Early Sunday morning, Mir Hossain, 35, was standing next to his double-parked cab on East 26th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues when a speeding SUV driver rear-ended his taxi, sending him flying to the pavement and killing him.
This afternoon, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance held a memorial at the site of the crash, joined by, among others, Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky and Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives.
Hossain’s roommate Sajjad Matin, himself a cab driver, fought back tears as he spoke about his friend. Overcome by grief, he left halfway through his remarks. In February 2012, Matin was pinned by a drunk driver on Eighth Avenue near 51st Street as he was unloading a passenger’s luggage from his car’s trunk. His left leg was amputated and he remained in a medically-induced coma for weeks.
Saying that “an injury to one is an injury to all,” transportation analyst Charles Komanoff cited his research in “Killed by Automobile” showing that taxi drivers are some of New York’s safest drivers per mile driven, yet face big risks due to long shifts and time getting into and out of vehicles on the street.
“Our streets can give us better, and if we work together with transit activists, taxi drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and the city of New York, we believe we can make the streets safer for all of us,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance. “The design of the streets and the allocation of space should be respectful of everybody who needs to use it, including taxi drivers.”
Although she counted herself among the city’s advocates for safer streets today, Desai has a history of MTA-bashing and skepticism of camera enforcement, and told Streetsblog this afternoon that she thought the city already had speed cameras.
The driver who killed Hossain told police his accelerator got stuck and is not expected to face any charges. “A lot of private motorists, they don’t know what the speed limits are,” Desai said.
Mamun Hossain, Mir’s brother, was also on hand and expressed his frustration with the lack of accountability for dangerous drivers. “Where is the justice?” he asked. “This man is free. Why?”
“Shame on the NYPD!” attendees chanted later.
“We want to know that there has been a fair and proper investigation,” Desai said. “Unless they’re drunk, nothing much seems to happen.”