No Place Safe For Pedestrians Amid Rash of Sidewalk Crashes

First responders on the scene of this morning’s deadly crash in Chinatown.

A string of curb-jumping, vehicle-on-pedestrian violence has left one person dead and 24 injured since Friday, according to published reports. Streetsblog has a request into NYPD’s public information office and Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne to determine if the recent spate of crashes will spur the city to adopt stricter enforcement of traffic laws and sterner prosecution of offenders.

In one crash, an un-licensed driver steered his SUV onto a Midtown sidewalk, hitting 10 pedestrians. The perpetrator, Estabannie Sanchez, was led away in handcuffs. The local CBS News crew spoke to people at the scene:  

"We basically heard a noise behind us and turned around and the jeep
was already on the pavement, on the sidewalk, all wheels," said witness
Ian Cairns.

"There was a lady under the front, a guy on the side, two underneath the back wheel," another witness said.

pinned under the vehicle was a little boy, helped by people like Eliete
Alvarez, who hurt his neck when the vehicle sent him into a truck.

CBS also reported on two other sidewalk crashes in Manhattan this weekend. In Harlem, a livery cab driver struck a 55-year-old woman and crashed into a bank. And on the Upper East Side, an elderly man mistook the gas for the brake, then drove into seven pedestrians. The only citation mentioned in the report was given to the livery driver, for talking on his cell phone.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn Saturday a 16-year-old driver plowed into a Flatbush sidewalk, leaving a 2-year-old in critical condition and seriously injuring three others. The driver was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

The fifth and most recent curb jump occurred this morning, when a Fung Wah bus, reportedly rear-ended by a dump truck, crashed into a bank, killing one and injuring four.

The coverage on CBS has generally taken the perspective of pedestrians, but in one report the correspondent tries to make sense of the violence with analysis that places more blame on the sun for shining than on drivers for their dangerous actions.

One theory is that because of the warm weather, more people are on the sidewalks, as people drive recklessly.

Photo: Gothamist

  • most curb jumping happens at intersections. a simple solution is to deploy bollards, at least at the intersections of high ped volume streets. as in many european cities. see this T.A. report from last year

  • Sure makes crane collapses seem like a minor threat when people are getting mowed down at this kind of rate, eh?

    And the city is going to do exactly what about it? Why do I think the City Council isn’t going to convene any special hearings or reform the driver-enforcement department?

  • Paul Steely White, I agree but you have to be careful. I know where I live they put up a new island like TA recommends which forced bikes out of the shoulder and into traffic. I think bollards are a great idea if they are biking friendly. Also, some higher curbs (assuming these happened at some of the older dilapidated ones) might have helped in all cases but the bus.

  • I’m intrigued by the coincidence of this thread here and a thread about competing groups in Central Park at the Brian Lehrer Show today. The discussion at WNYC attracted the usual slew of anti-bike comments that go roughly like “Two years ago a biker was rude to a friend of a friend of my cousin, therefore bikes are more dangerous than cars.”

    I’m hearing this a lot, sometimes even from smart and educated people, and I’m wondering whether it would make sense to counter this by juxtaposing all bike-on-pedestrian accidents over, say, the past year with a list of car-on-pedestrian fatalities that have an additional freakish aspect to them, like today’s bus crashing into a bank, or a curb-jumping cab killing a pedestrian just outside a restaurant. The point would be that even if you restrict your attention to car accidents with an additional ridiculous property, you still see a lot more carnage than that caused by bikes.

    I’m not sure whether this would be an effective way of dealing with the “bikes are worse than cars” meme, but it might be worth a try. Any thoughts?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    It must have been the full moon last week but there was an abnormally high abundance of deadly pedestrian crashes in New Jersey last week as well. See:

    Avalon Police Investigate Hit-and-Run Crash; Two Injured
    Cape May County Herald • Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Manasquan High School student, 18, fatally struck by train in Spring Lake
    Asbury Park Press • Friday, June 20, 2008

    Fair Lawn teen struck walking to school
    The Record • Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Police vehicle strikes pedestrian on Route 9
    The Star-Ledger • Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Trace suspect in fatal WNY hit-run
    The Jersey Journal • Friday, June 20, 2008

    Hit-and-run suspect leaps into river in Newark
    The Star-Ledger • Monday, June 16, 2008
    Body of hit-and-run suspect is pulled from Passaic River in Newark
    The Star-Ledger • Wednesday June 18, 2008

    Man charged with leaving scene of fatal accident
    South Jersey News Online • Tuesday June 17, 2008

    Mother, 2 children struck by Jeep in Perth Amboy
    The Star-Ledger • Tuesday June 17, 2008

    Police identify man killed by truck in Linden
    The Star-Ledger • Wednesday June 18, 2008

    Hit and run in West Deptford Sunday morning
    South Jersey News Online • Sunday, June 15, 2008

    Bicyclist remains critical after he collided with car
    Daily Record • Friday, June 20, 2008

    Train hits, kills woman on tracks
    Bicyclist hit by vehicle
    Asbury Park Press • Monday, June 16, 2008

  • galvo

    sounded like the dumptruck was being operated at a dangerous speed and the driver was not able to maintain control. The dump truck drivers, drive like the independent garbage truck drivers, out of control
    traffic calming measures should be implemented at all these hazardous bridge exits.
    20 mph speed limits are needed.

  • I was shocked by the number of pedestrian accidents that happened that day. 3 separate incidents in one day?!

    If this doesn’t draw the cities attention to the dangers of having so many cars in such a densely populated area, then I don’t know what will.

    People should be outraged, and should demand a change in the priority given to motor vehicles in our cities.


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