What We Don’t Know About the Crash That Killed Aileen Chen

Here are a dozen questions pertaining to the crash that took the life of 16-year-old Stuyvesant H.S. student Aileen Chen as she rode her bicycle last Saturday a block from her home in Borough Park at around 6 p.m.

Twenty-First Ave. and 62nd St., Borough Park, Brooklyn: What happened here? Image: Google Maps
  1. How fast was the BMW traveling when Aileen and her bicycle first came into view?
  2. How fast was the driver going when he struck her?
  3. How far from the point of first impact did Aileen’s body come to rest?
  4. Was the 26-year-old driver alone, or were there others in the car?
  5. Was she hurrying for some reason, or distracted?
  6. Has the driver’s smartphone been impounded and checked to see if she was phoning or texting at the time of the crash?
  7. Is the area of Borough Park in which the crash took place residential, as it appears from an Internet view?
  8. How long and far from the collision might a driver who had been visually scanning the road have seen Aileen?
  9. Which party was traveling on 21st Avenue, which appears wider and perhaps more prone to fast driving than the cross street, 62nd Street?
  10. Does the driver have a record of moving violations?
  11. Whose testimony was the basis of the NYPD statement that Aileen ran a red light?
  12. Did anyone other than the driver witness the crash? Has the NYPD taken their evidence?

Every one of these questions is answerable, although none were answered in the press accounts, which nevertheless drip with the customary “victim guilty, case closed” quality of articles about bicyclist fatalities. All of these questions, I submit, are relevant to finding fault — a process that, though painful, is essential, as it is in every serious-injury or fatal traffic crash, to the arduous task of reforming traffic engineering, enforcement, jurisprudence and behavior.

The foundation of any meaningful investigation of the crash that killed Aileen is found in the first three questions. Driving faster than 30 mph on ordinary streets such as the two that intersected here is both prohibited by law and a statistical separator between surviving being struck by a car, and not. Higher driving speeds also increase crash likelihood by making visual scanning less effective, shortening drivers’ reaction-time window, lengthening stopping distance, and impeding detection of the vehicle by other road users.

Presumably the NYPD Accident Investigation Squad, the unit charged with analyzing fatal crashes in NYC, has by now measured skid marks, other road markings, damage to the BMW and bicycle, and the locations where Aileen and her clothing, iPod, etc. came to rest. From these metrics, the AIS may have already calculated, at least approximately, the driver’s speeds prior to and during the collision. Yet there is almost zero chance that these data from Aileen’s crash will enter the public record. The NYPD guards AIS reports virtually as state secrets. In 2000, when my organization Right Of Way was researching our “Only Good Cyclist” report on fatal NYC auto-cyclist crashes [PDF], prying loose AIS reports for a mere 14 crashes required multiple iterations of our Freedom of Information request, plus a dozen subsequent calls and letters. Several similar requests proffered later were rejected.

Questions 4 and 5 go to the driver’s state of mind and, while purely circumstantial, may suggest a possible motive to speed or otherwise drive carelessly. Though neither hands-free phoning nor texting while driving is illegal in New York State (the latter is a secondary not primary driving offense), the driver’s quality of attention is still a critical parameter, which justifies Question 6.

Question 7 draws on the legal obligation of drivers to observe a standard of due care. (Section 1146 of the State Vehicle & Traffic Law directs “Drivers [to] exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, pedestrian or domestic animal upon any roadway.”) By law, then, operating a motor vehicle in a residential neighborhood requires being on alert for people walking, running, playing, cycling, etc. Question 8, another for the Accident Investigation Squad, seeks to determine if a lawful driver (speed limit, due care, etc.) could have averted striking a cyclist who had ridden through a red light.

Questions 9 and 10 return to the subject of the driver’s cognition and conduct, while questions 11 and 12 seek to address the vexing and perhaps unresolvable issue: Who had a green light and who ran a red — Aileen or the driver? I suspect that this question will never be settled. Self-interest requires the driver to claim that he had right of way. And while any eyewitnesses should be tracked down and interviewed, bystander accounts aren’t always reliable, and it’s not unreasonable to worry that cultural biases about drivers and bicyclists could inadvertently color their accounts. At the least, though, if the only reported account is the driver’s, its bias should be acknowledged and its testimony disregarded.

No answers will bring back Aileen, whose tragically abbreviated life was so vibrant and promising. But determining the circumstances of her fatal crash as definitively as possible is important to the public discourse and, ultimately, public policy, that determines whether our streets will be dangerous or livable. Between the Post’s “Tragic teen struck and killed was biking against light: cops” and an alternative headline, “Joyrider in BMW was speeding when he rammed teen on bike,” lies a world of difference. For now, we don’t know which applies. Without data that the NYPD may have but won’t give out, we probably never will.

  • Actually, Eric, I wouldn’t say Jewish people in Boro Park think they own everything. But I do think that Hasidic people – whether they’re pedestrians, drivers or cyclists – are some of the most reckless, lawless and downright insane users of the road I’ve ever seen. Seriously, mothers pushing baby carriages out into the road without even looking at what’s coming insane. There are plenty of stupid drivers and cyclists and peds in NYC but going into Hasidic neighborhoods is like entering the wild west of traffic. The only place that’s as bad is probably Chinatown.

    An additional problem is the a war on cyclists in Williamsburg – a woman cyclist was recently told by a Jewish driver that he’d love to run her over and kill her when she told him his driving put her in danger. This kind of frothing at the mouth hatred by one group for another is absolutely appalling. That it’s coming from a Jewish person, with their historical experience as an oppressed and hated group, just makes it all the more depressing.

  • carma

    Suzanne, in many ways you are right. Now i hate to generalize.  but the hasidim jews ARE some of the worst drivers you can imagine.  (a sub-division of the general jewish population)
    so many of them are holding some blackberry, spaced out, praying (im not kidding), riding two lanes, running red lights while driving.have you ever seen the cars they are driving.  brand new minivans, but there is a dent on every panel!

  • Morris Zapp

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus : “things like this are handled by law.”

    What blog are you reading?

    http://www.streetsblog.org/category/issues-campaigns/traffic-justice/

  • Mark

    @Komanoff, It seems you need some insight from someone who was there.How fast was the driver going when he struck her?How far from the point of first impact did Aileen’s body come to rest?
    As someone who was there right after the accident, the NYPD did indeed do all the proper test to determine the speed of the driver, and for the impact of when the bike HIT the driver’s car. Whose testimony was the basis of the NYPD statement that Aileen ran a red light?Did anyone other than the driver witness the crash? Has the NYPD taken their evidence?
    There were 3 witness’s who gave the same statements about WHAT happened and to be honest WHO was at fault. 

    Which party was traveling on 21st Avenue, which appears wider and perhaps more prone to fast driving than the cross street, 62nd Street?
    Aileen Chen was. 

    You need to be careful for what you are asking for here. You may find some of the answers unnerving if you or anyone else are looking for a reason to hang the driver. 

      @Driver, you say there is a reported summation without any knowledge of how the conclusion came to be, UMMM HELLO, there were 3 witness’s who gave identical statements, thats how it came to be.
                                                                                               
     @ Jeanie, as someone who WAS there, the police did NOT take the driver home, the driver did NOT have their license for only a month, the driver is NOT jewish. Aileen’s brains did NOT splatter on the windshield in fact the 3 witness’s stated that she didn’t hit her head until she hit he ground. SO if you are going to turn this into Dr Seuess hour, please have some real facts before posting and making yourself look like an idiot. It seems you are typing just to have people read you. 

    Like I said earlier, be careful what you witch hunt for you may not like the answers you want. 

  • From a personal point of view, it’s clear bicyclists should be as careful as they can be, because they stand to die if they aren’t.

    But from a societal standpoint, the burden needs to be on those who present the overwhelming proportion of the danger: motorists.

    Cars are extremely dangerous, and driving is a big responsibility, but it’s pretty clear that many people simply do not shoulder that responsibility very well.  That needs to change.

  • carma

    @a06a128c578cacd6b086390d76f090ca:disqus 
    Thank you for clarifying this situation.  It still is an unfortunate incident.

    It clearly shows the BIAS that most of the sb community and charles has.

  • dporpentine

    I knew this thread would be filled with crazy conjectures from people who refuse to discuss even the possibility that their ideological opposition to stopping at red lights might have contributed to this person’s tragic death. But I never thought it would swirl into the abyss of anti-Semitism–and certainly not with contributions from regulars like “all around nice gal” @SuzanneInDitmas:disqus. Isn’t generalizing about the driving abilities of a religious group kinda, like, racisty?

  • Driver

    @Driver, you say there is a reported summation without any knowledge of
    how the conclusion came to be, UMMM HELLO, there were 3 witness’s who
    gave identical statements, thats how it came to be.

    UMMM HELLO, until you just stated that, how would any of us know that to be the case?  Info like that should be part of good reporting, something that really doesn’t exist anymore.  So if you are providing answers to some of the questions here (I will assume your  comments are accurate and credible), does that make it senseless to ask those questions in the first place??  I think not. 

  • Joe R.

    I agree that the anti-Semitism is unnecessary and also irrelevant to the topic.  However, there is no refusal to discuss the possibility that some people’s ideological opposition to stopping at red lights may have contributed to this person’s death because that wouldn’t be the cause.  The problem isn’t going through red light,s but going through red lights without ascertaining that the way is clear.  If events unfolded as the papers say, then I for one will full admit that this is exactly what contributed to Aileen’s demise.  You don’t need to rigidly ahere to the law in order to be perfectly safe, but this is something the VC crowd just stubbornly refuses to get.  They’ve even fough “Idaho stop” laws in a few states on the silly presumption that a different set of laws for bikes would start a slippery slope where bikes wouldn’t be allowed on public roads any longer.  Nevertheless, you do need to always make sure the path ahead is free of potential obstacles, and any cyclist who doesn’t do this is putting themselves in harm’s way.  And that goes whether or not you have the legal right-of-way.  A green light is no more of an excuse to not look than a red light is.  If you’re not in the habit of looking for cross traffic or pedestrians at greens, then you’re lucky so far and living on borrowed time.  A red light isn’t a magical force field.

    And some of the “facts” put forth by Mark just now don’t mesh well with other accounts.  Aileen hit the car and not the other way around?  Why then according to other accounts (and I hate to be graphic but I must), was her head practically destroyed?  That just doesn’t happen hitting the pavement at bicycle speeds.  Realistically, that road is mostly level, there weren’t strong winds that day, so at best Aileen may have been going ~20 mph.  I’m a strong cyclist and rarely get much over 22 or 23 without hills or tailwinds assisting me.  Anyway, falling from a bike at 20 mph just doesn’t destroy someone’s head.  In fact, in most falls you don’t even have head injury.  Point of fact I’ve fallen after hitting a pothole at 37 mph and only came out of it with road rash.  Something still isn’t right, and I still have lots of questions, perhaps more than before.

    I’m just tired of people trying to make this into a “teachable moment” about red lights and/or helmets.  If you really want cyclists to be safer, then get behind teaching better judgement and bike handling skills for a start because 90% of the riders out there are incompetent in those areas.  Unlike you, I’m a realist.  In a city with 10,000+ signalized intersections, you’re never going to get anywhere near 100% red light compliance among even motorists, never mind cyclists or pedestrians.  In the short term, I’d much rather teach cyclists how to safely do what most are going to do anyway than harp on “the law”.  That will actually make things safer and more pleasant for everyone.  In the long term, we need inherently safe, self-enforcing infrastructure.  Had that intersection been made a roundabout, I’ve little doubt Aileen would be alive today.  Any 16 year can easily miss a light, or perhaps not even know they’re supposed to stop at a light.  A roundabout on the other hand is pretty much self-explanatory, even to a 5 year old.

  • Driver

    Joe, have you seen the barely capable of driving a straight line drivers in this city try a roundabout?  Check out Columbus Circle some day.  I would probably walk my bike in the crosswalk before riding in that mess with drivers that have poor judgment of what’s around them, unable to drive in a steady curve.   

    Sorry, I know it’s not politically correct to say this, but if you drive (or bike) long enough, you know there are certain groups of people (I am not thinking of Jewish people) who are more likely to be unaware/clueless/terrible drivers.  That doesn’t make me anti- anyone, it’s just an observation based on experience.

    Judging from many of Suzanne’s posts, she is definitely not anti-anyone either (just anti-oil), she seems to be stating her opinion based on her personal experiences and observations.  That doesn’t make her racist, or “racisty”.

  • Joe R.

    Columbus Circle really isn’t a roundabout in the strict sense, more like one big mess controlled by traffic signals if memory serves me correctly.  Here’s a better example of what I’m talking about.  It’s the intersection of 188th Street and 69th Avenue about 1.5 miles from where I live.  The intersection with 64th Avenue is similar.  Motorists have no trouble here at all.

  • Joe R.

    Oh, and yes, I’ve noticed some groups are indeed worse drivers than others.  It’s not racism or anti-anything, just a fact.  I’m not mentioning the specific groups though because it has nothing at all to do with the topic.

  • carma

    i agree, its not cool labeling ppl, but as a defensive driver, there are certain types of cars that you see, that you know that the driver probably isnt the most alert or is flat out dangerous.  if you look at a car filled w/ dents and dings, arent you going to raise a bit of suspicion as to what kind of person drives it?

    and if you see the same type of ppl over and over driving cars w/ dings and dents, arent you going to start thinking. hmmm..

    lets not be ideological, but lets not be naive either.

  • Driver

    @ 64th Ave Motorists have no trouble, but it is terrible for pedestrians, especially the elderly ones in the area.  Drivers usually don’t yield to crossing pedestrians on this commercial strip.  As someone who is very generous in yielding to pedestrians, I don’t like doing it on this road because it is two lanes.  I don’t like to yield to pedestrians when there is another traffic lane because it can be dangerous.  The pedestrians  don’t always check to see if the second lane is safe to cross, and drivers will try to pass right by you while you are stopped.  It is even worse when I’m in a truck because the truck really obstructs the pedestrians view of the next traffic lane, and like I said some people just assume it is safe to cross and don’t look when they walk into the next traffic lane.  That roundabout at 64th ave really needs traffic signals to allow pedestrians to cross safely.  It makes me uncomfortable to see the difficulty people have crossing near that roundabout.

  • carma

    Joe, I agree that roundabouts like this are great.  But driver is right.  Yield to pedestrians.  Its not that hard and its the law.  Courtesy goes a long way.

  • Joe R.

    64th Avenue has a stop sign, and 188th Street is one lane, so I’m not seeing what the problem is for pedestrians.  On the two lane road(64th Avenue), they ALWAYS have the right of way due to the stop sign.  Crossing 188th, they only need to cross one lane of ~20 mph (you really just can’t go much faster on that curve)  traffic at a time, and usually there’s a gap within a few seconds (unless traffic backs up from the light at 188th and Horace Harding blvd but this is very rare).  Irrespective, the big problem with traffic lights is you’re depending upon perfect compliance or the system fails.  Besides, in NYC most pedestrians don’t wait for green anyway, but just go when they can.  A lot of places in Europe use underpasses or overpasses to deal with pedestrian traffic for the simple reason lights which stop traffic long enough for pedestrians to cross create a lot of congestion, delays, unnecessary idling.  Look at Queens Blvd, for example.  It would be logistically impossible to have a pedestrian green phase long enough to cross.  Ramped overpasses would be way more pedestrian friendly (we have some of those here going over the LIE).

    Also, I should note that my example was the best example I could find of a roundabout without a big search.  A true roundabout requires all roads to yield to traffic already in the circle which isn’t the case here.  It’s an even safer, better design.

  • Joe R.

    carma, I never said anything about not yielding to pedestrians.  Any cyclist should always yield to any cross traffic (including pedestrians) which has the legal right-of-way.  I’ve been doing that for decades.  As for pedestrians crossing mid-block, I do my best to give them a wide berth, provided I can do so without putting myself in danger by going into traffic.

  • Joe R.

    Driver, one more point to add regarding the roundabout which you might have missed.  Due to the geometry, you’ll NEVER get cars flying through that intersection at high speeds.  You can argue all you want about it not being safe for pedestrians without a signal, but fact is NOBODY is going to blow that stop sign going much over maybe 15 mph.  If they did, they’ll land square in the middle of the traffic circcle.  This is waht I mean about being inherently self-enforcing.  This is unlike that racetrack local to me, 164th Street, where I see motorists passing stale reds at sometimes 55 mph.  That just can’t happen on a roundabout.  Even if a pedestrian or cyclist get hits, it will be by a car doing 15 or 20, meaning they have a great chance of surviving.

  • dporpentine

    I can’t believe I have to say this, but the reason people think they can generalize about the Hasidim is because it’s easy to see a person on the street and assign that person to that group. So you see individual members of that group doing X (where X = driving horribly) and because you think you recognize the group from those individuals, you also think you recognize an attribute of the group.

    My own guess would be that most of the horrible drivers in this city are Christians. But because they’re not recognizable as a group, people don’t go around generalizing about them.

    Stop it. All of you.

  • Mark

    @driver, it’s not about knowing the driver or not, it’s about the truth. It’s amazing how an accident scene with only 3-4 people there seems to have 900 witness’s now.

    And to be blunt and brutally honest, no one deserves anything or is entitled to anything except the FAMILY.

  • Driver

    Yes Joe, 188th is one lane at the roundabout, but it is wide enough for a car to pass a stopped car.  Regardless of how you feel about traffic signals, pedestrians have a hard time crossing here, I have seen it enough times, and I always think to myself that roundabout (I still call it an intersection in my head) needs to be improved for crossing pedestrians.  It’s great for moving traffic, but tough for people crossing.

    Irrespective, the big problem with traffic lights is you’re depending upon perfect compliance or the system fails.
    It seems to me if you want people to yield properly without any traffic lights you are depending even more on perfect compliance, and that is a system that is bound to fail.  It might work for the young and agile (both mentally and physically) but would be a nightmare for the elderly and handicapped.

  • Joe R.

    As a general rule, motorists will avoid hitting anything they can see, provided they can stop in time, out of pure self-interest (they don’t want points or higher insurance).  So let’s compare that roundabout to a regular signalized intersection.  It’s a given pedestrians will cross whenever they feel like it, red signal or not.  Scenario A-pedetrian crosses out in front of you while you’re driving on 188th Street.  This is actually the road where you can proceed at a higher speed through the roundabout.  I’ve done it at 25 mph on my bike, but it would be hard to go more than about 20 in a car.  In any case, driving at 20 mph or less, you have a good chance of totally avoiding them.  If you hit them, chances are great you’ve scrubbed off most of your speed, and the endd result might be minor bruises.  Scenario B: You’re driving through a regular signalized intersection with the green, and the same thing occurs.  Sure, the limit is 30 mph, but most likely you were keeping up with traffic, which could mean you were going as high as 55 mph.  Let’s say you were going 40.  Little chance to steer around them.  Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll scrub off 5 mph by the time you plow into them.  Most likely the person is dead

    Bottom line is pedestrians as a general rule pretty much won’t follow any rules even if drivers and cyclists do.  If you want them safe, you need to keep traffic speeds down at intersections in a self-enforceable way.  Roundabouts do that, traffic signals don’t.

  • Driver

    Steady moving traffic, even at slower speeds is not a lot of help to pedestrians when the pedestrian pretty much has to play chicken to get the traffic to stop. 

  • carma

    Joe, i was more trying to say, DRIVERS need to yield to pedestrians.  (of course cyclists too.)

  • carma

    @c661ddb94bcffdc2c6124e349eafdc77:disqus 
    from a raw numbers perspectives. yes, christians are the most dangerous drivers b/c they are by numbers the biggest group.

    heh, im not saying all of “X” group are bad drivers.  but as i said, lets not be naive either.  if every driver was so equal, why is that insurance rates for male drivers are so much higher than insurance rates for female drivers?  
    btw, the real numbers for insurance are, statiscally speaking, female drivers do get into more accidents.  but they are usually minor fender benders, etc.  male drivers get into fewer but  BIGGER accidents costing far more damage.

    so to assume that all drivers are equal is naive.  if i see a car with a huge dent.  i will have to assume extra caution.  wouldnt that be called acting defensively?

  • Joe R.

    Driver,

    You’re right but that’s not the case here.  Traffic isn’t so heavy that a pedestrian must wait many minutes for a gap, or play chicken.  Remember I live here.  That picture is actually typical traffic conditions.  Those streets are nearly empty much of the day.  Few roads here have so much traffic that signals might really be needed.  Besides, in my opinion when traffic gets to that point, as a pedestrian I’d much rather have a ramped crossover.  We could actually use one on164th Street, where PS 200 is.

    My big problem isn’t necessarily with the concept of traffic signals but with the idiotic way NYC implements them.  If you need to signalize an intersection due to traffic volume, fine, but have traffic detectors and push-to-cross buttons so that the light only goes red when something actually needs to cross, not on some predetermined cycle.  There are a few mid-block pedestrian crossings here which go red even at 1 AM with no pedestrians around for blocks.  That’s just dumb, lazy engineering.  Maybe if traffic signals only went red when something was actually going through motorists and especially cyclists might comply with them a bit more.

  • carma

    Joe,
    You are right in which queens streets in fresh meadows area are probably overly burdened with traffic lights.  I also like the circles.  they slow down traffic but at the same time, allow side street traffic to enter very safely.  lets put it this way, a circle allows a much easier view for traffic to enter the circle rather than looking at 90 degree intersections.  you only have to turn your head around 45 degrees or so, b/c the nature of the circle allows you to already lean into traffic.

    now to put traffic circles in every intersection in manhattan would probably not be practical.  the grid pattern actually allows timing and traffic to flow greatly.

    but i do agree having traffic circles arent the most pedestrian safe crossings, even though generally speaking  a car will travel no more than 20 mph.  to enhance a traffic circle, flashing yellow lights to alert drivers will certainly help.  and although i hate the idea of push button crossings.  pedestrians can use those and change a flashing yellow to a solid red.

    if you were a good driver, i would say you would naturally respect the road and allow peds to cross.  but we know that not all drivers are good drivers.

  • carma

    joe,

    dont forget francis lewis blvd.  aka: drag strip central.  definitley a dangerous road.  good thing the cops actually still occasionally monitor the road.  although the 40mph limit doesnt help the situation.

  • Joe R.

    Regarding the whole stereotyping thing, remember that humans instinctively categorize what they see. Actually, many higher animals do this.  This was simple survival in the past.  You might see animal X which meant bad news.  After a while, you learned to stay clear of animals which look like animal X because chances are they were bad news also.  Now we do the same thing with drivers, or perhaps avoid certain ethnic groups when we’re walking because of what we see on the news.  It’s all too easy to say we should stop doing this, but unfortunately it’s as much a part of our nature as breathing.  Just look how an entire city stereotyped and scapegoated cyclists on account of a relative few bad encounters, plus the sensationalism they read in the news.

    The best way to fight stereotyping is with reliable statistics.  Whenever people say to me, for example, that cyclists are a menace, I point out the ratio of pedestrians killed by cyclists versus motor vehicles.  That generally shuts them up.

  • Joe R.

    carma,
     
    Yep, Francis Lewis Blvd is a major drag strip.  Despite that, I ride on that road a lot, sometimes right to where it ends at the Clearview Expressway Service Road (that junction is a real trip on a bike-basically glance to check if it’s clear, then swing across 3 lanes of traffic as quickly as possible).  I actually feel relatively safe on Francis Lewis, despite sometimes being passed by drag racers going 80 mph, simply because I have room to manuever out of the way, and visibility is great.

    Driver,

    Yep, flashing yellows on those circles sounds good to me.  Motorists seem to respect lights more than signs for some reason.

  • carma

    exactly.  its like saying all black folks are criminals.  which is obviously not true.  but if you were to walk out in brownsville ny.  you have to be really simple minded to not look over your shoulder a bit.

    that doesnt make you a racist.  it makes you human.
    now to hate you b/c of your skin color.  absolutely racist and disgusting.

  • carma

    i have a cycling bud that lives behind francis lewis.  he says even though cops have cracked down alot.  he still hears the occasional loud exhaust wizz by.  in the summer nights im out on 73rd ave bike lanes all the time biking.  i find nighttime biking very pleasurable.  you dont deal w/ the hot summer heat.
    but you wont find me on francis lewis.  the road is just not designed well.  when i drive on frannie lew, at 40, you still hit every light.  there is no point to make it a 40mph zone, but at the same time, making it 30mph is just crawling on such a wide road.  and there probably is no need of a road diet either as there are hardly any pedestrians on both sides.

    its not really a problem as probably there are few casualties due to low ped usage, but a lot of wrecks from the drag races.

  • Joe R.

    I’m a night rider myself, even in the dead of winter.  It’s so much nicer not having to deal with much traffic.  I almost always start my ride in the 73rd Avenue bike lanes.  I get on at 166th Street, 2 blocks from my house, and usually go to Springfield Blvd.  Sometimes I go left on Springfield and from there to Horace Harding Blvd (that’s when I usually eventually end up on Francis Lewis), other times I go right (usually to Union Turnpike and from there out of city limits).  If you’ve ever seen a red bike with a solid black disc rear wheel, that was probably me.
     
    I agree about the light timing on Francis Lewis-totally wrong for the 40 mph limit, and none too great for bikes, either.  I ride it mostly because it’s pretty flat, and has some stretches of 1/2 mile without lights.  Jericho Turnpike (NY25) out past city limits is even better in that regard but I don’t always feel like riding that many miles.  Usually when I go that way I’ll take 73rd Avenue to Springfield, right on Springfield, left on Union Turnpike, stay on Union until it ends at Hillside Avenue, left on Hillside, go about 4 miles, right on Glen Cove Road (that’s 3/4 mile past the LIRR crossing), then back into the city on NY25.  9.1 miles on NY25, right on 181st Street, left on Hillside Avenue, right on Midland Pwky, left on Surrey Place, left on Union Turnpike, right on 164th Street.  23 miles with no detours, usually 25 or so if I change the route a bit, probably takes about 1:25 on a good day, 1:30 on an average one.

  • “And to be blunt and brutally honest, no one deserves anything or is entitled to anything except the FAMILY.”

    This falsehood really gets to the root of our traffic justice problem. The public itself has the expectation and the right to know that that justice is served after any loss, injury, and especially any death. We all use the streets and we deserve to know that the laws governing them are being applied fairly and that the streets are as safe as they can be. This is as plainly in the public interest as anything could be.

    By invoking “FAMILY” you are summoning an emotional reaction to chase off rational dissent. Our courts are not merely, or at all, a forum for vengeance seeking by victims or those related to them. If that were true, why would we bother to prosecute the murder of a recent immigrant with no local ties? We do it because none of us like very much being murdered.

    None of us, either, like very much being run over. You misunderstand fully when you think that anyone here would rather not have a trial if it means confirming that there was no fault on the part of the driver. How could it be worse, to know that what most readers of the papers already assume to be true is in fact true? It would be a great comfort simply to know that justice has been served.

  • eric

    Coming back to this thread is like driving by a car accident, you can’t help yourself but to slow down and look. I agree with dporpentine that commentors who have an ideological issue with red lights refuse to recognize that if the cyclist ran a red light  it was a major factor in the accident. Worse yet is  the back peddling on the driver being Jewish by justifying the alleged driving habits of Hasidic Jews as part of the rationale. Complete with the “some of my best friends are Jewish” variant by one posters claim of Jewish culture. Then justifying their comments by co-opting the Holocaust.Congratulations Mr Komanoff, your lack of objectivity and your complete bias towards the driver of the car has opened a Pandora’s box which you can no longer close.

  • moocow

    Is this the Eric who claimed to ride in NYC, everyday this winter and sit through all lights in subfreezing temperatures?

  • eric

    If you want to address this issues regarding Ms. Chen go for it. Don’t put words in my mouth or claim I made statements I have not. I do not ride in subfreezing temperatures and I do wait for red lights. You can go back to your big glass of Kool Aid now and leave the real issues to adults.

  • Joe

    BMW? Bet it was a rich white politician’s little girl that driving the BMW. No wonder no charges are gonna be filed.

  • Mark

    or no charges were filed because after a 3 hour accident scene investigation, the cops found the driver not at fault?? Couldn’t be that could it Joe??? No helmet, against the light, head phones on, not wearing her glass’s, 2 cars came out of the intersection before the car she hit did, but your right Joe totally has to do with the type of car. Could you be any more of an idiot????

  • mari

    its sad that people judge for  what you drive  ….idots    not the actual evidents there where there at least 50 police  officers  hwy investigators  on the seen and they invetigated for 3 hr before they cloncluded ,,, what it was ,,3 witness said all the same thing the driver  had two car behind also said he had a green light and they where going with traffic at a normal speed there where two cars ahead of the bmw  that the bike came full speed missed the car ahead and swinged in to the bmw the bike was going at full speed and  not payng attention  lets not always  crussafide the drivers..lets accept the truth and realize that  many byciclelist are not resposible..for their accitions and ruin many innocent drivers…think of this poor girl the driver how distroyed she is…

  • MARIA

    its sad that religion is an issue…. no the thruth should be an issue sorry for aileen may she rest in peace,,, but lets be real she did not make the best choises on june 4th she was riding at a full speed with her bike ,,and not paying attetion….. maybe she was cought in the moment of the song she was listening on her head phones,, and did not pay  attention to the traffic////,,, why  is it always that is the one that lives has to bear the cross …and gets the blame,,the thruth is that many byclelist  dont take resposibility for their acction and the parents as well   I AM SURE THE PARENTS KNEW  AILEEN ROD THAT   BIKE WITH EARPHONES AND NO HELMET  WHERE WHERE   THEY  SHOING RESPOSIBILITY TO TELL HER THATS AGAINTS THE LAW!!!!!!!!    WHY THEY NEVER STOPPED  HER FRIENDS  have made coments that she had a habit os riding her bike at full speed and listening to music….why did her parents not stop her…did they know how dangerous it is…only thing they say how smart she was …..NOT STREET MART………LETS BE REAL AND NOT PUT $$$$$$$ amount   ON BLOOD MONEY…..THEY SHOULD MAKE SURE THAT WHEN THEY COLLECT ITS BLOOD MONEY ,,,,AND MAYBE  USE THAT MONEY TO BUY HELMETS TO THOSE WHO RIDE WITH OUT ONE …AND EDUCATED PEOPLE ON HOW TO RIDE IN TRAFFIC   CAUSE IF YOUR ON THE ROD  YOU SHOULD RESPECT  THE TRAFFIC AS WELL…

  • dporpentine

    @twowheel:disqus I’m, uh, not eric but I ride my bike here in the city all year long, and have for years, and stop for all red lights for the entire cycle, no matter what the weather.

    So? What’s your point?

  • dporpentine

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus and @2555783a6f62598b6aadd2d882a4830f:disqus Part of my point is that you and all these other people are simply wrong on the statistical level. I mean, point to a single bit of evidence that the Hasidim are worse drivers than anyone else. One single bit.

    And actually you’d be pretty foolish to walk through Brownsville and be worried by the presence of . . . ohmigosh . . . black people. It’s still a lot safer (statistically) than all kinds of places in the US. But racism tosses up fake rationales. So stop it. It’s not uncontrollably human. It’s just stupid.

  • Postman3000

    Let’s switch couple of things here: 1) a bicyclist was not a Chinese girl but was a son (daughter) of a rich white politician/billionaire; and the car was not 2011 BMW driven by a young person (who never had a cell phone in possession, and never made calls while driving, if it is ever possible even to imagine) but a 1990s Chevy driven by Joe (who all over sudden as we find out has had violations before). Get the picture? So tell me how different would be the outcome of the so-called “investigation”?

  • carma

    why are we putting hypothetical situations in place that did not exist.  what are you trying to prove?   i dont see how you are trying to help the deceased or quite frankly anything at all

  • carma

    Joe.  i also own a bmw 3 series.  do you want to blame me for everything?
    I am also not a rich white politician.  So how are you going to label me?

    I am an American of Chinese race born in NY.  Are you going to say I caused all your problems?  sorry, but what you are saying is simply ignoratus maximus.

  • Joe R.

    dporpentine-You’re making the classic logical fallacy of saying people are wrong on some statistical level (because they don’t have data), while not having data yourself to support your own conclusions.  Point is unless data on accidents collected on the basis of race/religion exists, neither side can prove anything.  My point was humans categorize things in order to be able to make quick decisions (i.e. the kind of snap judgements you hate).  There is actually a very good reason for this.  In survival situations, you just don’t have time to go through an entire inductive reasoning process.  Rather, it’s more like this looks bad because similar things in the past WERE bad, so I’m getting the f out of here as fast as my feet can carry me.  Like it or not, we’re still wired like that.  This is why prejudice remains such a hard thing to fight.  When you see patterns, such as 90% of the criminals pictured in the paper are one race, or most of the cars with a lot of dings on them are driven by people who look a certain way, then yes, unfortunately you come to conclusions.  And in some cases the stats actually bear this out.  The jails for example are filled with a greater proportion of black people than the general population.  Does this mean most black people are criminals?  No, absolutely not.  But it does mean many criminals are black.  If I see a group of young black males who look like gangbangers (or for that matter a similar group of any other race), I’m getting the f out of there.  On the flip side, the vast majoritiy of black people I encounter will NOT elicit that reaction.  And probably 90% of the time the “gangbangers” are harmless as well, but I’d rather be safe than sorry and just avoid them.

  • Joe R.

    Just so people know (in case they haven’t checked the profiles), the “Joe” who posted the above comment about the BMW isn’t me.

  • Joe R.

    @mari-Some here have already said Aileen may be partly or entirely to blame here but let’s not forget she was 16 years old.  16 year old do stupid, impulsive things. If her parents knew she listened to music while riding, they should have put a stop to it because that’s a dangerous distraction.  It also impairs your sense of hearing.  A cyclist, at least a good one, relies on hearing as much as on sight for their safety.  As far as “riding full speed”, “not wearing a helmet”, I take issue here.  I’ride fast whenever traffic allows, sometimes well in excess of 30 mph, even 40 mph once in a while.  I’ve never worn a helmet.  In this case, one wouldn’t have made a difference.  At the speeds I ride, it really won’t help, either, and would have a lot of drawbacks (for me personally).  The thing I AM in the habit of doing is ascertaining all the time if I have a clear path ahead, especially if I make the choice to pass a red light.  It seems if Aileen is guilty of anything, then it’s failing to be aware of the situation around her.  No sane cyclist passes red lights without slowing down, assessing the situation, and being fully prepared to come to a complete stop if there is cross traffic.  Given the cross traffic here (at least 3 cars) she should have stopped.  I certainly would have stopped.  I don’t play chicken with 2-ton objects.  And you should assess cross traffic even when you have a green light, just in case someone misses stopping at red.  Regardless, like I said, she was 16, and 16-year olds just sometimes do dumb things.  The real tragedy is having streets so dangerous that a momentary slip up is fatal.  Cars shouldn’t be going more than 15-20 mph where they might encounter bikes or pedestrians.  Collisions may not be totally avoidable because some do stupid things, but by slowing down the consequences of those collisions can be mitigated.

  • carma

    Joe R.

    I know it wasnt you.  But a statement like that is like saying all bikers are wreckless and cycling should be banned b/c we have a few red light runners.

     i own a bmw.  i also own a toyota sienna.  but wait, i also own a gary fisher hybrid bicycle and wait, i also have a huge no-name heavy mountain bike with a full suspension.   so no wonder charges wont be filed against me as well.

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