Monday’s Headlines: Respect for the Dead — and Living Edition

The Times...
The Times...

Shame on the New York Times for demeaning the death even as it honored the dead.

On Friday, the car-loving Paper of Record rightly mourned the passing of Kathie Coblentz, a true iconoclast, who was killed earlier this month when a driver pulled his car out of a garage, onto a sidewalk, and struck the pedestrian, sending her to the pavement, where she suffered fatal brain injuries.

But you wouldn’t know that from Sam Roberts’s obit.

First, Roberts observed that the 73-year-old lifetime fixture at the New York Public Library “died on April 3 at a hospital in Manhattan.” Next, he said, “She was apparently grazed by a car pulling out of an underground garage as she was walking home to her apartment on West 58th Street, fell and hit her head and never regained consciousness.”

Grazed? Hit her head?

The woman was run over by a car driver with enough force to send her flying to the pavement, where her head received traumatic injuries. We realize that an obituary is meant to focus attention on the significant contributions of the dead — but would it kill the Times to also point out the horrific contributions of the 31-year-old driver in this case, or of the police who let him go without charges or of the departments of Transportation and Buildings that allow conditions like this to exist on a crowded New York City street:

Photo: Google
Note how many pedestrians are typically walking in this area. Photo: Google

It’s just lazy reporting that does no service to the dead. Former Metro Editor Cliff Levy always let us chew his ear off about such things — and the Gray Lady was an increasingly fun dance partner. Will new Metro Editor Jim Dao indulge us, too? Let’s see. He knows where to reach us.

In other news:

  • In a related story, we don’t care much for what happens in Tinseltown, but last night’s Oscars provided yet another reminder of the grim toll that cars take on our society. In accepting his Best Foreign Film award, “Another Round” director Thomas Vinterberg dedicated the movie to his daughter, who was killed in a car crash just four days into shooting. The LA Times story called the crash an “accident,” and moved on quickly, but other outlets reported that Ida Vinterberg was killed because another driver was looking at his cellphone instead of the road. But no one wants to talk about that.
  • Staying on the topic of unpunished death on our streets, there was so much blood shed this weekend that it makes you wonder if Vision Zero is even a thing anymore. The Post, amNY, the Daily News (two stories) and Streetsblog (two stories!) covered the road violence, but only Streetsblog pointed out the following: Carnage and crashes on our street are getting back to “normal” now that drivers have rediscovered the roadways after the pandemic. From mid-March to mid-April of this year, total crashes are up 71 percent compared to the same 28-day period last year, with 7,138 total crashes, according to the NYPD. That’s roughly 255 crashes every day! Collisions with injuries are up 170 percent, total injuries are up 183 percent, pedestrian injuries are up 214 percent and cyclist injuries are up 195 percent. Not that you’d read that in the Daily News.
  • It must be hard working at the Staten Island Advance these days. Erik Bascombe wrote a great story the other day about the latest city safety report that proves that speed cameras save lives and reduce crashes — and then he’s forced to top it with about 300 words of blather about how the speed camera program is just a money grab by the city (apparently editors on the Rock think no one will read past a headline). Worse, the organ’s biggest apologist for speeding, Tom Wrobelski, then vomitted an unhinged screed that claimed that the city speed-camera program is a failure because Brad Lander got seven speeding tickets in a year-and-a-half, which is not only moronic, but also a big “F- you” to Bascombe’s excellent reporting.
  • post page with lander cropSpeaking of Lander, Doug Gordon had the definitive last word on his blog as the weekend began (Brooklyn Spoke). And Comptroller rival Zach Iscol added in a bizarre tweet (Iscol via Twitter). Also, in case you missed it, the New York Post had to credit Streetsblog for our “get” — getting Lander to agree to reforms of his personal driving (see photo, right).
  • The MTA is slllooooowwwwly moving towards electrifying its bus fleet. (NYDN) And when we say slowly, we mean like the buses on Fordham Road.
  • On the plus side, the Department of Transportation’s W. 181st Street busway finally opens for business on Monday,  roughly 13 months after Mayor de Blasio announced it. If you’re up there today, look for reporter Dave Colon (and please join him at Elsa La Reina Del Chicharron, for the best monfongo in town). The Post and amNY did an advance.
  • Remember those racist cops who went after those teen cyclists in Perth Amboy? Well, NJ.com says that the whole system is racist … but you knew that.
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez must be a Streetsblog reader. Just days after our latest coverage of Gov. Cuomo’s boneheaded LaGuardia AirTrain plan, AOC slammed it at a town hall. (NY Post)
  • It’s great that a bunch of schoolkids succeeded in banning pesticides from the city (NY Times), but it’s particularly galling that a bunch of adults can’t succeed in banning deadly roads around schools for city kids.
  • Groceries in seconds rather than minutes? Don’t you think we’re putting too much pressure on delivery workers, people? (WSJ)
  • Whoever said retired federal transit man Larry Penner doesn’t have anything nice to say? Here’s his 187th birthday wishes for the LIRR. (Mass Transit)
  • Department of Low-Hanging Fruit: The City Council may pass a law to keep large police vehicles off the landmark Coney Island Boardwalk. (Brooklyn Paper)
  • We’re no fans of monster trucks, but we are fans of DMX — and his funeral sendoff was probably the only time we’ll doff our cap to a passing pickup truck. Click to see the pictures and you’ll understand why. (NY Post, Gothamist)
  • And, finally, Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson Jr. went to the Earth Day open street celebration on W. 103rd Street on Saturday and filed this report about how great open streets can be when they are properly activated and supported:

Joy on 103rd Street: Time to Make NYC Open Streets Permanent, Funded & Everywhere! from STREETFILMS on Vimeo.

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Cy Vance Files Felony Charges for Beekman Street Sidewalk Hit-and-Run

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Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has filed felony charges against a woman accused of driving onto a downtown sidewalk, striking a pedestrian, and leaving the scene. Heather Hensl was walking on Beekman Street near William Street on April 13 when a motorist struck her, knocking her to the ground, lacerating her head and fracturing her leg. The driver […]