An Open Letter to Daily News Deputy Editor Arthur Browne

We noticed you’ve taken an interest in traffic injuries lately. This is a welcome development.

Tens of thousands of New Yorkers are hurt in traffic every year, many of them seriously. Well over 200 are killed annually. Most of these crashes get little to no attention from police, much less the media. So it’s encouraging that a major outlet like the Daily News is finally taking notice.

Surely there's no double-standard at work at New York's hometown paper.

In fact, since you are now giving front-page treatment to this issue, there are a number of stories that need telling. The failure of NYPD to investigate thousands of serious traffic crashes year after year is a travesty. City Council members have put forward legislation begging the police to adhere to state law and fully investigate these crashes. Nearly half of city motorists who run over and kill people don’t even get a traffic summons! A cover exposé on this major scandal could help save lives.

Did you know that state traffic laws are often cited by prosecutors as a major hindrance in bringing negligent drivers to justice? It’s true. That alone should be good for a year of house editorials.

Fortunately, you are off to a ripping start. For instance, your article on Richard Bernstein, the Central Park runner who was struck and injured by cyclist Omar Shakir — good catch, by the way — was reported more thoroughly than most any Daily News traffic injury story we’ve seen. By printing such a detailed account, you have raised the bar for future coverage of traffic-related tragedies, which practically never includes such details as the identity of the vehicle operator, or vehicle speed.

We were particularly surprised to see special attention paid to the cyclist in this case. Oftentimes, Daily News traffic injury and fatality stories barely acknowledge the existence of the vehicle operator, and have nonsensical headlines like “Veteran UPS driver struck by SUV in lower Manhattan in critical condition,” and “3-year-old Brooklyn boy killed by van before father’s eyes.” It’s like these SUVs and vans just have minds of their own.

How refreshing today’s reportage was compared to the typical traffic crash story, where the driver is swiftly exonerated and even commiserated with.

In the past, many Daily News stories about traffic injuries did not even mention the name of the victim. Thank goodness that seems to be changing. Having all those life stories told in your paper — about 40 a day — will make quite an impact.

It’s not just injuries caused by cyclists that will get this treatment, right?

  • Anonymous

    My favorite part is “Speeding bikers stir fear & anger.” The only people stirring fear and anger are the editors at the Daily News.

  • Also, if you want to send a private letter, too, perhaps try abrowne -at- nydailynews dot com since that follows the formatting of their personal email addresses over there.

    I’m sure he would love to hear useful feedback from all of his readers.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I guess if it happens all the time, it isn’t news.  Kind of like dying of old age.  The risk you take for being alive, being run over by your fellow drivers (whether you are a fellow driver or not).

    Meanwhile, have there been ANY significant injuries in bike-ped collisions that AREN’T on the park drives?

    I’m still hoping for the martices that put everything in perspective.  Motorists, passengers, cyclists, a) killed and b) injured to the point of hospitalization after being struck by motor vehicles (by type), struck by cyclists (by type), and just crashing themselves or falling in a public right of way.

    Where are the numbers?  I thought TA got an ordinance passed.

  • Anonymous

    http://www.boweryboogie.com/2012/08/woman-hit-by-garbage-truck-outside-epsteins-last-night/
    http://gothamist.com/2012/08/16/woman_struck_by_garbage_truck_on_le.php 

    This woman has died.  There was no NYPD investigation.  It’s not clear how a garbage truck could get so fast to kill a person at this light.  

    NYDN doesn’t give a fuck though.  They’d much rather encourage violence against cyclists than actually do something about the violence against pedestrians and cyclists. 

    Divide-and-Conquer strategy.  

  • Similar story on Channel Four news who claimed, on the air, that they were the ones to break the story.
    http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Blind-Runner-Richard-Bernstein-Cyclist-Central-Park-166386896.html

  • Driver

    JarekAF, a vehicle with such weight and size does not need speed to seriously injure or kill a pedestrian or cyclist.

    I don’t know which is more aggravating; the anti-cyclist bias in the news, or the fact that sheeple buy into such “reporting” without recognizing the obvious spin.

    Great article Brad.

  • Anonymous

    Good work, Brad. Great idea and deftly done.

    In the mid-nineties, the News had a string of crusading stories on motorist mayhem. A gallery of the front pages — there must have been two dozen over a period of a year or two — would make a powerful, indelible image. It might be worth having a T.A. staffer or intern take a camera to 4 Penn Plaza and shoot the covers.

  • Eric McClure

    Yes, thanks, Brad — well done.

  • Andrew

    Bravo!

  • Same thing here in Sweden, Cars are an unstoppable force of nature us humans can just pray won’t hit us. Bicycles are lycra-clad terrorists who aim at innocent pedestrians on purpose.

  • Ben Kintisch

    These tabloids are well read with huge readership. Thank you brad for this article. Fellow streetsblog readers, email, call, and tweet to let nydn know that it’s not okay to promote this kind of false discourse.

  • Brick

    When do you start calling stories like the NYDN’s out for what they are – Yellow Journalism

    Despicable

  • Anonymous

    BRAVISSIMO….

  • Guest

    I hate to mention this… but there is one legitimate distinction between a cyclist case like this and many (not all) motor vehicle incidents: the level of effort necessary to create a public safety risk is certainly higher with the cyclist. 

    Drivers can do major damage to people with only a momentary distraction.  To get a bicycle to 35 mph takes a lot more effort.  Of course, this distinction makes the case for greater regulation and control of motor vehicles seem pretty obvious, but it also sheds a little light on why an accident with a cyclist seems more noteworthy.

  • Guest

    And I don’t mean to detract from Brad Aaron’s piece.
    It’s spot on!