Today’s Headlines

  • Four More Years: Richard Brown and Robert Johnson Run Unopposed (WSJ)
  • Off-Board Fare Collection and Other SBS Features Start on the M86 Today (Post, News)
  • Citi Bike Expansion: WNYC Notes Station ScarcityWSJ Runs With Bikelash Angle
  • Tappan Zee Transit Line Announced, to Chagrin of Cuomo’s Thruway Director (Rockland Times)
  • DNA Wants to Know What Train Cardboard Cut-Out Cuomo Should Ride Next
  • Affordable Housing to Replace Hell’s Kitchen NYPD Parking Lot (DNA)
  • Queens: Driver Crashes Into Bar, Injuring Three (News); Speeding Driver Kills Self (News)
  • Drunk Driver Kills Queens Father and Two Children in Long Island Crash (NewsPost)
  • NYPD Releases Images of Hit-and-Run Cyclist Who Injured UES Senior (News)
  • The Post Is Really Concerned About Uber Drivers Losing Their Jobs
  • What’s Up With de Blasio’s Plan to Replace Horse Carriages With Electric Cars? (WSJ)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • JL
  • Jesse

    I was hoping the WSJ piece was written by Dorothy Rabinowitz

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Photo of Car that Killed rider and maimed 3 others this morning certainly appears to have been driving 40-45 MPH nearly double the speed limit.

  • Bolwerk

    Will Cuomo’s cutout be making an appearance on that Tappan Zee commuter bus?

  • Jesse

    This is the entire article. Not one mention of the driver. It’s all just an out-of-control autonomous car. I am convinced that the Daily News is just trolling us.

    Car fatally strikes bicyclist, injures 3 others in Brooklyn

    An out-of-control vehicle struck and killed a bicyclist and crashed into two cars in Brooklyn near the Barclays Center Monday, injuring at least three other people, cops said.

    The cyclist, a man in his 30s, was hit at Flatbush Ave. and Atlantic Ave. a little after 7 a.m., police said. A fire hydrant was ripped from the sidewalk in the collision. [Passive voice. Who hit the cyclist and ripped the fire hydrant out? I guess not a human being with any culpability.]

    The vehicle that struck the biker then hit two other cars, cops said. Of the three injured, one was in serious condition, one was in stable condition and one had minor injuries, officials said. [Are they talking about three injured cars here?]

  • Simon Phearson

    The Gothamist post includes a number of helpful comments that spell out what happened. It also manages to mention that the SUV was driven by someone.

    This “out of control” vehicle apparently started hitting cars a couple of blocks away, on Dean and 4th. How it got from there to Flatbush and 4th (which is where the cyclist’s body was laid out and the vehicle was stopped when it struck a street light on the north side of Flatbush) is anyone’s guess, but it looks like it must have gone the wrong way on the half-block stretch of 4th that slips off of Flatbush or mounted the sidewalk through there.

    My guess is that what started as a speed-driven hit and run at Dean at 4th became an incredibly reckless attempt to escape down streets the driver wasn’t familiar with – 4th was reconfigured here back in 2011, but the design could easily be misread by someone in a criminal hurry as to permit through traffic – ultimately resulting in sideswiping a cyclist proceeding southeast on Flatbush with zero reason to expect any car traffic from his right.

    Even if the car were truly “out of control” – “out of control” being the go-to exoneration for obviously reckless driving – we have to ask the question: why does this keep happening? It seems that someone is seriously injured or killed by “out of control” vehicles every other week. Do cars actually go “out of control” that often? Or is the problem here really one of driver inattention/incompetence mixed with excessive speed?

  • Joe R.

    Driver incompetence plain and simple. If we were licensing and training a person to operate any vehicle but a car with similar speed, size, weight, and power characteristics, doubtless we would be having months long training courses and periodic recertifications. Because we got the brain-dead idea back in the 1940s or 1950s that nearly everyone should be able to drive, we’ve dumbed down driver requirements to the point I’d say at least 75% of the people driving are grossly incompetent (and incapable of being made competent because they inherently lack some of the basic capabilities needed to safely drive). Most of the remaining 25% are just incompetent or perhaps undertrained but maybe half of them could be made competent with decent training.

  • Joe R.

    Well, at least they didn’t do the gratuitous mention of whether or not the dead cyclist was wearing a helmet, nor did they engage in the usual speculation he may have contributed to his own demise by violating some traffic law.

  • Simon Phearson

    I think that just means that he was wearing a helmet and complying with the law.

  • Reader

    NYPD officers and their stenographers in the Post have already exonerated the driver by claiming he had a seizure.

    http://nypost.com/2015/07/13/fatal-crash-near-brooklyn-arena/

    And thus such preventable tragedies will happen over and over again.

  • WalkingNPR

    The BS is strong with this one. So…he had a seizure and then still managed to keep driving the car, either in a post-ictal state or while still seizing, several blocks before crashing. Or did the seizure only start right before he hit the cyclist and the rest of the crashing into things and possibly driving the wrong way just counts as day-to-day driving oopsies?

  • Adrian

    I came upon this scene about 10mins after it happened I think. RIP the bicyclist, could have been any of us.

    Entirely related, 2 minutes earlier I saw an NYPD cruiser watch the driver in front of him go through a solid red at the very dangerous offset intersection at 5th avenue & Baltic/Park. Didn’t even think about doing anything about it.

  • Adrian

    According to a witness, after hitting the first car at 4th Avenue and Dean St, the driver backed up and then proceeded into oncoming traffic before hitting the bicyclist.

    I’m no doctor, but I’ve never heard of a seizure which temporarily stops to allow you to back-up your car.

  • djx

    “30 or 40 HP per ton of weight is all any vehicle ever needs. That’s more than sufficient to maintain highway speeds on upgrades commonly found on highways.”

    What about merging into moving traffic on highways? With that amount of power, in situations common on my wife’s commute, she and many other people would either have to wait a many many minutes to get onto the highway since there are not sufficient gaps between cars, or else just pull out in front of cars going 55 or 65mph and have them slow down to 30mph while the car slowly gets up to speed.

  • BBnet3000

    4th Ave actually wasn’t reconfigured here as far as I know of. The 4 moving lane/double parking lane configuration they did in 2011 doesn’t go all the way to Atlantic. Its a full 6 moving lanes at this location (as well as a marked bike route on the bike map!).

  • Alexander Vucelic

    The killing of 33,000 and Maiming of 2,500,000 Americans Every year Is worth saving a couple of minutes on your wife’s commute.

    Speed Kills

  • Inadequate infrastructure is also to blame, surely. If there’s precedent for victims winning judgments against municipalities/agencies for bad design leading to injury and death, why not try it here in NYC?

    http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Caltrans-Settles-S-Curve-Death-Lawsuit-for-700K-221845181.html

  • JamesR

    I don’t think vehicle performance is the issue here. More performance is always better than less performance, because it gives you options as a driver. Cars with a poor power to weight ratio can also be miserable to drive. I once owned an old 1990s Hyundai that was like this.

    If we were to treat driving the way that we should – like piloting a small aircraft, with all of the rights and responsibility that entails – then this problem would take care of itself. NTSB would be showing up at a crash like this one, for example, and the driver/pilot would likely never have privileges to operate their vehicle again.

  • Joe R.

    Have longer acceleration lanes, have the rightmost lane be used essentially for building up speed, or just have a lower speed limit like 40 mph for the right lane. How do semis and buses manage now? Most have power-to-weight ratios under 15 HP/ton.

    Note that with electric drive allowing nearly all of that power to get to the wheels the entire the vehicle is accelerating, 30 HP/ton gets you to 60 mph in well under 20 seconds. It’s not like you’ll be gathering speed for 2 minutes getting onto a highway.

    Also note here I’m referring to installed engine power. You could have a battery you tap for quick bursts of acceleration. That capability could also be disabled on local surface streets via GPS. Or you could have transponders which enable it only at highway merges.

    My main point though is 2 ton vehicles don’t need hundreds of installed HP. No sane driving cycle really requires you to get to highway speeds in much less than 15 or 20 seconds. If there are some outliers which do, it’s either a result of poor highway design, or poor driver training.

  • JamesR

    Re: today’s tragedy – isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Because that’s what this feels like. Next week, it will be someone else, and the week after, and the week after that, and so on ad infinitum.

    The only way forward is a culture change at NYPD so that we can get cops who are willing to actually enforce the laws. We don’t have the money or time to wait for every street to get redesigned into a woonerf or complete street or whatever. That is step #1 toward creating a driving culture that has zero tolerance toward this. I don’t know how we get from here to there.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    thank you for your reasoned response. Agreed that The priority should first be on driver accountability.

    however – 120 HP is perfectly reasonable for a 3,000lbs car. My first Cars all were under 100HP and They were more than safe for highway driving.

  • Joe R.

    The kicker here is when you do the math, unless you spend a good portion of your trip accelerating full tilt from a standstill to highway speeds there is no travel time difference between a Bugatti Veyron, and a semi, assuming of course similar cruising speeds.

    The only vehicles for which acceleration capability seriously affects travel times are subway and commuter trains. By their nature the quicker they accelerate back up to line speed, the less time the trip will take.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    James,

    The only Way to change NYPD Culture is get cops Out of their cars. As Long as They ‘live’ in Their cars, NYPD will remain car centric in Their culture.

    Cops in Most of NYC should be walking from their statio house to Their beat. It is usually faster for them to walk to Their beat area. Plus, Might save some Health Care costs too

  • Joe R.

    Fully agreed but we as a society show little desire for heading in this direction. So long as cars are largely operated by idiots, I’m all for “dumbing down” the capabilities of the car to match the driver.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    Joe,

    our colleague Is expressing The car Salesman argument that more power Is always better because it allows One to escape dangerous situations. it’s irrantional but people do believe it

  • Simon Phearson

    The reconfiguration I’m talking about is across Atlantic, between Atlantic and Flatbush. It used to have three northbound lanes for 4th, so that 4th would cross Atlantic and send drivers northwest on Flatbush. The bit between Atlantic and Flatbush, where the northbound lanes were, is a pedestrian area now – raised concrete and everything (lord knows it would just be tan paint and plastic bollards these days).

    It’s starting to sound like the cyclist was hit on Atlantic, but he somehow came to rest on Flatbush, which is where the SUV was also stopped. The only way they could have done that would have been to go the wrong way up the 4th Ave slip off of Flatbush, or over the pedestrian area, which generally lacks physical obstructions.

    You’re right that it’s on the bike map, as a “signed route.” I… don’t understand why they would do that. I wouldn’t ride 4th if I could at all help it.

  • JamesR

    Not just more HP, but bigger, better brakes and better handling as well. It’s the same reason why a carbon fiber road bike is so much more responsive than a Dutch cruiser.

    Put it this way.. I use every one of my car’s HP when merging on to the tiny onramps found in this city’s parkway system. I can’t even imagine doing it in a 50hp car. Part of this is because these parkways are carrying vehicles moving at a velocity that is way over the road’s original design speed. Look at the Bronx River Parkway as exhibit A for this.

    Fortunately, being that this is NYC, I don’t have to use my car as a daily driver, just as a weekend escape/errand vehicle.

  • Simon Phearson

    It really says something about the intersection and our enforcement priorities when the most recent Google streetview images capture five people running the red light at Flatbush/4th, including the streetview driver him/herself, who is also executing an illegal left turn off of Flatbush northbound onto 4th southbound, across two crosswalks with the “Walk” sign. Also notable: a minivan driver behind the streetview car who veers around the streetview car in order to run the red.

    I’m starting to think that even pedestrians should start carrying around U-locks.

  • c2check

    And just how are they supposed to walk places when there are all these squad cars blocking the sidewalks around the precinct houses?!

  • Joe R.

    I tend to think “design speed” is a very fluid concept depending upon the vehicle’s capabilities. In fact, on average highway speeds have been increasing by about 5 mph every decade since the 1960s, mostly because increased vehicle capabilities allow drivers to feel safe at higher speeds. Not much different with bikes, either. My late father’s Huffy 3-speed doesn’t feel that great going much over maybe 25 mph. In fact, it really seems mostly designed to go 15 mph or less. On the flip side, any of my road bikes feel just fine at any speed I can manage on them, even well past 40 mph.

    That said, at some point regardless of how fast drivers may feel cruising on a highway, entrance ramps need to account for the lowest powered vehicle. You or anyone else shouldn’t be forced to buy a vehicle which is otherwise ridiculously overpowered on account of poor highway design. Those tiny entrance ramps need to be reconfigured to account for the higher travel speeds on highways.

    Finally, while talking power-to-weight ratios I find it interesting that my power-to-weight ratio on a bike is sometimes more than enough for typical urban conditions. Near as I can tell, that would be about 2 to 2.5 HP/ton continuous, perhaps 8 to 10 HP/ton peak, highly dependent upon how I feel that day.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    None of These cars I owned ever felt underpowered;

    85 HP Mercedes Coupé
    90 HP ‘Porsche 912
    112HP VW Golf
    180 HP ‘Impala 4 door

    well Honestly The One that felt most underpowered was the Impala.

  • com63

    The bollards around the entrance to atlantic terminal very well could have saved some pedestrian’s lives in the crash this morning.

  • djx

    “Have longer acceleration lanes”

    Good idea! That’s surely pretty easy to do across our city and surrounding areas. You’ve solved it.

  • djx

    It’s not about saving a couple minutes be being able to due to the car being faster itself.

    It’s about not being able to merge onto a highway at all because your car is so slow it can’t get into the flow of traffic when traffic is heavy. It’s sitting there on on-ramp for many minutes at a time waiting and waiting and waiting till there is a gap large enough to pull out, While cars behind you wait too.

    You wait five minutes till a safe gap appears. Another car arrives 15 seconds behind you, has to wait till you go, and then wait for a gap him/herself The driver behind him waits that plus another five. And so on. Instead of a car getting on the highway every 15 seconds, it’s one every five minutes. As they back up on the ramp. Yeah, that’ll work fine. For sure.

    If your objective is to make using a car on highways in crowded areas (ie, around our city) nearly impossible, then you’ve done it.

  • djx

    Hmmm, two of those are well-designed sports/sporting cars and almost certainly can get to 40mph much faster than the SUV in question.

    So your comment is kind of funny.

  • djx

    THIS.

    Wanting a car that can easily merge into heavy but fast highway traffic is quite reasonable.

  • Joe R.

    You still really haven’t answered my question why 15 to 20 second acceleration times wouldn’t be adequate. You almost never start at 0 mph on a highway entrance ramp. More often than not you’re already moving at 30 to 40 mph on the service road. You start gassing it while you’re still on the service road, enter the ramp at 45 or 50. Now you just need to gain another 10 or 15 mph to merge with traffic.

    Point of fact there was one time I accidently got on a highway on my bike. I was drafting a large van which accelerated rather sedately, and apparently without incident, on to a crowded highway. I had enough power, on a bike, to match his acceleration. Granted, I was at my full capability, but that’s at best 1/3 the power-to-weight ratio I suggested. I drafted the van for one exit at about 60 mph, then got off the highway. Naturally, once I got out from behind the van I slowed like I hit a sand trap, but by then I was well into the exit and safe. My main point here is drivers very rarely use all, or even most, of their power for highway merging, yet seem to manage just fine. Is it really so hard to look for gaps in traffic while still on the service road, then time your acceleration to merge into those gaps?

    Also, if idiots on highways didn’t start accelerating when people tried to merge, instead of just coasting to let them in, I’d be hard pressed to think of any highway merge situation where you would need a vehicle which got to highway speed in less than about 20 seconds. The police should be out on the highway pulling these jackasses over, not giving speeding tickets for going 5 or 10 over the limit.

    You’re only focusing on one situation here, namely highway merging. Remember the amount of power you claim you need for this also happens to be an enabler which lets motorists do all sorts of stupid, dangerous things on surface streets. Gas it too much while backing into a parking spot and you end up going through a store front a block away. Or play the red light grand prix where you go from 0 to 70 and back to 0 between stop lights. If we enabled rapid acceleration only at highway merges I might not care but on surface streets cars should be able to accelerate no faster than a bus.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    bet the 350HP SUV outaccelerates the 90HP Porsche

  • Joe R.

    Easy to do. The rightmost lane becomes the defacto acceleration lane. You stay out of it unless you’re accelerating up to speed, or getting off at an exit. That still leaves you two, or in some cases three, travel lanes. As hard as it may be for motorists to fathom, 3 lanes doesn’t give you 50% more capacity than two. In actuality, because of lane changes and other factors, three lanes generally only give 35% more capacity than two ( http://www.easts.info/on-line/proceedings_05/739.pdf ). It’s also worth noting outside of peak times, most of NYC’s highways operate below capacity, making my idea valid. At peak times traffic speeds are much less than free-flow conditions, and therefore acceleration capabilities are practically moot (LIE at peak times typically goes 20 to 40 mph).

  • Joe R.

    0 to 40 mph is largely a function of gearing. A 30 HP/ton vehicle which can use 100% of that power for acceleration will get to 40 mph in under 7 seconds and within one city block. That’s the real kicker here. What you might call a grossly underpowered vehicle can still get you from a standstill to within 20 mph of typical NYC highway speeds fast enough to be safe, even on short entrance ramps. If you have a running start, as is usually the case, you might actually be within 10 mph or less of traffic speed by the time you’re ready to merge. That’s plenty good enough for safe merging. We’re not talking about having vehicles so underpowered it would be like putting a freight train on a highway merge.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I came across a young woman lying injured in the bike lane on Plaza Street E, between Vanderbilt and Flatbush, on the way home. There were several people attending to her and someone on the phone, so I didn’t stop and add to the commotion.

    My guess is she had been doored, but I could be wrong.

  • Kevin Love

    Did you name the car Vlad the Impala?

  • Alexander Vucelic

    tragic