Today’s Headlines

  • Riders Alliance Calls on de Blasio to Fund Discounted MetroCards (NewsAMNY)
  • Bay Ridge Motorists’ Insatiable Appetite for Free Parking Sparks Salamanca-Gentile Bill (Eagle)
  • More on DOT’s Left Turn Safety Initiative (VoiceWNYC, AMNY, NY1, DNA)
  • Hit-and-Run Driver Who Injured Woman on Lower Manhattan Sidewalk Going to Jail (Post)
  • Mother of Child Killed by Speeding Driver Outside Harlem School Sues City and Uber (NewsPost)
  • Cyclist Strikes, Injures Pedestrian on Seventh Avenue in Midtown (DNA)
  • High-Speed Collision in Williamsburg Injures Two NYPD Officers and Second Motorist (DNA)
  • Steve Matteo Wants to “Balance Safety With Traffic Flow” on Crash-Prone SI Street (Advance)
  • Buried Lede: New York State Subsidizes Driver Education for Disabled People (News)
  • New York Times Enthralled by Highway Bridge

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • Larry Littlefield

    With regard to the Tappen Zee, I’m not as opposed to its replacement and an happy that it is progressing so fast with a reasonable budget.

    But the fact that this is possible just shows that a large share of the cost of mass transit construction and maintenance is income distribution. Upward.

    And that is something no one wants to change.

    As for the injured pedestrian, the cyclist must have been moving quite quickly if they were unable to avoid him, and hit hard enough to send him to the hospital. But if that pedestrian had been hit by a motor vehicle, it would have been far worse for him. Those on bicycles have to expect drivers and pedestrians to do just about anything at just about any time and place in Midtown.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Is that bike in the 7th Ave crash picture missing something?

  • Elizabeth F

    I would like to wait for the facts to come in before coming to any conclusions on the Seventh Ave crash. We know the ped was crossing mid-block (not legal), and it’s likely he was listening, not watching, for traffic. The bike was probably at the end of the traffic cycle (legal), or running reds (not legal). I’m sure someone will find video footage that will elucidate the situation. In the end, insurance companies or a jury will have to sort this one out.

    I am concerned, of course, about the way this has been reported. When did we last see the headline of “Driver Slams Into Pedestrian in Midtown Wednesday, Witnesses Say”

  • kevd

    “likely he was listening, not watching, for traffic.”
    Not sure about that conclusion. I’ve had people step out mid block staring straight at me. If you aren’t an SUV, sometimes they just don’t see you. I hope he’s okay, but it does seem clear that it was his fault and not the cyclist’s (who was traveling south on 7th ave). Glad the cyclist did the right thing and stayed at the scene.

  • Reader

    Gotta love a fake parking scandal, especially one not started by a nefarious transportaiton department but a councilmember who can’t connect the dots on a whopping TWO emails.

    —-

    In the case of the new Bay Ridge muni-meters, however, Gentile admitted on Thursday that DOT had contacted him to advise him about the installations months ago.

    “This morning I spoke with Brooklyn DOT Commissioner Keith Bray, and DOT had in fact emailed our office two notices about the prospective installation of muni-meters in this area: one in March of this year and one in May. The full scope of the new meter plan wasn’t evident unless the two communiqués from three months apart were put together. We agreed that there should be more efficient means of communication from all parties regarding the roll-out of muni-meters so that the information does not get lost in the shuffle,” Gentile said.

  • kevd

    “Those on bicycles have to expect drivers and pedestrians to do just about anything at just about any time and place in Midtown.”
    Sure. But sometimes people do appear in front of you, midblock, with very little warning.
    I hit someone that way on Broadway once (he was looking SOUTH as he stepped out into traffic, and as I attempted to brake and turn to avoid him he turned, say me and moved in the same direction I did to try to avoid him). We both stayed at the scene, made sure each other were alright and were on our way.
    We were both okay, but it hurt.
    I was going about 15mph.

  • kevd

    what?

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    The bike doesn’t appear to have brakes.

  • Jesse

    it’s hard to tell but it looks like it might not have brakes. Plus no bell… the bell definitely would have prevented this.

  • kevd

    brakes? probably – bell? doubtful

  • reasonableexplanation

    This a very reasoned response to this crash. Sort of a ‘here’s what the facts point to, but let’s withhold judgement until the whole story is known.’

    A lot of the time as a motorcyclist I have a problem with pedestrians seeing right through me as they cross mid block (especially in the outer boros), causing me to grab a hand full of brake. Times like that I wish my bike had ABS.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Some types of bikes don’t have hand brakes (you brake by applying pressure to the pedals backwards). You can potentially make the argument that’s it’s a safety issue.

    In the UK bicycles that are ridden on public roads are mandated to have both a front and rear brake. (So you can have your fixie, but you have to fit a front brake on it, even if it’s only for emergencies). I don’t think it’s really enforced there though. And I can’t see it being worthwhile to enforce it here either, so it’s a wash I guess.

  • Jesse

    I was kidding about the bell. But brakes are important for sure.

  • Simon Phearson

    Right – the story here is, local councilmember introduces legislation to cover up for his own incompetence.

  • Joe R.

    I almost had something similar happen to me once. I was riding on Union Turnpike eastbound during the evening rush hour in winter. I had a bright headlight which can easily be seen a few blocks away. In case you’re unfamiliar, the parking lane on Union Turnpike really isn’t wide enough for a cyclist to ride there, so I usually take the right lane. Late nights this is no problem since there’s seldom much motor traffic. That night, motor traffic was heavy since I was riding much earlier than usual that evening. I therefore needed to keep pace with it, or risk being run off the road. This isn’t hard since rush hour motor traffic on Union Turnpike typically moves at 20 to 30 mph. Usually catching the draft off the vehicle in front is enough to keep pace without killing myself (note I don’t need to ride their bumper for this—20 or 30 feet behind works fine). Right after I passed the intersection with Utopia Parkway a woman suddenly comes out from behind a parked truck when I was nearly on top of her. I don’t know why she deemed it was safe to cross. She was well in the middle of the block, and there were vehicles in front of and behind me. Perhaps she thought I was further away and/or going a lot more slowly. In any case, all I had time to do was jerk my handlebars. Fortunately I choose left and she jumped back. I probably missed her by a few inches. At my speed of 33 mph on the slight downgrade, which was simply prevailing traffic speed, it would have been ugly for both of us had I hit her. I can’t say there was anything I should or could have done differently in this situation. Even if I had anticipated this potential blind spot, slowing down when the following car was perhaps 20 feet off my rear wheel wasn’t an option at all. Neither was moving to the left lane, which is what I usually do in similar situations.

  • I am perfectly willing to assume that the pedestrian did something stupid like crossing without looking.

    Nevertheless, the fault still likes with the bicyclist. If the bicyclist was unable to stop at the sudden appearance of the pedestrian, then the bicyclist was going too fast.

    I am a daily bicyclist, a vocal bicycle enthusiast, and an unapologetic hater of cars. I am very comfortable with the paradigm “bicycles good; cars bad”. Yet both bicyclists and drivers have the same responsibility to look out for pedestrians, who are the most vulnerable road users. Morally speaking, whenever a pedestrian is struck, the fault always lies with whoever struck him/her, be it a bicyclist or a driver. This is a principle that rightfully should be enshrined in law.

  • kevd

    Ah. I missed the joke. Sorry..
    Agreed!

  • Joe R.

    Unfortunately physics works against this concept. We even recognize this in the rule regarding uncontrolled crosswalks:

    Section 4-04

    Pedestrians shall not cross in front of oncoming vehicles.
    (2)Notwithstanding the provisions of (1) of this subdivision (b), no pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the operator to yield.

    The only speed where you can always stop in time if someone suddenly crosses in front of you is zero. By your reasoning then any speed faster than zero is too fast.

    Note that I’m not going to blame the victim here for crossing midblock even though that’s technically illegal. I do it myself. However, a pedestrian crossing midblock has the onus of ensuring the way is clear before proceeding. A cyclist or driver hitting them if they don’t look before proceeding is not legally responsible, and shouldn’t be sanctioned unless they were exceeding the legal speed limit, and then only for speeding.

  • qrt145

    As a frequent user of that stretch of 7th Ave, I can say two things from experience: 1) it is slightly downhill, so it’s easy to ride fast; 2) there is often relatively little motor vehicle traffic, especially when Central Park is closed to cars, which emboldens pedestrians to jaywalk across the avenue anytime, anyplace.

  • kevd

    “I and my staff are too incompetent to read emails. Better sponsor some legislation”

  • Joe R.

    The police let the cyclist go. Most likely he’s not being charged with anything. I doubt there will be any civil proceedings, either, at least from the person who was hit. He was crossing midblock, didn’t look, and was therefore legally responsible for what happened. The cyclist could sue the person he hit for injuries or damage to his bike, but both look to be OK. On top of that, one or both parties may not even had any kind of insurance. I can assure you this is one case which accident lawyers aren’t lining up for.

  • bolwerk

    *Shrug*

    This is a bike-on-ped collision. Kind of silly to worry about legality, and we should instead worry about the reasonableness of each participants’ intentions.

  • Joe R.

    Practice modulating your front brake to the point where your rear wheel is just lifting off the ground. It takes time, but if you’re reasonably competent you can eventually do it. Once you can, you’re stopping the bike as fast as physics will allow. Another tip is to drop down to lower your center of gravity. This allows greater deceleration rates before your rear wheel will lift. I’ve managed ~0.7g with this technique. This allows me to stop from 25 mph in about 60 feet. The way cyclists typically brake takes about a full block to stop from the same speed.

  • kevd

    So you were going 8 (or maybe 3) mph OVER the limit?
    For shame!

  • Joe R.

    The speed limit on Union Turnpike at the time was either 30 or 35 mph. I don’t remember which. Worst case I was marginally over the speed limit but I was just keeping up with traffic flow.

  • Simon Phearson

    This is utter nonsense. We don’t have a moral obligation to conduct ourselves so that we can’t possibly cause harm to others even when they behave in dangerously unpredictable and, indeed, legally proscribed ways.

    If anything, we have a moral obligation to avoid behaving in dangerously unpredictable and legally proscribed ways when using our roads. Wouldn’t you agree? And if you do, aren’t you effectively saying that both people are morally “at fault,” when a legally-behaving cyclist strikes an illegally-behaving pedestrian?

  • vnm

    Oh, that stretch is quite a bit downhill, and traffic moves in platoons. If you’re out of the car platoon, you can find yourself confronted with a platoon of pedestrians crossing en masse after having just exited the 50th Street 1 station, 53rd Street B/D/E station, or 49th Street N/R. The pedestrians, although nominally crossing against the “don’t walk” phase, feel entitled to be walking where they are, aren’t always looking closely, and are easily, very surprised to see a cyclist.

  • Eric McClure

    FFS. This is what the driver and the Post both call an “accident”: a crash in which the stoned driver intentionally drove on the sidewalk to avoid backed-up traffic and nearly killed a woman.

    SMDH.

  • AnoNYC

    NEWS
    Neighbors oppose idea to narrow already congested stretch of East Tremont Ave.

    http://bronx.news12.com/news/neighbors-oppose-idea-to-narrow-already-congested-stretch-of-east-tremont-ave-1.12129023

  • SteveVaccaro

    Cyclists has the same obligation that operators of motor vehicles have to use due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian. VTL Sec. 1146. Using due care doesn’t mean moving so slowly at all times so as to rule out the possibility of a collision. It means the care that a reasonably prudent person would use under the circumstances.

    We’d need more details in order to form an opinion as to whether this cyclist failed to use due care (and I’d want those details from a source more reliable than the Post). But it’s fair to say that a cyclist is permitted to use a little less vigilance and care mid-block as compared to at an intersection, and that the opposite is true of a pedestrian, who should take greater care when crossing mid-block (on a block bounded by signalized intersections) compared to crossing in a crosswalk. Since the block where the pedestrian was making a mid-block crossing is signalized at both ends, the pedestrian (based on the facts presented by the Post) was violating the law and is deemed to have been careless as a matter of law. But even if that is so, the cyclist still had a duty to use due care to avoid a collision.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I hit someone that way on Broadway once (he was looking SOUTH as he stepped out into traffic, and as I attempted to brake and turn to avoid him he turned, say me and moved in the same direction I did to try to avoid him).”

    I haven’t hit anyone, but someone steps out into traffic in front of me without looking anywhere — especially into a bike lane — almost every day I ride.

  • Well, in light of the section that Joe posted, which recognises the concept of “walk[ing] or run[ning] into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the operator to yield”, then I guess that you have a point.

    But that doesn’t mean that an illegal act on the part of a pedestrian automatically absolves a bicyclist from a moral perspective. The principle that a bicyclist — like the driver of a car — should be prepared to stop at all times remains sound.

    The ability to stop suddenly decreases sharply with speed. Riding at speeds approaching 20 miles per hour while being close to the curb is the wrong thing to do. If a bicyclist can take a lane at that speed, then go for it. But don’t ride near the curb (bike lane or no bike lane) at that sort of rate. It may be under the speed limit and so not illegal; but it is reckless. The choice to do that makes the fault lie with the bicyclist even if the bicyclist is riding legally (under the speed limit) and the pedestrian is behaving illegally (crossing mid-block).

    I think that we can all agree that using what is legal and illegal to determine what is morally sound is shaky under the best of circumstances. And doing this is impossible when it comes to bicyclists, because the laws were written without any regard whatsoever to our circumstances. For example, even though I bang on about stopping at red lights, I recognise that the law requiring us to do this is absurd, and that a bicyclist’s going through a red light when it’s safe to do so is not an immoral act. (It’s not inherently immoral; but it is unethical in that it contributes to the difficulty of advancing cyclists’ interests in the political sphere by enflaming the hatred of an already hostile public.)

    So we should be able to agree that moral culpability can still fall on a party which is acting technically legally, if it’s in a situation which the law was never designed to contemplate. Even if 20 or 25 miles per hour is the speed limit, that slow speed for a car represents an excessive rate of speed for a bicycle, especially for one that is riding close to the curb or to the parked cars.

  • kevd

    yeah, this was the one time I didn’t avoid the in-front-of-stepper.

  • Joe R.

    If you do want to ride fast in a bike lane adjacent to the curb, then I think it’s prudent to at least slow down and/or swing out when you approach a pedestrian. I do this especially when I see someone walking a dog. Dogs are unpredictable. I don’t want to be responsible for killing someone’s beloved pet (or child) when I can take preemptive action to avoid doing so.

    Any good cyclist (or driver) easily recognizes the times when it’s appropriate to go slower than you’re legally allowed to. For example, if I were to ride after a heavy snowstorm, I probably wouldn’t exceed 10 mph.

  • I’m not talking about slowing down when you approach a pedestrian whom you can already see. I’m talking about slowing down in general when near the curb so that you will be able to stop for a suddenly-appearing pedestrian. At any more than 15 miles per hour, you’re getting into reckless territory.

  • Joe R.

    Well, if lines of sight are blocked then it’s obviously prudent to go slower. I was thinking of this bike lane in particular when I made my comment:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@40.7466479,-73.791939,3a,75y,122.96h,78.87t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s6V3rnc1hAfh4uiuxFkTCmQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    As you can see, there really aren’t any points where you can’t easily see pedestrians from more than a block away. It’s mostly slightly uphill, so I’m rarely exceeding 15 mph by much anyway.

  • Simon Phearson

    I wouldn’t suggest – and I don’t think I suggested – that we are morally entitled to do everything that is legally permitted. I would say, instead, that we have an overriding moral obligation to conduct ourselves on the roads with due care, and what that means depends on the circumstances. I agree that it is generally reckless to ride at high speed near to where pedestrians regularly step into traffic in order to look for oncoming traffic – a practice that in my experience seems unique to New York and likely a consequence of our lack of daylighting at intersections. I would go further and say that we have greater duties to slow down and be ready to stop when near actively-used parks, street fairs, and the like.

    All that I reject is that I must always be at fault for hitting a pedestrian, or that the only reasonable way to ride with “due care” is so that I can stop at a moment’s notice for a suddenly-appearing pedestrian, no matter where or how unusual or reckless their behavior is. I should expect pedestrians to try to cross against the light at intersections; I should expect them to weave through stopped traffic mid-block; I should expect them to meander across bike lanes. I should, correspondingly, ride so that they’re aware of my presence and so that I can avoid them if necessary. But I cannot anticipate when and where a pedestrian might try to cross mid-block on a Manhattan avenue. In my experience, that kind of jaywalking is rare and, in my view, generally inadvisable (in contrast, jaywalking across the narrower cross streets involves shorter crossing distances across fewer lanes of traffic moving at slower speeds).

  • reasonableexplanation

    I have no problems stopping quickly on my bicycle (front and rear disc brakes).

    On a motorcycle this isn’t the correct strategy.

    -I always brake with front and back brakes together.
    -Can’t drop my center of gravity (already sitting in seat).
    -Never want my back wheel to lift of the ground and do a stoppie (illegal, technically).

  • HamTech87

    How is the TZ project different in regards to income distribution from other transportation projects?

  • Joe R.

    A motorcycle has a much lower center of gravity than a bicycle. The rear brake is actually useful in panic stops as a result. On a bicycle I generally consider the front brake the only worthwhile way to stop. I’ll occasionally use the rear brake just to keep the cables lose and the rear brakes clean but in general I regard it as solely a backup in case my front brake cable fails. If you’re lucky you can get 1/4 the stopping power out of your rear brake as you can from your front. I would imagine on e-bikes the rear brake would be more effective due to the lower center of gravity.

  • Flakker

    This is the guy who made it legal to park in front of curb cuts intended for pedestrians, including the disabled. Which I actually assumed was illegal under the ADA, but New York City is clearly the Greatest City In The World amirite

  • Larry Littlefield

    Do you feel the same way about the engineer’s assessment that the bridge needs to be replaced that many feel about scientists’ statements about global warming?

    If not, then you are asking about the income distribution effects of having the bridge eventually become unreliable and shut down, to the detriment of moderate income workers in Westchester, Rockland and Orange Counties (the rich ones work in Manhattan for the most part).

    Serves them right?

  • Jeff

    I use only my front brake when I _need_ to stop, but for the simple purpose of easier maintenance, I try to use both brakes equally (so favoring the rear brake when I simply want to reduce speed, for example). I’d rather the brakes wear evenly and only have to bother replacing brake pads (albeit two sets) half as often as I would if I used only the front brake.

  • bolwerk

    What assessment? AIUI the net present cost of simply maintaining the current bridge in a safe working state, though expensive, was exceeded by the net present cost of building the new bridge. Without cross-Hudson rail, the new TZB was nothing more than a vanity project pushed to the front of the line ahead of more important projects.

    Engineers can (un?)reasonably disagree on specific project assessments too. Climate scientists, broadly speaking anyway, face too much unassailable evidence that we have some, uh, problems.

  • Kevin Love

    “We don’t have a moral obligation to conduct ourselves so that we can’t possibly cause harm to others even when they behave in dangerously unpredictable and, indeed, legally proscribed ways.”

    Kevin’s comment:
    Are you aware that children live in this city? Yes, children do behave in unpredictable ways. This is generally called, “being a normal child.”

    Those who are adults have a responsibility to avoid hurting children who are behaving in normal child ways. Particularly when operating a motor vehicle, which causes two orders of magnitude more harm to pedestrians, but also when cycling.

  • Larry Littlefield

    DeBlasio is trying to save a few bucks and score a few points by saying that maybe the 14th Street tube doesn’t need to be shut down for repairs.

    Given that everyone seems to hate “hipsters” anyway, what is the income distribution effect of just ignoring the problem until the tube fails with no federal money to fix it?

  • Simon Phearson

    I would certainly agree that it is prudent and advisable to take extra care when operating vehicles in any space where children are likely to be present or where they can readily be seen, but I wouldn’t go so far as to agree that we have a moral obligation to take this extra degree of care just because we are adults and they are children. Dogs and other animals behave unpredictably, as well; does this fact, in itself, impose an additional duty of care?

    Children are not entitled to a special status of moral consideration that they somehow lose when they reach a certain age. Insofar as they cannot appreciate all of the consequences of their actions, they are perhaps entitled to a certain exemption from personal responsibility. But a child who darts into traffic from between two cars is no less a threat to my safety than a full-grown adult, is no more foreseeable, is no more avoidable, etc. The primary moral obligation to look after them falls on their parents and guardians. As a stranger, my responsibilities to them are the same as they are to any other human.

  • Joe R.

    I used to try to do that more than I do now. The reason I stopped is because the rear wheel goes out of true a lot more than the front. Quite often that means the rear brake will continue contacting the rear wheel in spots even after I release it. I hardly ever replace brake pads anyway, so no big deal if the front and rear wear out at different times. In fact, more often than not my pads dry out before they wear out, so I do in fact end up replacing both at the same time.

  • bolwerk

    Not sure what that has to do with the above, but income…as in personal income? I doubt there is any significant effect. It’s one crossing. When it fails or shuts down, people will adjust. People with the means might move if they can (I’m working on it). Probably doesn’t affect the MTA’s income much either, except maybe to move trips to other less efficient services.

    Think we’re well past just hipsters on the L Train though. It’s yuppies and yupsters now too. Williamsburg is where the well off people pushed out of Manhattan by the plutocrats go.

  • Vooch

    discounted MetroCard plan would cost $70 million annually – same money could build 140 miles of PBLs every year. I’ll argue that building 140 miles of PBLs for 5 years ( 700 miles total ); would enhance the mobility of poverty stricken NYrs far more than a discounted metro card system.

    NYC currently has less than 70 miles of useful PBLs. Adding 700 miles of PBLs would transform mobility in NYC