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Carnage

SEE IT: Red-Light-Running Driver Causes Horrific Crash on Canal Street

The injured cyclist a split second after he was hit by a red-light-running driver. Photo: ZeroEnigma

"No! Nooo! Aaahhhh!"

Those are the horrifying utterances made by a Manhattan cyclist a split second before a driver, running a red light on Canal Street last Thursday, slammed into him, sending him flying from his bike and onto the pavement, causing severe injuries.

But unlike the roughly 95 injury-causing crashes that drivers initiate on the average day in New York City, this one was entirely caught on video — a video that clearly shows the driver's culpability that apparently ended up going unpunished by cops.

First, to set the scene, the time is about 8 a.m. and the footage opens with traffic moving eastbound on Canal. The cyclist, a 37-year-old IT technician who requested anonymity but goes by the Twitter handle Zer0Enigma and posts YouTube videos of his rides, captured the footage on his helmet cam (warning: footage is graphic):

If you find the video too scary to watch, here's what it depicts:

At timecode 17:17, we see the cyclist waiting at a red light on Mulberry Street, watching traffic on Canal. Fourteen seconds later (there are some freeze frames that make the video unsynchronized from real time), the light on Canal Street turns red and one car goes through it anyway.

At 17:40, the light on Mulberry turns green and the cyclist starts pedaling. A few seconds after the light has changed, the driver of an Acura runs his red on Canal and slams into the cyclist. All you hear is "No! Noooo!" followed by the terrible sound of a crash and screams of agony from the cyclist now writhing on the pavement.

The aftermath of the crash, plus a medical image of ZeroEnigma's injuries.
The aftermath of the crash, plus a medical image of Zer0Enigma's injuries.
The aftermath of the crash, plus a medical image of ZeroEnigma's injuries.

For exactly one minute and 33 seconds, no one so much as approaches the obviously injured cyclist lying in the street. Finally, at timecode 19:28, the driver of the Acura, who is still on the phone with 911, gets out of the car and says to a witness, "I hit him."

The cyclist, hearing that, screams, "You ran the light!"

"I'm sorry. I didn't see," the driver responded.

"Of course you didn't see," the cyclist says. "You weren't looking!"

"The sun was in my eyes," the calm driver says as he continues to take questions from the 911 operator with absolutely no sense of urgency.

EMTs treat the cyclist.
EMTs treat the cyclist in this first-person POV shot. Photo: Zer0Enigma
EMTs treat the cyclist.

Exactly two minutes and 48 seconds later, EMTs arrived and begin treating the cyclist. The video ends about a minute later. Police have not yet arrived.

That's a key detail because it appears that the police botched the case by failing to issue a ticket to the driver, identified in a police report as Joshua Lee Rosenbaum, 52. Rosenbaum told cops that the sun was in his eyes, but the police report cites a witness supporting the cyclist's statement that Rosenbaum's light was red.

"I went to the precinct to pick up my bike (wrecked by the way) and I showed the footage to the officer there and he basically told me to show that to his insurance company," the cyclist told Streetsblog when asked if the NYPD was following up with an investigation.

A clip from the police report.
A clip from the police report.

The cyclist mentioned to cops the driver's horrendous record — he has received 11 camera-issued speeding tickets and a red-light ticket, according to city stats — and said the contention that the sun was in his eyes is laughable.

"He's a liar, because [the video shows] he was too busy looking at something to his left," the cyclist said. "I don't think the cops handled properly." (The NYPD did not respond to specific questions about the incident.)

In the aftermath, the cyclist is left to seek compensation on his own. He's retained a lawyer and is working through the issue with the driver's insurance company — and is struggling to get back to normal, if he ever can.

"I'm in a lot of pain, hurts to walk, sit and lay down," he said, but hastened to add that the crash hasn't changed his view of New York.

"There will always be people who don't care for safety," he said. "I have a YouTube channel pointing out people who don't care about safety."

In this case, despite the horror of the crash, the cyclist was lucky. Through Oct. 22 this year, there have been 83,508 reported crashes in the city — roughly 283 every day — injuring 4,174 cyclists, 6,757 pedestrians and 28,660 motorists, or roughly 134 injuries every single day, according to city stats.

Activists have long pushed the Department of Transportation to open up its traffic-calming toolbox on Canal Street, but the agency has only held a virtual workshop back in March, and its "current projects" page has not been updated. (After initial publication of this story, DOT said its timeline remains exactly as it was in March. The public comment period closed, as stated, on Aug. 31, and the agency is reviewing the feedback, plus conducting a traffic analysis of the area, before it returns to the neighborhood with a design proposal.)

Meanwhile, the Canal carnage continues. Since January along the 11 blocks of Canal between Varick Street and the Manhattan Bridge, there have been 112 reported crashes, injuring 10 cyclists, five pedestrians and 23 motorists. In the five years between January 2017 and December 2021, there have been 2,195 reported crashes — roughly 1.2 per day — injuring 64 cyclists, 106 pedestrians and 246 motorists and killing one cyclist, one pedestrian and one motorist.

Thanks to a new mapping tool created by Transportation Alternatives and MIT, it's easy to show the damage that cars have done to Canal Street in multiple statistical measures. The stretch in question is almost entirely in City Council District 1, represented by Council Member Christopher Marte.

Bus speeds in the district rank 50th out of 51 Council districts. Air pollution is the sixth worse in the city. Traffic volumes are 43 percent above the city average. Yet 80 percent of residents of the district do not have a car, meaning the horrors of living in Chinatown and Tribeca are almost entirely being inflicted by non-neighborhood residents.

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