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Council Elections 2021

Incoming Council Member Seriously Injured by Moped Driver

Incoming Council Member Pierina Sanchez after being struck by a moped rider. Photo: Via Twitter

An incoming member of the City Council from the Bronx was badly injured by the rider of a moped on Tuesday, sending her to the hospital for a day with a concussion.

Bronx Democrat Pierina Sanchez, a street safety advocate who won a June 22 primary that is tantamount to election in the overwhelmingly Democratic 14th District, said on Twitter that she was "hit by a moped on Jerome Avenue" sometime on Tuesday, and spent the next day at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Belmont section.

Streetsblog tried to visit Sanchez in the hospital on Wednesday minutes after she posted her tweet, but she had already been discharged. She did not immediately respond to an email message.

Sanchez, who was endorsed by StreetsPAC, had only just appeared in a Streetsblog article about her top priorities for transportation in her district, which covers the neighborhoods of Morris Heights, University Heights, Fordham and Kingsbridge.

Her comments for that story now appear prescient: "We need streets for people!" she said. "By designing our streets for our neighbors — prioritizing pedestrians, cyclists and accessible transit, especially prioritized, faster and more reliable bus service via dedicated bus lanes, busways, transit signal priority, external fare collection, and other interventions that improve the quality of the experience — our streets can be safer and more pleasant. ... We need more expanded sidewalks, improved lighting, optimized signals and more traffic calming devices like bump outs and well-placed islands."

In endorsing Sanchez, StreetsPAC had cited her prior work as New York director of the Regional Plan Association, where she played a "key role in drafting the 2017 Transportation and Equity Agenda."

The circumstances of the crash or not known, but it came as many cyclists and pedestrians are raising concerns about mopeds, which are required to have license plates and be driven by people with state-issued driver's licenses. Even if properly plated, such vehicles can not legally be ridden in bike lanes or on bike paths on bridges. Earlier this year, actor Lisa Banes was killed by a hit-and-run driver of a Fly 9 moped — which is really more of a motorcycle, given its top speed of 45 miles per hour. (Cops had initially said that Banes was struck by a "scooter," but later told Streetsblog that it was a Fly 9.)

The issue of illegal mopeds has been blowing up on social media:

But street safety advocates point out that the problem is not the mode, but the road, especially given that moped and e-bike riders cause very few injuries to pedestrians:

A community board on the Upper West Side recently proposed banning e-bikes in bike lanes, but it is not clear if the panel meant mopeds, which are already illegal in those lanes, or electric bikes, such as Citi Bike pedal assist bikes, which are currently legal everywhere that a regular bike is legal (except on the Hudson River Greenway and on some Parks Department properties). Mayor de Blasio said he did not want to ban e-bikes because e-bikes "certainly shouldn’t be out in the flow of traffic" because the danger from cars is far greater.

— with Fiifi Frimpong

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