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Bicycle Safety

In Week of Carnage, Times Looks Askance at Broadway Traffic-Calming

2:15 PM EDT on August 26, 2008

Projects like Broadway Boulevard are intended, in part, to reduce auto-pedestrian conflicts.

Yesterday traffic agent Donnette Sanz was buried with her infant son. Two weeks ago, she was crossing a Bronx street on her lunch break when she was hit by a van and thrown under a school bus. Her unborn child was delivered prematurely when Sanz was taken to the hospital. He survived only eight days.

The day before Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly honored Sanz at her funeral in Baychester, a police cruiser was observed "doing doughnuts" in a park in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. According to a witness, the spinning patrol car barely missed two kids on tricycles. When informed of this, precinct higher-ups and an NYPD spokesman were unmoved.

Also yesterday, a 10-year-old cyclist was trapped on a median as motorists whizzed by. As he tried to get across the street he was hit by a Mercedes. The scene of the collision is either "not an accident-prone location" (NYPD) or the "worst corner in Queens" (neighborhood resident). The child suffered massive head injuries and remained unconscious at last report. Media accounts took pains to point out that the Mercedes "had the light."

And finally, in Park Slope, an 86-year-old grandfather was hit and killed on Fourth Avenue. Relatives say Antonio Torres was rendered unrecognizable by the collision. The motorist was cited for speeding.

Amid all this carnage and near-carnage, the New York Times dispatched metro reporter William Neuman to the new Broadway Boulevard pedestrian esplanade, apparently to ask lunchtime diners if they thought it was too dangerous to sit there.

Though it looks like it took some doing, Neuman eventually found his money quote:

"It’s a death trap," Mr. Sachinis, a network administrator for agarment company, said with a laugh. "It’ll be up for a month and thensomebody’ll get hit and they’ll take it down."

So instead of running a story that asks, say, why a public plaza at the crossroads of the world should ever be considered a "death trap," or putting Broadway Boulevard in the context of other pedestrian- and cyclist-minded improvements across the city, the Times paints the project as a novel intrusion into the rightful domain of speeding cars and trucks.

For our money quote, we turn to commenter Marty Barfowitz:

He's not going to walk down Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn the day after an86-yo man is mowed down and ask pedestrians standing on the sidewalk ifthey feel safe. But if he's forced to cover this apparently trivialBroadway crap, he's going to do it with a skeptical eye towards whatBloomy, Janette, DOT and these Streetsbloggy advocacy types are saying.

Not that we haven't seen it before.

Photo: zodak/Flickr

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