Gowanus Crash Spotlights Safety Problems of Rogue Private Garbage Carters
Advocates renew calls for regulation after a truck driver plowed into a cyclist, leaving him in critical condition.
Advocates are renewing calls to regulate the city’s private carting industry after a private sanitation-truck driver crashed into an electric-bike rider in Gowanus on Sunday night, leaving the rider in critical condition, police said.
The crash was only the latest instance of vehicle violence involving a private sanitation carter operating in the outer boroughs. A few months ago, another private carting truck driver fatally backed into a motorcycle rider in Queens.
Both crashes are part of a pattern of unsafe practices in the industry whose drivers have killed at least 21 people since 2016, according to Brooklyn Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who is sponsoring a spate of legislation to regulate the trucks by shortening routes, giving workers protections, and requiring safety features.
“This is not the first or last time that the industry’s wild-west practices have harmed a road user, but we can make sure that it’s a thing of the past,” Reynoso said. “As New Yorkers know all too well, it is not uncommon to see a private sanitation truck tear down a city street or flout the rules of the road, often done in an attempt to finish an excessively long route. It is time to regulate the private sanitation industry through a commercial-waste-zones system for the safety of streets, dignity of workers, and health of our environment.”
Police said that the Sunday night crash happened when a 32-year-old driving a 96 Mack dump truck owned by the Brooklyn-based private carting firm Lomangino Brothers plowed into the 62-year-old victim, who was riding his electric bicycle on Third Avenue near 12th Street at about 9:30 pm. The garbage truck driver was heading south on Third Avenue when, police say, he tried to make a left onto 12th Street and struck the e-bike rider, who was heading north on Third Avenue crossing the same block.
The driver stayed on the scene. Paramedics rushed the victim to Methodist Hospital in critical condition. Cops made no arrests and did not issue any tickets.
Police could not provide any information about whether the driver was speeding or had gone through a red light — but a recent analysis showed that private carting trucks often speed and disobey traffic signals.
Honchos at Lomangino Brothers — which operates out of its headquarters on 61st Street in Borough Park, on the same block as its sister company JoRo Carting — have not safeguarded any of the company’s four trucks with life-saving side rails, which can protect pedestrians or cyclists from getting crushed beneath the truck’s rear wheels. JoRo has put guards on only two of its eight trucks, according to Justin Wood of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, which looked at information from the city’s Business Integrity Commission, the agency that oversees private carting firms.
“Lomangino Brothers is a prime example of a private waste company unwilling to take the most basic steps to operate safely and responsibly on our streets, such as installing safety side guards on trucks,” said Wood. “The City Council urgently needs to pass a robust commercial-waste-zone policy that will require companies to upgrade trucks, operate safely, treat workers fairly, and keep our streets and our environment safe.”
Mayor de Blasio announced back in 2015 that all large city trucks, including the private carting fleet, must be outfitted with side guards by 2024. So far, companies have installed side guards on only about 900 of their 6,000 private carting trucks, according to the Daily News.