Today’s Headlines

  • Russianoff, Quinn: MTA Needs to Use Stim Funds to Maintain Service (News)
  • Meanwhile, Stim Cash for MTA Mega-Projects Barely Trickling Out (WNYC)
  • Driver, Chased By Cops, Kills Documentary Editor Karen Schmeer on UWS (NYT, ATWT)
  • Elmhurst Ped Summit: Docs, Not NYPD, Doing the Detective Work on Injury Data (Queens Chron)
  • Brooklyn CB18 Accepts Congestion as Fact of Life, Asks for Ped Bridge Over Flatbush Ave (Post)
  • Carmakers Try to Make Crashes Less Deadly: The Sordid Details (TreeHugger)
  • Electric Bikes an $11 Billion Global Industry (NYT)
  • Retailers Finally Arrive at St. George Ferry Terminal, But No Mom-and-Pops (NY1)
  • Ashford UK’s Award-Winning Shared Space, One Year On (How We Drive)
  • One More Reason Idling Is a Bad Idea, Especially If You Drive a Patrol Car (News)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Larry Littlefield

    “This is nothing like the irresponsible budgeting practices of the 1970s. There, the city convinced the federal government to allow the use of $88 million earmarked for the construction of a subway tunnel as a loan to underwrite the transit fare. Here, we are not talking about a New York exception. We’re looking to make use of national policy on stimulus funds.”

    So it’s OK to repeat the practices that led to the collapse of public services in New York City in the 1970s, because this time it is happening nationwide? And yes, the debt and pension practices that led to soaring taxes and collapsing public services in NYC in the 1970s have been repeated here, and also in many other parts of the nation.

    By the way, according to the Wall Street Journal on Saturday, the Obama Administration will propose that Build America Bonds (right) be used to pay for operating costs also. So not only will federal debt be used for local operating costs, but the MTA could borrow for operating costs too.

    The article is here behind a pay wall. But it says that as part of a plan to make the “Build America Bonds” permanent, they would be allowed to be used for operating costs.

  • BicyclesOnly

    Schmeer killing:

    What moral do you draw from this story?

    The moral that cars are as lethal as guns and should not be freely distributed to anyone who can show a driver’s license.

    Here’s an analogy: asbestos. For hundreds of years, the unparalleled fire-retardant powers of asbestos were known and used to safeguard human life. It was only in the early twentieth century that the health risks of exposure to asbestos–asbestosis and certain forms of cancer–was first suspected. These suspicions were only confirmed in the 1950s and 1960s, after hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to asbestos, at work and at home through the use of myriad consumer goods that contained the stuff. Due to long latency periods, many exposed developed disease and even died before the government passed strict use controls in 1972.

    At about the same time, U.S.courts adopted rules of strict liability that required the hundreds of businesses that used asbestos in their products to compensate persons harmed by exposure to those products. This strict liability regime apportioned regardless of whether the manufacturer behaved intentionally, recklessly, or negligently with respect to the harm its products might cause users. The legal justification for strict liability was, in most cases, the outcome of “risk -utility analysis”–courts determined that the risks posed by asbestos use outweighed the utility as a matter of law, and so it was unreasonable per se for those companies to use asbestos in their products prior to 1972. Billions of dollars were paid to asbestos victims (and to a good many others who fraudulently alleged that they were harmed by asbestos).
    The bankruptcy of industrial giant Johns-Manville (and more recently, just about every other major building materials manufacturer active prior to 1972) followed.

    The World Trade Center was under construction at the time asbestos use was phased out. Lower floors of the twin towers were fireproofed, but upper floors were not. I’ve heard professional structural enginers opine that the towers would not have collapsed on 9/11 had they been fully fireproofed with asbestos as similar buildings constructed during the 1960s had been.

    My point is not that it was bad to strictly regulate and largely ban asbestos use. Decisionmakers back in the 1970s made a trade-off that may have saved lives on balance, even if lives on 9/11 were lost as a result. But why can’t today’s decisionmakers look objectively at the risks of widespread auto use as was done with asbestos, instead of just considering the utility and throwing up their hands and saying, “don’t go out of you house”? Strict regulation of auto use will preserve most of the benefits of the technology, but save lives.

  • The pictures of Ashford’s shared spaces don’t seem to do it justice. Any chance Clarence Eckerson and the StreetFilms team can visit and make a video? I’m sure it would be very valuable to all of us.


  • Marty Barfowitz

    This Upper West Side police chase fatality is an outrage of the highest order. There needs to be a press conference. We need to call Ray Kelly and Mayor Bloomberg to task for this. Someone needs to be held responsible. The NYT story raises a number of important questions:

    1. Why is the NYPD running a high-speed car chase down Broadway in the middle of the Upper West Side at 8pm on a Friday evening? The NYPD supposedly does not do high-speed car chases, as policy. Why in the world were officers engaging in this deadly conduct? They may as well have been running down Broadway firing their guns. The result is, sadly, the same.

    2. Why isn’t the New York Times asking these questions? Their coverage of this story is utterly pathetic.

    3. Did the talented editor of some of my favorite documentary films really have to die to pursue unarmed shoplifters who stole a few items from a freaking CVS pharmacy?! Really!? Was it worth it, NYPD? Is this what “broken windows” policing has evolved into?

    4. And most important: Why does the NYPD keep doing these deadly high-speed chases and why do they keep lying about it? This incident is part of a pattern of conduct:

    Feb. 17, 2009
    NYPD maintains it did not chase car prior to deadly Staten Island wreck

    May 21, 2009
    NYPD Denies High-Speed Chase in Death of Greenpoint Mom

    June 30, 2009
    Report: NYPD Cruiser Hits Eight Pedestrians


    I do not want the NYPD to continue to perform like this in my community or any community. I want to see Ray Kelly held accountable this time — or, hell, at least forced to answer the questions this incident raises.

  • Brooklyn

    Marty, I wouldn’t rush to judgment about the cops’ behavior in the chase — it wasn’t the cop car that hit this poor woman. I doubt that there was some bumper-to-bumper French-connection style chase going on.

  • Marty Barfowitz


    I agree that we need more facts in this case. But I am hardly rushing to judgment. I am responding to the facts as reported in the New York Times story:

    The police had been chasing the car, which matched the description of the shoplifters’ getaway car given by a clerk at the drugstore, at 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Patrol officers tried to pull the car over, but the driver eluded them, hitting another automobile on 87th Street before running down Ms. Schmeer.

    And I’m responding to the fact that this is the fourth such case that has been reported in NYC in the last 9 months.

    But the facts reported by the NYT are that there was a police car chase on the Upper West Side at 8pm that killed an innocent civilian. The police were chasing (apparently) unarmed shoplifters who stole some over-the-counter medicines from a CVS.

    If these facts are true, then the NYPD acted improperly and this is, in my opinion, is an outrage that needs to be treated with as much seriousness as we’d treat an improper discharge of a police officer’s gun.

  • Bicycles Only and Marty are right to be outraged. Just two days before the police chase, the Mayor, with NYPD in the room, basically said, “one traffic fatality is too many”.

    Schizophrenic City Government at work.

    NYPD: Instead of speeding to catch criminals, catch criminals in the act of speeding and prosecute them.

  • Marty’s gonna be Streetsblog poster of the month two months in a row. I’d suggest mailing that post to the Times, Post, and Mayor, if I weren’t beyond cynical.


    quoting for truth and eloquence

  • One more thing: if Karen Schmeer had been hit by a driver who was merely speeding, and not fleeing a crime, there wouldn’t have been a 2nd-degree murder charge.

    Most likely, there wouldn’t have been any charge at all.

  • IsaacB

    NYPOST re the Ave U footbridge> Once those cars come, it will become virtually impossible for pedestrians to cross Flatbush Avenue, Needle explained.

    Translate: “We’re gonna have to cut back on “walk” intervals to accommodate the cars.”

    When I was younger, the southbound buses would make a u-turn and drop you off at the entrance of KP (Alexander’s, LOL). Do they still do this? Is part of the plan to kill this and substitute a foot-bridge?