Eyes on the Street: Driver Shatters Storefront on Lafayette

Photo: Christa Orth

We’re still filling in the details on this one, but here’s a look at the Gold + Williams furniture storefront on Lafayette and Kenmare in SoHo this afternoon. It looks like the driver kept going straight on westbound Kenmare, even though the street ends.

This block is very close to Streetsblog HQ and gets a lot of foot traffic during lunch hour. We’re checking in with NYPD and FDNY to see if anyone got hurt. Initial accounts reported by Gothamist suggest that, incredibly, no one was injured.

Wall Street Journal reporter Ted Mann adds this piece of background:

De-motorization of NYC streets can’t happen fast enough.

  • Anonymous

    This driver must have been really pissed about bike share.

  • I hope someone has the clock ticking on how long it takes the NYPD to take on the role of defense attorney for this guy and say this wasn’t criminally negligent driving.

  • This is such an awful intersection. Can’t tell you how many close calls I’ve had, on foot and bicycle, with drivers turning onto Lafayette to get to the tunnel.

  • Guest

    Sean Sweeney was there for a Fox5 interview, screeching that Citibike did it.

  • Sean Sweeney

    This is just across the street from narrow Cleveland Place, where DOT wants to site 43 bike rentals.

    DOT claims it is a safe location. This accident belies DOT claim.

    Yet despite pleas from CB2, local residents and businesses, DOT refuses to move the BikeShare up one block where the street is wider, less congested and less dangerous.

    DOT says they will move it if there is a problem.

    DOT: is this accident, is this location, a problem or not? Must someone die first?

  • By your logic, Sean, there should not be a sidewalk at this location. I mean…

    Why are we putting things like sidewalks and furniture stores where motorists will run into them? Doesn’t DOT realize that putting anything besides cars on the street will lead to chaos, maiming, and death? We need to give cars their own physical plane of existence, so we can all be safe. Pedestrian-free streets now!

  • I saw my first confirmation that “no criminality” was suspected I think three hours after the “accident”. Is NYPD going soft? Or was it more complicated because the car had damaged so much fancy furniture and plate glass, rather than just taking out a few pedestrians? Motorists should demand exoneration in no more than 90 minutes.

  • Anonymous

    i bet he was texting while driving.

  • Eric McClure

    I typically try to refrain from name-calling, but Mr. Sweeney is an.

  • The tragedy for people like Sean Sweeney, of course, is that they were so involved in the lengthy consultation process, had lots of sensible arguments worked out and didn’t just start screaming when building work started and it was too late. That’s the pity.

  • Why exactly is this an unsafe location, Sean? This “accident” suggests cars are the dangerous items, not bikes.

  • Anonymous

    We should just ban people from Soho’s streets. Just way too dangerous for them.

    ***

    Seriously though Sean,

    It’s only a matter of time before we go full on pedestrian plaza in Soho. I know I know . . . us bike zealots. But you see how successful pedestrian plazas are in other retail areas. Times Square rents have equaled 57th and 5th ave for crying out loud. Yes, it won’t be completely pedestrian (will still need fire trucks, deliveries, buses) . . . but it’ll be severely restricted to motor vehicles.

    And look at Soho! The sidewalks are always packed! Heck, I rarely shop there anymore because I’m always bunched in on the sidewalk. Just imagine if all those touriests/peds/shoppers weren’t so packed in. If they could sit and relax like in Times Square/Harold Square.

    Talk to your friend Dan Biederman. He’ll tell you that you’ve got nothing to fear except lower vacancy rates and higher rents and property values.

  • I’m not sure how someone driving a *car* into a glass storefront can be a reason not to have . . . bikeshare.

    If there is a logical reason to move the bike share station, you certainly diminish it with your hysteria.

  • Sean Sweeney

    Actually, Ben, I got an A in Logic.
    How well did you do?

    Anyway, your attempt at sardonic humor failed. Miserably.

    Do we not all agree that this is a dangerous intersection?
    Yes or no, Ben?

    If it is dangerous, then why is DOT insisting on putting 43 bike rentals at the nexus of intersection, the greatest number of stations of any in CB2, if not the city?

    Would you and Streetsblog join with us, CB2, the local residents and businesses in asking DOT to simply move the Bikeshare station a mere one block north, away from this mayhem – a nexus where two main thoroughfares intersect (Williamsburg Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge traffic) – before some poor bikeshare renter is injured or killed?

    Meanwhile, downtown activists, led by the SoHo Alliance, for 25 years have been agitating to reverse the iniquitous reversed, one-way Verrazano Bridge toll – the root cause of the excess traffic traveling west here, like this car.

    Yet, you, streetsblog, TA, and DOT have been mostly absent from our efforts. Why?

    Is it because snarky, jejune snideness behind your editor’s desk and simplistic solutions to complex, real-life problems are a lot easier?

  • Sean Sweeney

    Actually, Ben, I got an A in Logic.
    How did you do?

    Anyway, your attempt at sardonic humor failed. Miserably.

    Do we not all agree that this is a dangerous intersection?
    Yes or no, Ben?

    If it is dangerous, then why is DOT insisting on putting 43 bike rentals at the nexus of intersection, the greatest number of stations of any in CB2, if not the city?

    Would you and Streetsblog join with us, CB2, the local residents and businesses in asking DOT to simply move the Bikeshare station a mere one block north, away from this mayhem – a nexus where two main thoroughfares intersect (Williamsburg Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge traffic) – before some poor bikeshare renter is injured or killed?

    Meanwhile, downtown activists, led by the SoHo Alliance, for 25 years have been agitating to reverse the iniquitous reversed, one-way Verrazano Bridge toll – the root cause of the excess traffic traveling west, like this car.

    Yet, you, streetsblog, TA, and DOT have been mostly absent from our efforts. Why?
    Is it because snarky, jejune snideness behind your editor’s desk and simplistic solutions to real-life problems is a lot easier?

  • Guest

    We also need to remove buildings, it seems, since this BMW would up IN THE BACK of the store.

    Pave over the island of Manhattan and leave only Sean Sweeney’s apartment, plus the residences of anyone on his mailing list. It seems that’s the only way he’ll be happy.

  • Sean Sweeney

    It is unsafe because it is at the nexus two major thoroughfares, of particularly vehicles coming from LI and New England en route to NJ.

    Why would anyone – DOT – want to encourage people to place themselves smack dab in the center of the street of such a dangerous intersection?
    Additionally, the local fire department chief has insisted it is a dangerous intersection for their trucks to navigate. Yet, DOT refuses to move it a few feet, to a safer location.

    Bikeshare won’t make that intersection safer. The reason it is so congested and dangerous is because of the reversed Verrazano toll. However, DOT wants nothing to do with reversing that.

    Meanwhile, traffic congestion and accidents continue, while DOT fiddles.

  • pwbnyc

    Hey I got an A in logic…well game theory, but that is a logic class so it should count. Anyway, placing the dock at that intersection actually serves as a traffic calming measure. It “day lights” the intersection because it is easier to see cross traffic and pedestrians through the bikes than a parked car or van, and is presence should serve to cause drivers to slow down as they approach it – there will be a painted lane market around it that will serve to mark and narrow slightly the travel lane. In any event a car pulling a 90 degree turn and slamming into a store can happen anywhere. It is the result of a driver losing control. This is at least the third such incident this past week, with sadly a worker in Queens being killed in one. And of course the station is not yet in place so we can agree it was not the cause. Thus, it is a fallacy to suggest this accident supports your position.

  • The only direct highway connection between the VZ and the WB bridges is the BQE, which doesn’t have a direct ramp connection between its northbound lanes and the WB bridge. You would have to exit the BQE and travel on local streets in order to loop back onto an approach to the WB bridge. All considered, time is money, I don’t see why so many cars would take that traffic-clogged roundabout route just to dodge a toll.

    And if they do take that route and drive recklessly in the process, I don’t see why you’re primarily concerned about the bikeshare docks. Don’t you understand: EVERY INTERSECTION where a reckless driver travels is a dangerous intersection. This one intersection is not the problem, and should not be a problem at all.

    To be honest, your fixation on criticizing elements of bicycle infrastructure in your neighborhood, at the exclusion of discussing any other element of street travel and safety, makes you look like an extremist. You don’t have to be a transpo advocate to see how you could come off as unflattering and unreasonable.

  • Guest

    Game theory. That explains it!

    That’s all this is to Sean. A game. It doesn’t matter how he does it or what logic he uses. If he can beat DOT, TA, and Streetsblog, he wins.

    By
    the way, if there’s so much “excess traffic” here due to the one-way
    tolling on the VZ bridge, then how are drivers able to reach speeds
    that send them crashing uncontrollably into a furniture store?

    I give this logic an F.

  • This crash location is on the route between the free Williamsburg Bridge and the free outbound Holland Tunnel, and consequently it does have a ton of traffic. Some days it is non-stop gridlock.

    In any case, the bike-share station is a block removed from the torrent of free bridge-and-tunnel traffic. It’s not the same location as this crash.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Sweeney,

    You answered your own question. The bike share station in your neighborhood is located where it is because it is at “a nexus where two main thoroughfares intersect.” This is exactly where a bike share station should be to make it an accessible, robust transportation choice for all New Yorkers.

    Might I add that your personal attack tone is tres tacky, not at all Soho, which I understand you represent in some capacity. Are you a professional or a crackpot?

  • Ben Kintisch

    Mr. Sweeney,
    I will happily support any proposal to alter the tolls to reduce the amount of cars lumbering through SoHo. I think the Sam Schwartz plan is a good one, which has been profiled extensively on this blog.
    As another commenter mentioned though, a bike share station is a helpful safety measure on this street and others like it. The station will improve visibility (through daylighting) and, we hope, encourage more folks to bike to SoHo rather than drive and chase after scarce parking.

  • Sean Sweeney

    Dear Mr. Kintisch,
    ” a bike share station is a helpful safety measure on this street… The station will improve visibility (through daylighting) ”

    Thank you for bringing that important point up. That is the crux of this issue.

    For decades there has been “No Parking Anytime” signage on Cleveland Place (where the 43 bike rentals are proposed and directly across from this accident), because DOT realizes that this is a congested bottleneck that needs to be clear, open, and highly visible.

    In other words it is already daylighted!

    Placing a large bike hub where cars are now prohibited will reduce visibility, will reduce the daylight, thus creating a dangerous situation. We do not want that, nor do you.
    Why DOT wishes to do this, only they know.

    Perhaps if someone from DOT is reading this, they would be gracious enough to provide the answer that we all seek.

    However, do not hold your breath. DOT has obstinately refused to address the local fire department, community board, community leaders or elected officials who have all questioned the wisdom of placing a bike hub in the bull’s eye of a proven danger zone.

    All too often we witness the hubris of a bureaucracy getting in the way of common sense.

  • Anonymous

    For decades there has been “No Parking Anytime” signage on Cleveland Place (where the 43 bike rentals are proposed and directly across from this accident), because DOT realizes that this is a congested bottleneck that needs to be clear, open, and highly visible.

    I’m sure that this is the one spot in the city where no parking rules are followed scrupulously rather than simply making it easier for that area to be jammed with cars and trucks day and night, but might I note that bikeshare racks are much lower to the ground and themselves significantly more full of daylight than anything I’ve ever seen that’s called a car? And unlike those very scary and widely obeyed signs, bikeshare racks prevent people from threatening other people’s lives in service of private convenience by physically blocking additional parking.

    But of course DOT, failing to soar to Sweeney-like heights of wisdom, does not grasp that difference. It’s not like those people have *studied* this stuff or something. I know when I hear JSK talk, I think “Bah–a C student, at best. Someone get me Sweeney!”

  • Yes, clearly bikes are the problem here and not, I dunno, cars. Lack of enforcement. “No criminality.” etc. There’s a law against riding a bike on the sidewalk, why not driving a car onto it or into a building or into people? Fucking mayhem.

  • This is blocks from where I work. Things are getting way too out-of-control. Unbelievable.

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    Who is saying no to a bike share station in the Petrosino Square area? All we asked for is that it be placed at the northeast corner of Lafayette & Spring, which is closer to the subways and also meets the FDNY’s safety test, which the Cleveland/Kenmare location does not. Certainly you’re not claiming the FDNY has no expertise in what works for fire trucks and responding to fires. I don’t get the problem with the move. After all, its closer to the originally-planned location at the tip of the park itself.

    The only person who has pled inconvenience because his car couldn’t get to him is the wheelchair-bound gentleman who lives on that block. Otherwise, the Petrosino Square community has simply asked to be respected, by saying, please, not where we designed our tiny park to house sculpture installations and not where our knowledge of our neighborhood tells us a regular bottleneck will be worsened. All we are asking is that the station be moved about 30 feet from where the it was first planned to be placed. And, by the way, it will displace car parking there. I know that in other communities people have complained about losing parking spots, but not here: we are recommending a place where car parking will be displaced.

    And, by the way, I totally support Sam Schwartz’s plan.

    As to the car going thru the store window, unless there was brake failure while making the turn from Kenmare to Lafayette, it had to be doing something illegal.

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    Agreed. Aside from the big picture (Verrazano-Narrows Bridge), too many cars, etc. , we’ve been begging the city to provide regular traffic-control officers and to stop Kenmare from being a thru-truck route. We’ve also suggested removing parking spots by putting in No Standing Anytime Signs/No standing except commercial vehicle signs, etc. We’ve asked also for “No Bus Layover” signs and “No Honking Signs” and also “Don’t block the Box Signs” along with enforcement of those We did get some signage changes….but nothing else.

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    I’ve definitely had my differences with Sean, but he is right in that the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge one-way toll causes cars and trucks to go through NY’s SoHo (and Chinatown)…in NY’s central city. I remember the day the toll went into effect…worked at 75 Varick Street just by the Holland Tunnel and walked to work from my Broome Street home. That day, traffic increased a hundred fold…and its never gotten better. My walking commute went from a 7-minute walk to a 10-minute one because of the traffic. The Draft EIS showed that this would happen, that the pollution levels would go up, that the MTA would lose millions a year, etc….if you don’t believe me, I still have them. The Alliance has been active in fighting that and in other traffic calming matters. It supported me when I suggested No Standing Anytime on Spring St. between Broadway and Lafayette. It has advocated for repairs of crosswalks. Perhaps you have only been tuned into your own small area of interests, but to accuse Sean of not being interested in the larger picture…well that seems to me to be calling the kettle black.

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    Yes, the proposed station is a (very short) block east of the accident site. But you are mistaken otherwise. It is right smack in the middle of that snake of immobilized cars you mention– at the corner of Kenmare and Cleveland. You must notice, due to your office location, that there are backups at certain times of the day on Cleveland Place!

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    I live on Broome Street. PLEASE make it a pedestrian plaza. I don’t care where the cars going to the Holland Tunnel end up. Just as long as they are not on my street. (Which reminds me, just don’t start the plaza on my block because the honking will drive me mad…maybe start it at the Bowery.) And the stores can get their deliveries at night! After all, I and my neighbors don’t really have to sleep…

    Besides that, you don’t have to worry about buses. We don’t have any.

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    I can’t tell if you are trying to be sarcastic or not, but the Petrosino Square community was actively involved in the DOT’s public consultation process. The problem was that (a) it was a flawed process, because the “population” sampled was skewed and (b) the DOT chose to ignore input from the Petrosino Square community, from the Parks Department, and from the FDNY.

  • Anonymous

    You’re making a straw man argument. Everyone who posts regularly on this site agree on the issues you described re: bridge/tunnel traffic and the incentives that lead to trucks using Manhattan as a transit-way to avoid tolls elsewhere.

  • Anonymous

    And that’s what makes it safer because right when Cleaveland Place becomes Lafayette, cars take off! And I know because I’ve been hit by a car on Lafayette (in the bike lane too!)

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    Cleveland, a northbound street, becomes Lafayette at Spring…which is where Lafayette splits…fully northbound north of Spring and fully southbound south of Spring. This is exactly where we are suggesting the station go. I know what you mean about being hit while in the bike lane there. I spent some time observing the trucks and cars turning from Spring onto Lafayette and saw that, when cars are parked in front of Spring St Natural (legal on weekends) the turning vehicles are forced into the bike lane. That is why we plan to ask DOT to forbid standing anytime except for commercial vehicles loading and unloading along the west side of Lafayette St. Do you think that would make it safer?

  • Sean,

    Tolls on the bridges are controlled by the MTA, a state agency – not DOT. I know you have a lot of beef with DOT but I ask that you direct your anger at the appropriate authorities.

    Lacking a two-way Verrazano toll, how would you suggest the city reduce risk of accident at this intersection? Even if bikeshare does not come in, the area will still be flooded with pedestrians.

    Keith

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    read Brian’s comments, then mine. No straw man here.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Mr. Sweeney,
    A bike share station is low to the ground, and quiet. A “no parking” sign is sometimes effective at keeping cars and vans away, but more often those zones are used as illegal double parking zones for private cars, vans and police cruisers. I’m guessing that sometimes the “no parking” sign is honored, but probably it is often blocked. Am I right on that point?

    A bike share station will never block visibility in the way that motorized vehicles do. That’s why a bike share station is a better way to daylight than a no parking zone.
    Even if we don’t agree on the details of the bike share station, I’m glad to see that we do agree on the concept of daylighting and improving visibility for pedestrians and cyclists, so our vulnerable street users are made safer from the dangers of cars and trucks.

    Thanks
    Mr. Kintisch

  • Lisa Bradshaw

    This is RIGHT where I walk, many times EACH day. frightening. looks like the driver didn’t notice the roadway goes left there, so intent on beating the other drivers? going too fast? on the cell phone? looking right so they wouldn’t get smashed by the downtown bearing cars and trucks, whose light it may have been… OUT OF CONTROL DRIVING ON A SIDEWALK. They will no doubt now put in one of those GIANT highway signs here, instead of slimming down the traffic.

    Of course, the building itself is a danger to pedestrians as it is frequently cordoned off due to falling ice.

    Too bad I didn’t have a camera when an 18-wheeler fell over going too fast around the next corner, probably trying to do the same thing: outstrip the other drivers, to get to their important red light, just ahead. One way toll on the Verrazano…the battle of the fierce cars vs the people carrying home groceries.

    The DOT has brilliantly outfoxed all the Petrosino Triangle people by putting those bike stations IN the triangle, the ‘art installation place’ I hear it called now, though we should have had a much larger PARK instead. SO those bike people will be safe on the sidewalk, not having to contend with street traffic as they have to every where else (West Broadway). Put in after dark. Very clever.

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