NYPD Precinct Where Driver Killed Ally Liao Announces Walking Crackdown

Council Member Peter Koo, Congress Member Grace Meng, Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, Assembly Member Mike “Don’t Call Me” Simanowitz, and Assembly Member Ron Kim
Council Member Peter Koo, Representative Grace Meng, Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, Assembly Member Mike “Don’t Call Me” Simanowitz, and Assembly Member Ron Kim want to ticket people for walking in a precinct where traffic enforcement is lax and law-breaking drivers keep killing.

An NYPD precinct in Queens where law-breaking drivers have killed several people this year has announced a crackdown on walking.

On Monday, Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti, commanding officer of the 109th Precinct, stood with Assembly Member Mike Simanowitz, Assembly Member Ron Kim, U.S. Representative Grace Meng, and City Council Member Peter Koo to tout a “plan to increase ticketing against pedestrians who jaywalk,” DNAinfo reported. The precinct’s campaign is “supported by local politicians who say pedestrians who violate the rules of the road endanger themselves and others,” wrote reporter Katie Honan.

The 109th Precinct is where a motorist hit 3-year-old Allison Liao and her grandmother as the two walked hand in hand in a Main Street crosswalk, killing Allison. The driver assumed full responsibility for the crash.

The precinct will spend a couple of weeks instructing people on how to walk, then ramp up enforcement against those who do it incorrectly.

“Elected officials are going to start getting phone calls when people start getting summonses, I know it,” said Simanowitz. “Don’t call me. I’m not going to agree with you. If you’re crossing in the middle of the street, you’re wrong, you’re endangering yourself, you’re endangering others, you’re endangering drivers.”

“Cross at the green, not in-between, and hopefully we will be able to reduce the number of traffic fatalities,” Simanowitz said. Whatever that means.

Motorists have killed five people walking in the 109th Precinct in 2015. Of those victims, three were killed by hit-and-run drivers and one was in a crosswalk crossing with the signal. According to DNAinfo, Monday’s announcement was prompted by the death of 84-year-old Agalia Gounaris. Gounaris was fatally struck on Main Street at Kissena Boulevard on November 5 by the driver of a casino bus, who police later tracked down in Connecticut. Witnesses said multiple people ran over Gounaris as the octogenarian laid in the street.

Police and elected officials blamed Gounaris for “walking mid-block.” But if Gounaris wasn’t crossing at the corner, it may have been because she felt it was unsafe.

“I almost got hit six or seven times walking across the street,” a witness told WNBC. “This area right here has to be dealt with,” said another local. “They’re always turning very sharp, and if you’re not careful you can be hit.” Koo called for speed humps in the area where Gounaris was hit.

An unidentified man and Mariano Contreras were killed in April and October, respectively, by motorists who left the scene. Another victim, Jao Lin Zhu, age 80, was fatally struck in a crosswalk on Main Street at Maple Avenue by a driver who was charged under the Right of Way Law.

Motorists injured 190 pedestrians and 62 cyclists in the precinct as of September, according to DOT data. Two motor vehicle occupants were killed and 534 injured in that time frame, a sign that many car crashes occur at high speeds. On average, the 109th Precinct issues fewer than two speeding tickets, and between two and three failure to yield summonses, a day.

DOT data show the vast majority of pedestrian injuries and deaths are not self-inflicted, but are caused by driver carelessness. If Deputy Inspector Conforti and local electeds want to protect people, they could pursue a campaign to catch and prosecute hit-and-run drivers, or crack down on motorists who endanger people in crosswalks. Targeting victims of traffic violence won’t make streets safer for anyone.

  • Matthias

    “Cross at the green, not in-between…”

    I cannot express how much I hate stupid “safety” rhymes.

  • bolwerk

    This is worse than stupid. At least on one-way streets, crossing mid-block is the safest way to cross the street because you likely only need to worry about one direction of motor vehicle traffic. It’s probably safer one two-way streets too because, let’s face it, drivers usually aren’t that great at registering what is to their left and right when turning.

    We’re literally being told to risk killing ourselves for our own “safety.”

  • AlexWithAK

    This is a “blame anyone but who’s actually responsible” mentality. It’s an outright embarrassment that this is going on in this city and if our hapless mayor had any real commitment to Vision Zero, he would condemn this deeply wrongheaded approach to “improving” safety. Instead, he’s wagging his finger saying that “everyone has to do their part” as if he’s telling his kids to stop fighting over a toy.

  • st4rchy

    This is an outrage.

  • Voter

    A catchy slogan to remember for 2017:

    Your choices behind the ballot box matter.

  • Joe R.

    And so the local head party members fell in line with their commandant’s latest directive to crack down on social deviants. One of them even came up with a catchy rhyme to instruct their comrades on proper behavior.

  • bolwerk

    Take a look at Simanowitz’s twitter profile. This guy has a major hard-on for using meatheads in uniforms to solve problems.

  • AlexWithAK

    Who are they playing to with this press conference? I suppose some drivers really think “it’s all the pedestrians’ fault” but I can’t imagine that’s what gets you peoples’ votes. It seems more like they are so disconnected from reality that they actually think it’s pedestrians that cause these crashes to the extend that they’re willing to get up in front of everyone and pronounce how dumb they are.

  • armyvet00

    The problem in this area is certainly drivers that do not yield. I cannot count the number of times I was nearly hit. Even if they do go after pedestrians that do not follow the rules, why would they not ALSO ramp up enforcement people breaking the rules in against multi-ton weapons?

  • armyvet00

    Drivers must yield, a killing cannot be healed. There I fixed it!

  • WalkingNPR

    Unless the countdown clock started…then, according to our fair city, it’s cross with the blinking hand, your killer won’t take the stand

  • JudenChino

    Why the fuck do we bend over backwards to protect those enveloped thousands of pounds of steel while shaming the fuck out of old ladies crossing the street?

  • Have these cops ever tried to cross Northern Boulevard? Starting around Parsons Boulevard and heading east there are two giant blocks between each crosswalk. Every other block has a cross street but no crosswalk.

  • Simon Phearson

    I suspect it might have something to do with the car:pol ratio in that line-up.

  • ohhleary

    And based on this tweet, the message clearly didn’t get through to him:

    https://twitter.com/MikeSimanowitz/status/657604702620774400

  • AlexWithAK

    Or… “your killer won’t get even a reprimand.”

  • AlexWithAK

    Of course not. They almost certainly drive everywhere.

  • Simon Phearson

    And park nearest to their destination, on the raised concrete platforms along the sides of the street provided for that purpose.

  • Driver

    If there’s a cross street, it’s a crosswalk. Even if it’s not marked.

  • c2check

    Ticketing us poor saps on foot is much easier than having to pull over a driver.

  • bolwerk

    Wow, WTF is “bittersweet” here? That’s a bit like: well, I’m pretty sad a little kid’s life was snuffed out. But I’m also grateful my career got this boost because we got to name this street after a dead kid.

  • Option A, of course, remains staying by a stop light at a quiet-ish intersection with plenty of bike traffic. No-one feels sorry for those guys.

  • When “Vision Zero” first started, Bratton gave a press conference where he claimed pedestrians caused most crashes between pedestrians and cars. This is what they believe.

  • I’ve said frequently before that a senior officer at every NYPD precinct should have his pay and/or promotion prospects tied to his area’s record on traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The enforcement pattern would change pretty quickly.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    recall the bad old days when rape victims would get blamed ?

    this NYPD leadership is doing same to pedestrians killed by speeding drivers

  • R

    Politicians love renaming streets. It doesn’t take away parking. But actually changing streets to prevent deaths? They’re too scared to do that.

  • Andrew

    On average, the 109th Precinct issues fewer than two speeding tickets, and between two and three failure to yield summonses, a day.

    Eight speeding tickets in all of September and they’re ready to go after pedestrians?

    Idiots.

  • KeNYC2030

    In signing onto this, these elected officials are very cynical but very smart. Blaming pedestrians deflects blame from their constituents who drive while signaling to walkers (which means everyone) that they will remain safe because those struck by cars somehow had it coming. But it won’t do a damned thing about reducing the carnage in our crosswalks.

  • c2check

    A pedestrian/cyclist should really be allowed to give an offending driver’s car a nice dent for each time they’re nearly hit.

    It’s silly that a person could be hit by a car with no consequences, but denting a piece of metal would surely get you in some trouble.

    More dents=warning to others around you.

  • Walter Crunch

    Whatever it takes to defend the auto cabal…and I mean whatever.

    It’s crazy to think that the auto cabal no longer has to even lift a finger…we do their work for them.

    Someday…I hope it changes.

  • John

    Bratton’s vision zero is : zero pedestrians, zero cyclists, zero children walking to schools, zero sidewalks and zero crosswalks.

  • scastro87

    Good luck getting that through the unions.

  • Andrew

    Scared? Self-absorbed, I suspect.

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