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75-Year-Old Man on Crutches, Wearing Reflective Vest, Killed in Manhattan

4:51 PM EDT on May 8, 2012

A 75-year-old man on crutches was killed while trying to cross First Avenue on the Upper East Side this morning.

According to reports, the victim, who was wearing a reflective vest, crossed in front of a stopped box truck at First at 89th Street at approximately 8:20 a.m. When the signal changed, the victim was caught in the street.

Gothamist has this statement from NYPD:

The traffic light changed from red to green and a truck standing (northbound on 1st Ave) at the traffic light waved the pedestrian to cross. Another vehicle also traveling northbound on First Ave began to move causing the pedestrian to fall back into the path of the truck's rear tire. The operator of the truck believed the pedestrian had completed crossing the street and proceeded to drive, striking the pedestrian.

A witness told City Room: "The truck, from Ace Party Rental, was not going fast, just inching forward, but, unaware that the man had fallen beneath, the driver struck him." No summonses were issued, police told the Times.

Though there are many unknowns, if the crash unfolded as described it is as much as anything another indictment of the absolutely unforgiving nature of New York City streets. When a vulnerable user feels the need to don a reflective vest to protect himself from drivers and, to paraphrase the Times, it still isn't enough, your system is broken.

DOT has been building pedestrian refuges on First Avenue in the 60s as part of the East Side protected bike lane project. The safer redesign, which gives pedestrians shorter crossing distances, will extend up to 125th Street, but the construction timetable is unclear. It's safe to say, however, that work would have proceeded faster if not for the misguided resistance of a few businesses along the route.

This fatal crash occurred in the 19th Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Inspector Matthew A. Whelan, the commanding officer, head to the next precinct community council meeting. The 19th Precinct council meetings happen at 7:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month at the precinct station house, 153 E. 67th Street. Call the precinct at 212-452-0600 for information.

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