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While Drivers Kill People in Crosswalks, 19th Precinct Cracks Down on Bikes

Deputy Inspector James M. Grant, commanding officer of the 19th Precinct, and DOT precinct traffic crash data as of July. With five pedestrians killed and dozens injured by drivers this year, the precinct is cracking down on bikes.
Deputy Inspector James M. Grant, commanding officer of the 19th Precinct, and DOT precinct traffic crash data as of July. With five pedestrians killed and dozens injured by drivers this year, the precinct is cracking down on bikes.
Deputy Inspector James M. Grant, commanding officer of the 19th Precinct, and DOT precinct traffic crash data as of July. With five pedestrians killed and dozens injured by drivers this year, the precinct is cracking down on bikes.

The first New York City pedestrian fatality of 2015 occurred in the 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side, when Uber driver Aliou Diallo ran over Wesley Mensing and Erin Sauchelli at E. 62nd Street and Lexington Avenue.

Mensing died at the scene. NYPD said the victims were “outside the crosswalk,” though photos appeared to indicate they were at most a few feet from the corner. Police did not say how fast Diallo was traveling or how he failed to see two people in front of him.

Since that crash, drivers have killed four more people walking in the 19th Precinct. All of those victims were seniors. At least three of them were hit in or near a crosswalk by a motorist making a turn.

Motorists killed at least five pedestrians in the precinct in 2014, and drivers were charged with violating the Right of Way Law in at least two of those crashes, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

Drivers injured 136 pedestrians in the 19th Precinct through July, according to DOT’s Vision Zero View data map, and there were 52 cyclist injuries in that time frame. As of July 166 motor vehicle occupants were injured in crashes, an indicator of high speeds.

But when the 19th Precinct set out to reduce collisions, they didn’t concentrate on drivers who speed or fail to yield. DNAinfo reports:

The 19th Precinct has increased its enforcement of bicyclists by 52 percent since this time last year and it's paid off with an 18 percent decrease in bicycle-related accidents, police said.

On June 10, the precinct sent out patrols for a bike enforcement operation on First Avenue at 78th and 79th streets and at 90th and 91st streets, and handed out 94 summonses to cyclists for running red lights and riding in the wrong direction in the first three hours, according to the NYPD.

As of July, 19th Precinct officers had summonsed 819 motorists for failing to yield, and cited 76 for speeding, in 2015. That means they issued more tickets to cyclists in three hours than they wrote to speeding drivers in seven months. The 94 cyclist summonses issued on June 10 equals about 40 percent of the total number of failure to yield citations issued by the precinct in the entire month.

Vision Zero View tracks the density of traffic injuries by precinct, on a five-level scale, indicated on the map in shades of red. As of July the 19th Precinct ranked one notch below the highest (worst) level. If the precinct wants to improve those numbers it will have to prioritize enforcement against driver behaviors that cause the vast majority of injuries and deaths.

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