Drivers Have Killed Seven People in Bike-Obsessed 19th Precinct in 2016

19th Precinct CO Deputy Inspector Clint McPherson and City Council Member Ben Kallos

Blanca Pagan, the senior who was struck last Friday by a driver who failed to yield, was at least the seventh pedestrian killed by a motorist this year in the 19th Precinct, on the Upper East Side. Deputy Inspector Clint McPherson, the precinct’s commanding officer, has prioritized ticketing people on bikes, with encouragement from local City Council members Ben Kallos and Dan Garodnick.

Pagan, 73, was in the crosswalk at York Avenue and E. 89th Street at around 3 p.m. when Pjerin Gjerji hit her with a Chevrolet van while turning right from York onto 89th, NYPD told Gothamist. Police charged Gjerji, 48, with failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.

Pagan, who lived nearby, was a retired nurse who came to NYC from Puerto Rico when she was a child, the Daily News reported. She died less than three weeks after a motorist struck and killed Lee Strong while backing into a crosswalk at Third Avenue and E. 71st Street, also in the 19th Precinct.

City crash data show the 19th Precinct has a high rate of traffic injuries compared to other precincts. Motorists have killed at least 13 people walking in the 19th Precinct in the last 24 months, according to data compiled by Streetsblog.

The crash that killed Blanca Pagan occurred in Kallos’s City Council district. To hear McPherson and Kallos tell it, cyclists are the 19th Precinct’s most pressing traffic hazard.

McPherson was named the precinct CO this year after his predecessor, Deputy Inspector James M. Grant, was identified as a target of an NYPD corruption investigation. “From what I understand, bikes are a big problem,” McPherson said at a precinct community council meeting, not long after taking over for Grant — who himself concentrated on bike crackdowns as motorists killed people in crosswalks.

“One of the top complaints I get in the district is about bikes,” Kallos told Our Town after a bike ticket blitz earlier this year, which according to Our Town was conducted in collaboration with Kallos and Garodnick.

A data analysis by Transportation Alternatives last spring showed the 19th Precinct issued many more criminal court summonses for sidewalk riding than other Manhattan commands. TA found that the typical ratio for precincts citywide is close to one criminal summons to one moving violation for sidewalk riding, while the 19th Precinct had a ratio of around eight criminal summonses to one moving violation.

A moving violation can be resolved online or through the mail, while a criminal summons for sidewalk riding requires a court appearance. Failure to appear in court can result in a warrant that leads to jail time and barriers to employment.

Under McPherson, the 19th Precinct is lightening up on drivers who put lives at risk. The precinct ticketed an average of around three drivers a day for failing to yield to pedestrians in 2015, according to NYPD summons data. As of August that figure had dropped to approximately one failure to yield summons a day this year.

  • AlexWithAK

    There is a lot of BS when it comes to enforcement on cyclists vs enforcement on drivers, but the discrepancy between punishment for cycling on the sidewalk and driving on the sidewalk is especially egregious. And that the 19th Precinct is specifically taking advantage of this out of some personal vendetta is appalling. Meanwhile, hapless Bill de Blasio is telling everyone it’s perfectly OK to park in bike lanes. Vision Zero is a joke in this town.

  • LimestoneKid

    I hope there’s a credible alternative to de Blasio when he’s up for reelection as he’s been a major disappointment.

  • snrvlakk

    There’s ONE reason there’s a safe & separate bike lane on Queens Blvd–his name is Bill DeBlasio.

  • LimestoneKid

    Sorry, but that’s not enough of a reason for him to be reelected.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The one alternative I’ve heard about would be worse.

  • Bill

    Why put bicycles in the headline when it had nothing at all to do with the death of an elderly pedestrian, who was hit by a van?

  • qrt145

    Did you read the article?

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    when it had nothing at all to do with the death of an elderly pedestrian

    You should tell that to the two people whose pictures are at the top of the page.

  • walknseason

    I wrote Kallos, and everyone else should as well.

  • Reader

    He stood up for Queens Blvd, no doubt but it’s hard to argue that it wouldn’t have happened under a different mayor. I’d argue the real test isn’t if he stands up for fixing something nicknamed “The Boulevard of Death,” but how much he pushes his team to fix other dangerous corridors that don’t get as much media attention.

    In other words, let’s not give the guy credit for doing something he should be doing as a matter of course, which is stopping New Yorkers from getting killed.

  • KeNYC2030

    Kallos and Garodnick are pandering, pure and simple. The irony is that in doing so, they are putting their own constituents’ lives at risk. They both know better and they should be ashamed of themselves.

  • snrvlakk

    What you write SOUNDS extremely reasonable. In fact, it IS extremely reasonable. Sadly, my local community board is not so reasonable–it voted quite heavily against these improvements, and my Borough President ATTACKED the Mayor for having the effrontery to, as you quite rightly say, “doing what he should be doing as a matter of course.” Doing the right thing in this case took political courage on DeBlasio’s part, and we, as New Yorkers & voters to whom street safety & bike safety issues are important, need to recognize & respect that, and at the very least take it into consideration as we decide whom we’re gonna vote for in 2017.


Do the 19th Precinct and Ben Kallos Know Drivers Cause Most Street Carnage?

Police activity on 79th & 1st–a blitz of enforcement on cyclists — Our Town (@OurTownNYC) June 1, 2016 Per square mile, the 19th Precinct on the Upper East Side has one of the higher traffic injury rates in the city. Though motorists cause the vast majority of traffic injuries and deaths, the 19th Precinct continues […]

Drivers Are Killing People, and the 19th Precinct Is Sending Cyclists to Court

Police activity on 79th & 1st–a blitz of enforcement on cyclists — Our Town (@OurTownNYC) June 1, 2016 The 19th Precinct likes to boast about local officers aggressively ticketing people for riding bikes on sidewalks. A data analysis by Transportation Alternatives shows the precinct also issues far more criminal court summonses for sidewalk riding than […]