two-way street, with a double-yellow stripe at Northtown (the portion of the island that was originally redeveloped). There is no pull-in for northbound buses along this section of Main St; cars can only continue on their way if they cross the double yellow line. They must, as explained above, also watch for pedestrians darting across the street from the bus mid-block (not in marked cross-walks). I sometimes walk out of my way from the bus to cross at the cross-walk, but I’m just about the only person I’ve ever seen do that – most will not bother. Imagine if there was a mid-block bus stop on 34 St and passengers did not walk to the cross walk to cross – imagine the chaos that would cause. Actually people do jaywalk on 34 St – here and there – but you usually don’t have masses of them doing so.

    Anyway, thanks for the ideas; I’ll mention them at the upcoming meetings.

  12.  

    KillMoto

    “Professional” drivers making an amateur mistake are indeed idiots.

  13.  

    lop

    If the bus is making a right you don’t want bikes to be next to the bus where they are vulnerable to a right hook, you want then behind the bus. I meant instead of sharrows paint a bike lane in the middle of the car lane to discourage bikes from trying to pass a slowing bus on the right. Since the speed limit is only 15 mph a car ‘stuck’ behind a bike won’t be slowed down much, no reason to put bikes off to the side. A continuous green lane or at least bike lane stripes plus share the road signs might get drivers to better tolerate bikes in front of them and do a better job directing bikes away from a bus right hook than a sharrow would. I don’t know what international best practices in this sort of situation would be.

  14.  

    CheshireKitty

    If you want to accomplish multiple errands quickly, nothing beats a bike. It is definitely faster than walking and more convenient than driving as you can often just chain the bike up anywhere. There is a weight/bulk limit as to how much you can schlep back on a bike, although I used to even carry back Xmas trees on my bike (it is possible to do so). There is a slight risk, if you are overloaded though, of losing control – that almost happened to me once or twice. Of course drivers can be merciless. Using a bike to shop means you may make more trips buying fewer things each time, rather than less trips buying more things using either a shopping cart or driving. But nothing beats the flexibility of cycling. You can stop anytime to pull over and park to relax or read a book on a bench or soak up some rays. You really can’t do that with a car as parking is such a headache usually. Walking is similar but you may take hours walking around, whereas with a bike, travel time is compressed – it is probably faster than cars in a congested urban area. Cycling is ideal in so many ways – the only times cycling is not ideal is either in freezing cold or icy/snowy/rainy weather. Then, except for hardy souls, it may not be entirely practical (although you could still ride wearing a slicker – but you have a increased risk of sliding on oil slicks etc.).

    Yeah, people could bike to Main St – but there’s the red bus, which is free, that goes up and down Main St.

    There isn’t all that much to do on Main St, just a few restaurants, a couple of cafes, a couple of delis, the supermarket, a Chinese take-out, a Duane Reade at the train station. A resident that might want to do anything other than shop or eat at the handful of restaurants/cafes/businesses would need to travel off the island.

    RI in that way is like a tiny “borough” except we do not even have the amenities/variety of cultural experiences of the boroughs. it is rather austere that way. We are always hoping more businesses will locate here – but very few ever do. Also, we lose businesses. We had a fish store and a bakery and they closed. We had a hardware store, but it’s gone. And we had a wonderful (at least to me it was wonderful) and ultra reasonable thrift shop, a project of the Catholic parish on RI, but it closed. There is hardly anything interesting on RI anymore. For example, there is not a single clothing store. At least the former hardware store also used to carry some inexpensive items of clothing (such as you might see at cheap businesses along Steinway) and the thrift shop of course was a bonanza of potential and high-quality finds (considering the revolving door of medical and UN personnel – who would often dispose of unwanted clothing/goods/books when moving off the island). All of that is now vanished.

    We do have Sportspark, though – which has a pool, ping-pong, and various classes such as Zumba, Yoga. There is a tennis bubble – for those that can afford the price to join. There’s a theater group too – where people can sign up for various theater/dance classes, which also stages a series of theatrical productions annually. It is somewhat pricey. There are senior and disabled associations – that offer programs. Programs are offered at the library. But there is no community center (something like a settlement house) per se that would offer let’s say a variety of programs that might be of interest to the entire population. And the tiny number of types of classes at Sports park are not analogous to the often many different sorts of classes offered at municipal recreational centers. There is however also hoops at Sports Park – maybe there are other organized sports there as well.

    RI is pretty much a bedroom community – the big advantage is the nice views, the lack of traffic, the safety – since we have our own security force in addition to a patrol from the 114th Pct in Queens, the fact that we are only 4 minutes away from Mid-town via tram, and one stop away via train. But really, there is not much going on otherwise, unfortunately. The typical pattern is folks going to work, going home, going to the City/off-island for recreation/cultural opportunities. There are very few things happening on RI itself, which is why, for cyclists, the bike link to Queens is so important: Interesting areas like LIC, Greenpoint, and even W-burg, are only a few minutes away via bike, as well as the recreational opportunities at parks such as Astoria or McCarran Parks (or just the trees/greenery). The ride to the City is a longer ride, of course – but not really that far. It’s too bad the elevator to the Queensboro bridge was done away with after the RI Bridge was constructed in 1955 – that’s another loss that sort of “sealed” the “isolation” of RI.

  15.  

    murphstahoe

  16.  

    R

    Unless, say, you need to go to or do anything on Main Street.

  17.  

    CheshireKitty

    Yes – that could be a very simple/elegant solution. Currently, passengers are picked on at Motorgate on Southbound red bus trips, the assumption being that they are heading to mass transit. There are two additional stops in the Motorgate area, though: One across the street a bit north of the turnaround – also southbound – and one just around the corner from the turnaround, a northbound stop. You could, as you say, have the northbound bus make a right into Motorgate and pick up those passengers going northbound; the southbound passengers would need to wait across the street at the existing southbound stop (however, I’m not sure there is seating/shelter at that stop – whereas the existing stop at Motorgate has 2 benches, is under the bridge deck). Some will complain that they may not want to walk across the street to the bus stop from Motorgate, and indeed, it will be less convenient/seamless – plus they will need to leave the shelter of the bridge deck/covered walkways and cross the street which means they will be exposed to the elements momentarily. However, a left turn for a bus is not a great idea; maybe this left turn should be eliminated – by having the bus pick up passengers at Motorgate going north, instead of south.

    Re the bike lane: Do you mean a 2-way bike lane in the middle of the road? That’s quite an idea – but why not? Do these sorts of bike lanes exist in some areas of the City? I’m used to bike lanes to the right of traffic – or in a dedicated lane (replacement of parking lane & so forth).

    Yes. I think the motorcycle accident I witnessed which occurred under the McDonald Ave El may have occurred as a result of the poor lighting. Certainly the driver was only crawling through the intersection. He probably never saw the motorcyclist and his female passenger – who went flying.

    Shouldn’t the city implement the changeover to LEDs asap as they save energy/money? Or are the bulbs themselves costly and that’s why they are slow in changing them over (changing the light-bulbs). Yes – additional fixtures should be added beneath els. Another bad one is the N El in Astoria. It’s a similar problem at Motorgate as the deck puts a large area including the turnaround into perpetual shadow – plus the helix ramp exit is in shadow. Lighting has been improved in the area right beneath the deck recently, though, but the street lighting hasn’t been upgraded. The street lighting fixtures are the “quaint” park-like fixtures you see in parks – they are pretty but I’m not sure if they are most appropriate for the streets. Ironically, and sadly, there is an anti-crime mobile lighting unit positioned on the turnaround island just at the point, or nearly at the point, where the accident occurred, but I’m not sure it was on the night of the accident. The lighting is supposed to deter drug deals from being conducted across the street from Motorgate – an area known for drug dealing (from cars mostly).

  18.  

    walks bikes drives

    And what do you think the result should be?

    If you kill someone, you are not allowed to legally drive anymore? So what? Now I’ll just drive illegally. Oh wait, plenty of drivers kill someone while driving with no license or a suspended license. What other possible penalty should there be for taking someone’s life other than incarceration? Half of the things we incarcerate people for are bullshit, but here is one thing that is legit. We’re not talking about saying you should go to jail because you could have killed someone, we’re saying you should go to jail because you DID kill someone.

  19.  

    Cold Shoaler

    Bull shit. That charge is bull shit.

  20.  

    lop

    Doesn’t the bus loop around on the street? Why not have it turn right into the garage instead? Seems simpler. Speed limit is 15 mph on the road right? Paint a solid bike lane in the middle, telling bikes to stay there, add a sign on the bus saying not to pass on the right when it’s turning.

    Plenty of places in the city have very poor lighting, not just because sodium lights are dim. They need to add fixtures under a lot of Els for instance.

  21.  

    CheshireKitty

    The bottom line is, if the driver had not started making the left, the cyclist would not have crashed into him/he would not have crashed into the cyclist – since they would have both been in their respective lanes, instead of the driver turning momentarily into her (the north-bound) lane in order to turn. Had he not crossed her path, she would have not crashed into him/he would not have crashed into her. And so, the accident must have occurred somehow because the driver made the left. Many different scenarios are possible – even the possibility that she hit him because she couldn’t stop, or thought she could outrun him. We just don’t know. The only thing we can say with certainty though is that unless she swerved to hit him and they were both in their own lanes, not turning (which can happen if a driver loses control or focus on driving straight down the road) then the reason the collision occurred is because the driver made the turn, either miscalculated how fast the bike was coming along, or thought she would stop, or didn’t see her.

  22.  

    CheshireKitty

    Yes, the overwhelming majority of those making lefts into Motorgate are the red buses although occasionally you do see cars turning in there, but yes, it is rare that it’s anything other than the red buses. An on demand left turn signal sounds like a great idea – it would be operated by wifi from the bus?

    I’m not sure who is in charge of the street lights on RI – it may not be NYC, Joe. RIOC may be responsible for them. If you are interested, there’s a Manhattan CB8 meeting on the 22nd which will discuss the W. Queens Transportation Study/bike crash as well as a community meeting later the same night covering Study, the crash, etc.

    Here is the info on the CB8 meeting:

    The City of New York

    Manhattan Community Board 8

    Roosevelt Island Committee

    Manhattan Park

    Community Room

    4 River Road

    Roosevelt Island, NY

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    6:30PM

    1. Presentation
    by Department of City Planning of its recommendations for the Western Queens
    Transportation Study which includes the Roosevelt Island Bridge — Joint
    issue with the Transportation Committee

    2. Update on
    weekend subway diversions

    3. Old Business

    4. New business

    Jeffrey Escobar and Laurence Parnes, Co-Chairs

  23.  

    dporpentine

    I can’t believe you have to explain this to this person . . .

  24.  

    Aunt Bike

    I think the writer of the article is bringing attention to the fact that the penalty for carelessly running someone over and killing them is rather lenient.

  25.  

    dporpentine

    Is there a single method of killing a child other than murder-by-car that you would argue should be treated as oops-you-get-a-do-over?

    Seriously, I’m given the task of transporting a bag of anthrax and rushing to get it to the next lab I dose a child with it. The child dies.

    For fun, let’s say this is a child you care about.

    When I lose my official anthrax-carrier license and possibly as much as $750 (7!5!0! dollars!), do you really think, “Justice! Sweet, sweet justice!”?

    And keep in mind: it’s almost certain that’s every single thing that will happen as a result. There won’t be a halfway meaningful civil penalty. It’ll just be that.

    Remember: a child is dead, a child you (in this scenario) care about, and you’re really going to pretend that you’d be satisfied by $750 and a very slight narrowing of the killer’s employment prospects?

  26.  

    JudenChino

    Huh? They’re not advocating stop and frisk and jail time for possession of marihuana. If you negligently kill a kid you should get jail time. I really don’t see the problem. If you leave your loaded gun around and your kid picks it up and blows the pizza delivery mans head off, you
    should get jail time.

    If you see a bunch of oily rags and you flick your cigarette onto it causing a fire which results in people dying, you should go to jail for it.

    I don’t understand this fucked up notion of driver’s privilege. A bicyclist got over $1K in fines for slow rolling through 3 reds in a row in Williamsburg when it was safe to proceed. But to apply actual penalties to drivers, we have to walk around on our tippy toes, so as not to offend? Fuck that shit.

    Fear of jail time will go along way towards reforming driver’s behavior. This shit is basic. Take the guy who ran over the woman crossing the street at Kenmare at 4am. http://www.streetsblog.org/2014/09/26/no-charges-for-van-driver-who-killed-elderly-woman-in-crosswalk/ I bet he was just groggy and didn’t see the old lady in front of him when the light changed. If he knew that he could potentially go to jail for 1-3 years (or 3-5?, IDK, local pols are pushing hard for a misdeamoner and light fine), he probably would’ve paid closer attention.

    You see, people in cars (including myself from time to time), tend to be in a hurry and getting to X on time (or trying to not be late as they are) tends to be the priority. If they’d realize, that they’re in a machine that’s great for killing pedestrians/cyclists, and that such killing machine could land them jail time, that fear of jail time might temper their desire to get to X ASAP.

    This is fucking criminal: http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/04/26/mike-rogalle-killed-by-curb-jumping-driver-in-manhattan-no-charges-filed/

    Why aren’t cops hauling those people to jail? Why is it that OWS gets 100s of cops but driving like a madman in narrow/dense FiDi gets you no punishment, when you kill someone? These people are criminals. They just might not always “look” like how we expect criminals to look.

    ***

    This is rich:

    I understand the need to strip the impunity from driving and to make drivers aware of the privilege and responsibility of motor vehicle operation, but why is the common solution to that (particularly on this site) strengthening criminal penalties? It says that TLC did not renew his hack license and his drivers license is suspended pending further review. Why not fight for a stronger ability to suspend drivers licenses and stricter DMV regulations and education?

    Anyone see the logical fallacy here? Fighting for suspended licenses? Sometimes, they’re already on a suspended licences. A probationary hack license suspended pending further review?

    If I kill a kid while driving and it’s my fault and the worst is a suspended license, then yes, I’m effectively driving with impunity.

  27.  

    Joe R.

    An on demand left turn signal activated by the bus driver might be what is needed here. I’m gathering that at this location buses are the main user making left turns, so it’s an infrequent occurrence. Cyclists are highly likely to observe traffic signals if they’re designed in such a way as to only go red when something is actually crossing.

    Yes, better lighting is always a good thing. That will probably be done anyway as NYC transitions to LED streetlights. The current plan is to have the transition completed citiwide by 2017. Perhaps problematic areas should get improved lighting well before then.

  28.  

    CheshireKitty

    Excuse me – I don’t want to be the “devil’s advocate” here. But, there are plenty of times when driving down the street, some (jerk) is not going to yield (or not yield enough, allow oncoming traffic to become light enough) and makes a left, causing me, who has the right of way, to either slow down or stop to avoid hitting him. I do have the right of way, but I don’t want to crash into him, even if he is being a jerk and acting like he owns the road and doesn’t need to observe the right-of-way rule. This unfortunately happens all the time. There are not always dedicated left turn lanes/signals and the motorist turning left has to use judgment, assess the speed /distance of oncoming traffic, and also not crash into pedestrians crossing the street. In other words, he has to speed up to avoid oncoming traffic but then slow down to avoid hitting the pedestrians in the cross-walk and hope that the oncoming traffic then doesn’t hit him as he yields to the pedestrians crossing the street. The main thing is to avoid (a) getting hit by oncoming traffic (b) oncoming traffic must also – out of common sense – accommodate the driver making the left, even if he is violating (possibly only somewhat – since the judgment of when to turn can be variable) the right-of-way rule (c) hitting the pedestrians at all costs. Judgment and common sense dictate that drivers slow down or stop to avoid hitting other cars/pedestrians/cyclists – but also, cyclists use common sense to avoid hitting other cyclists/cars/pedestrians. I’m not saying the cyclist was in the wrong, but none of us – drivers, cyclists, and of course pedestrians – can “assume” all other road users will strictly observe the right-of-way rule,or observe it to the degree we would.

    We don’t know exactly what happened that night at that intersection. It is a poorly-lit area, and the intersection is unsignalized. These are certainly clues to what might have happened.

    The driver was making the turn. If the cyclist did not have front and rear lights on her bike (I’m not saying she didn’t, I’m just saying this as an example or reason why she might not have been highly visible) or wearing a vest, or even had fluorescent tape on the bike, or reflectors on the fender(s), she may very well have blended into the background. Maybe she wasn’t highly visible – we just don’t know. The driver scanned the road for oncoming traffic and likely didn’t see her coming along. He makes his left, keeping his eyes glued to the narrow roadway he must turn into which has its own hazards since his vehicle actually overhangs the sidewalk and can hit pedestrians if they are walking by the curb as it makes the turn, and suddenly, there is a cyclist in front of his vehicle. Either she barely misses him or he barely misses her – somehow, either way, she collides or is hit by his front drivers side bumper, and crashes into the sidewalk. Highly tragically for her, she crashes with such force that she is finished then and there from the impact of the crash. There is no equivalent to air-bags or seat-belt for a bike – just helmets – and unfortunately she wasn’t wearing one. Thus, the brunt of any accident is borne by one’s body for a cyclist – thus, it doesn’t take much for a bicycle accident to become a tragedy. I don’t understand why if, in NYS, helmets are mandatory for both riders and passengers (https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/children/toolkits/motorcycles/motorcycle_helmets.htm) the same should not be the case for cyclists state-wide? Of course – even helmets can only go so far in saving lives of operators of 2-wheel motorized vehicles or cyclists. I once saw 2 people die in a motorcycle crash – also from hitting/getting hit by a car making a left. It was on McDonald Avenue – under the trestle (elevated F train tracks) – at night; the driver may not have seen the motorcycle coming along and there are a lot of shadows from the trestle posts. Speeding was not a factor, although the bike of course was travelling faster than the car which was slowly crawling through the intersection. Either they didn’t see each other, or each thought the other would yield. Result: Another tragedy. BTW: This was a signalized intersection. I was at the bus-stop waiting for a bus to Boro Park and witnessed the accident right on the corner. I believe this was the “H” bus – although it was so long ago. The driver making the left either didn’t see or judge correctly how fast the bike was approaching the intersection; the bike in turn evidently didn’t or couldn’t slow down/stop, swerve or otherwise avoid the car (the steel trestle posts also could not have “helped” since swerving might have meant crashing into a post).

    How could the accident on RI have been prevented? First, and most importantly, much more lighting needs to be installed at that intersection. Also, even though cyclists many times do not observe lights, the intersection must be signalized, so that the “you go first, no, I’ll go first” “negotiation” at the corner, should two vehicles reach it simultaneously, can be eliminated, along with the possibility of collisions if each vehicle decides to proceed simultaneously (“signals are crossed”). There could be dedicated left-turn signal – since the accident could have occurred even if the corner was signalized. Also, at night, with poor lighting, you cannot even make eye contact with the oncoming driver/cyclist to reach an :”agreement” or see them nod or wave along who will go first (yield). All these variables can be eliminated (or mostly eliminated) with better lighting and a traffic signal that includes a left-turn signal (holding oncoming traffic as the driver making the left finishes his turn).

  29.  

    cmu

    Would someone cognizant of the law explain to this layman why he was not charged with, say vehicular manslaughter? Obviously anyone in a ped. crossing has the right of way, so hitting a ped, far from killing them, should be a criminal offense. Is this a peculiarity of NY law? I believe in CA there are much more stringent laws. I certainly know that in most of Europe, a driver hitting a ped. in any way is held maximally reponsible. How can we get the laws changed here if that’s what it takes?

  30.  

    Joe R.

    You can certainly pave or concrete over metal gratings. They did it on the Queensboro Bridge. I think the original reason for the metal gratings, as opposed to concrete, was weight. The designers may have been ultraconservative keeping weight down.

    Off hours are when I make bike trips anyway. It’s much easier for me to make the journey down that way on a late Sunday afternoon or evening than during a weekday.

    I don’t care about speedways if we’re talking last mile solutions. Access and safety is more important in that case than designing so people in velomobiles can max out their speeds.

    For the multipurpose escalators, it’s probably something like this:

    http://chrispolleysfollies.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/random-jeju-011.jpg

    You also have these to help cyclists up very steep grades:

    http://www.supercompressor.com/gear/norway-has-invented-the-trampe-cyclocable-bike-escalator

  31.  

    lop

    http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2014_10_western_queens_transportation_study.pdf

    Start page 44. Not sure exactly what the multipurpose escalator will look like, but the new design might be better. Looks from the drawing like the bridge bike path is paved. Is that feasible to add to the metal grating? Some parts of other grated bridges have some concrete. Thinking specifically of the metropolitan avenue bridge.

    Not the speedway you would want, but if you see this more as a last mile solution it seems adequate. Biking the helix down hill is fine, hopefully there will be a sharrow indicating to all that bikes are allowed there. Uphill is bad because the grade and turn keeps bikes very slow. So at least having a better car free route as an option will make it more inviting to cyclists

    It is a nice place to bike to. There’s a little lighthouse at the north end, good views all over. If you go at a bit of an off hour there are some places to eat outside where you can watch your bike. I like nonno’s pizza. I said off hour because the corral isn’t right there, but if it’s mostly empty they’ve never complained when I roll my bike to a table outside.

  32.  

    JK

    Maybe it is time for Polly Trottenberg, DOT and the local livable streets movement to
    rediscover the community organizing potential of Safe Streets to School — which NYC
    pioneered in the US.

    In late 1990′s pedestrian safety advocates in the Bronx had the same challenge “engaging” neighborhoods that Polly Trottenberg and DOT have now in neighborhoods like Brownsville. The answer then was to create the Bronx Safe Routes to School, which was very popular with parents, kids, principals and local elected officials. The Bronx SRTS led to the DOT’s citywide program that is still building pedestrian safety improvements. But along the way Safe Routes stopped being a tool for community organizing and became a consultant driven, planning process. Interestingly, Safe Routes to School was brought to the Bronx from Denmark — much like Vision Zero came from Sweden. The difference is that Safe Routes to Schools is explicitly a neighborhood based organizing and consensus building process, while Vision Zero is a policy framework. In other words, Safe Routes to School can be the way to start the conversation about Vision Zero in socially marginalized neighborhoods.

  33.  

    qrt145

    Maybe the driver didn’t mean not to yield, and maybe the driver didn’t see her, but the driver failed to yield nevertheless. The proof is the fact that they crashed. Mental state is not part of the question, because failure to yield is a traffic rule.

  34.  

    Maggie

    I’m not a lawyer, but: this driver killed a kid. A woman was sentenced to three months in jail for elbowing a cop at an Occupy Wall Street protest, on the same week earlier this spring that Cy Vance announced he wasn’t going to charge this driver – who killed a kid – with anything. The lack of parity here seems so ridiculous and socially detrimental.

    I don’t see people arguing for leniency or less jail time than two consecutive life sentences for the allegedly psychotic nanny who allegedly killed two kids on the UWS in 2012. Killing a kid is not like smoking pot, or paying your taxes late, or selling loose cigarettes. It’s killing a kid. This is just my view, and I’m sensitive to the need for fair sentencing and well-run penal systems. But I think meaningful jail time is warranted.

  35.  

    RooseveltIslander

    It’s possible that the Driver yielded but did not see the bicyclist in the dark. I am not saying that happened just asking if NYPD has reached any conclusions. My understanding is they have not.

  36.  

    CheshireKitty

    I have lived on RI for many years, and gave up riding since then. Probably the lack of exercise will cost me my life one day. I used to live in Brooklyn, which, although it had its own hazards to cyclists, didn’t pose the problems RI poses. Not at all. Yes – better connections to Queens are definitely needed, both for RI residents and visitors.

    The island was very convenient for me as I was employed at an UES hospital – by the time I was living here, the train was in place, in addition to the tram. You are correct that initially there was only the bus to Queens Plaza available to convey residents to mass transit. As I was living in Boro Park prior to living on RI, I could easily spend well over an hour commuting each way on 3 trains plus extended walks to and from train stations. Trains would regularly break down or be delayed back then. A good part of my life was spent on my commute – but I had to keep the job as jobs were scarce then (just after the ’87 crash http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Monday_(1987)). Thus, even with the drawbacks RI was a good deal. I really missed tooling around Brooklyn on my bike, though. The area near RI in Queens is rather industrial/desolate – that was another reason I wasn’t anxious to start riding around in it. Also, I’m not from Queens and the first few years, everything seemed “alien” – I didn’t understand these neighborhoods as I knew Brooklyn. And so, my life was mostly about hopping back and forth to work in the UES, and activities mostly in Manhattan.

  37.  

    qrt145

    Left-turning vehicles never have the right of way over oncoming traffic unless they have a green arrow, and there isn’t one where the crash occurred.

  38.  

    Maggie

    Also: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/elderly-couple-struck-crossing-brooklyn-street-article-1.1968536

    and https://twitter.com/nyscanner/status/521419967896764416

    Two bad crashes, a couple days and ten blocks apart on Surf Ave. I wasn’t sure if there’s more coverage.

  39.  

    RooseveltIslander

    Are you sure it has been confirmed that the bus driver failed to yield to the bicyclist as stated in your article?

    My understanding is that vital fact is still being investigated by NYPD.

    More info for those interested

    http://rooseveltislander.blogspot.com/2014/10/update-on-roosevelt-island-resident.html

  40.  

    Nathan

    The tone of this article is disturbing to me. It seems like the author would be happy if the driver was thrown in jail for a long time? I understand the need to strip the impunity from driving and to make drivers aware of the privilege and responsibilty of motor vehicle operation, but why is the common solution to that (particularly on this site) strengthening criminal penalties? It says that TLC did not renew his hack license and his drivers license is suspended pending further review. Why not fight for a stronger ability to suspend drivers licenses and stricter DMV regulations and education? I know it’s a much more difficult fight at the state level, but prison is not the answer. The livable/safe streets movement has enough trouble appealing beyond the white professional/creative class bubble and often aligns itself (by design or proxy) with the worst kind of gentrifiers — actively vouching for a strengthened carceral state is not helping your cause.

  41.  

    YetAnotherRIer

    But for that the island is already perfect enough. You can ride the bike safely right by the water, avoiding all car traffic on Main Street. The point is that there is not enough reason to actually do so.

  42.  

    Joe R.

    I think better connections to RI for bikes will also benefit those who don’t live on the island. RI seems like a nice occasional place to ride to, but with the impediments you mention it’s not on my agenda. With better connections we all win. People who live on the island have easy access to points of interest or shopping off the island. Those who live elsewhere can visit-either for recreation, or to see friends who live there.

    Interestingly, back in the 1970s when it was being developed my parents looked at some apartments on Roosevelt Island. In the end they decided to stay in Queens precisely because the connections to the rest of the city weren’t all that great. As you probably recall, there wasn’t even a subway stop at the time.

  43.  

    CheshireKitty

    Joe: You are so right. The problem is the impediments to cycling on/off the island, such as the helix ramp which has limited sight distance the entire way and is therefore hazardous to driver/cyclist alike, the smallish elevators to the bridge deck level at Motorgate, which make it impossible to load a cyclist/bike + even 1 passenger + shopping cart, as the bike has to fit in diagonally (yes, the elevators are that small) or vertically maybe, or the cyclist must carry their bike up the stairs at Motorgate to the bridge level. No – I would not want to be a cyclist on RI under the circumstances, since it is either dangerous to use the helix ramp, or you have to be a body-builder to carry your bike up and down stairs, or constantly inconvenience other passengers on the Motorgate elevator if you want to use that means of reaching the bridge deck level. You will then need to traverse the bridge and in so doing put your life in danger as the metal grating of the bike path is unsafe, unless you walk your bike along the pedestrian foot-path. Note: The only safe way for cyclists to leave RI is to (a) carry their bikes up the stairs at Motorgate or squeeze into the elevator (b) walk over the bridge on the pedestrian footpath. Note that the entire safe means off the island – does not involve cycling! This is why RI is not a bike-friendly locality.

    Obviously, Motorgate/ramp/bridge was not planned to accommodate the cycling public: Not only am I categorically opposed to the metal grating of the bike path on the bridge – because it’s absolutely unsafe for bikes especially when slick, it’s also unsafe for 2-wheel motorized vehicles in the rain/inclement weather. Even cars slip a bit on the metal bridge deck in the rain. Why should any of these users of the road have to risk their lives getting off RI?

  44.  

    Greg

    I felt compelled to comment in the constructive hope of possibly elevating the integrity of our communication going forward.

    I disagree that all truck drivers who crash into overpasses due to height limits are “idiots”, even with posted signs. They are obviously unambiguously liable for their incorrect actions and their consequences. It’s a much larger statement to judge their entire character as human beings,and one that I don’t believe adds constructive value to the discussion or helps with the safety concerns we all have.

    I personally like it most when Streetsblog, while remaining impassioned and assertive, attempts to stay above the fray.

  45.  

    Joe R.

    I’m fine making streets more comfortable to bike on as that helps people riding over any distance, be it 1/2 mile or 25 miles. I’m simply giving a logical reason for why not all that many people choose to bike on Roosevelt Island-namely that most trips seem quite amenable to walking.

    You might want to read this and rethink your “most people start looking for other options around the 1/4 mile mark” asumption:

    http://www.city-data.com/forum/new-york-city/1931867-what-do-you-consider-walking-distance.html

    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/how_far_will_we_walk_to_someth.html

    People used to walk up to 3 miles each way to their jobs before mechanized transportation became common. Human physiology hasn’t changed much in 100 years. Basic fitness levels certainly have though.

    Interestingly, the plans to expand the subway system pre-WWII would have put most of NYC within 1 mile of a subway stop precisely because that distance was considered the upper bounds of what most people could easily walk.

  46.  

    CheshireKitty

    I agree. There are real problems/obstacles to bicycling. Better/safer bike paths need to be installed on the bridge for one thing – and maybe a dedicated ramp to the bridge deck so that bikes do not have to use the helix ramp. The ride around the island is brief – although scenic. The problem is getting on/off the island: You could use the train to get to the City – that’s a hassle as well, considering the multiple escalators, on which, if I am not mistaken, bikes are not allowed. Thus, you might be faced with the daunting prospect of about 3 flights of stairs (including some long flights) with the bike if the elevator – which is rather small – is down. Plus, the vast majority of cyclists do not use the trains since they have their own transportation (bikes). The tram is an option to get to Manhattan quickly – but that too is invariably crowded, and if I’m not mistaken, non-cycling passengers are prioritized ahead of cyclists (although if there is such a “rule” I’m not sure it’s “enforced” or even followed) given the space constraints. The City should focus on improving bike paths to the 59 St Bridge, or possibly implementing a ferry stop at RI.

  47.  

    ladyfleur

    Why are you so quick to dismiss why someone might want to take a bike instead of walk? Your choices are not everyone’s choices. What’s your concern with making the streets more comfortable for people who want to ride a bike?

  48.  

    Joe R.

    I think in terms of time. In the most extreme case where I live (0.65 miles), the round trip walking takes me about 18 minutes. Biking would take about 5 to 7 minutes round trip, depending upon whether or not I get stuck at one or both traffic signals along the way. Add about a minute to chain/unchain my bike. As I would have to chain it to the fence in the parking lot, I would need to walk a minute or so each way to the store. Overall then biking would take me 8 to 11 minutes, compared to 18 minutes walking. My schedule isn’t so packed that saving 7 to 10 minutes matters. Besides that, walking is a good complementary exercise to riding. Most health professionals recommend walking 6 miles a day. I rarely walk that much, but typically I walk at least 2 miles. An advantage of walking over biking is that it’s much easier to stop in multiple stores when running errands. No need to chain/unchain a bike a bunch of times.

    There’s also the issue of what happens if my bike gets stolen (a very real possibility here but maybe not where you live). If it does, then the number of hours I need to work to pay for a new one eats up whatever time I’ve saved.

    I really think with better connections to places off the island cycling on Roosevelt Island could increase dramatically.

    You may choose to walk instead of bike for distances up to 1.5 miles, but most people start looking for other options around the 1/4 mile mark.

    A lot of that depends upon age and general fitness level. In general, I think most people will look at other modes if they can’t walk somewhere in 10-15 minutes. A really slow walker might only be able to cover 1/4 mile in 15 minutes. An average walker can cover maybe 3/4 mile. Faster walkers can cover well over a mile.

  49.  

    Bolwerk

    Hurr, no, I was born yesterday and never saw a suburban mall rendering before. Is this myopia a joke? It’s well and good if you like this sort of thing, but I don’t see the point in denying the message if you do. You’re right about one thing: it’s pretty standard fare. This is architecture and social engineering though, so style is pretty damn substantive.

    Remember: this isn’t just another industrial reclamation or a single new development complex like most of these kind of renderings. This is an actual neighborhood with people already living in it so it’d be nice if they’d show a little more regard for what and who is already there.

  50.  

    ladyfleur

    My grocery store is 1/2 mile away and you can sure bet I ride my bike there. I can carry 40 pounds on my bike much easier than I can walk with it. And if I had to take kids to school a mile away we certainly would ride, not walk there.

    You may choose to walk instead of bike for distances up to 1.5 miles, but most people start looking for other options around the 1/4 mile mark.