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Wednesday’s Headlines: The Hole Truth Edition

DOT side-steps accountability after a tragic death. Plus more news.

12:00 AM EDT on August 30, 2023

Dave Colon|

This divot looks small, but it may have killed e-scooter rider Armando Gonzalez, 67.

No one should die on a New York City street without some accountability — but accountability is exactly what city officials are apparently trying to avoid in the death last week of Armando Gonzalez.

According to the Department of Transportation's statement, Gonzalez, 67, was riding his stand-up e-scooter westbound on Beverley Road on Aug. 13 at around 2:20 p.m. when he "struck a defect in the roadway, causing him to be thrown to the pavement and sustain trauma to the head."

He died on Aug. 21, the agency finally said on Monday, six days later. We immediately sent reporter Dave Colon to the spot where Gonzalez suffered his fatal head wound and discovered this:

It doesn't look like much, but that divot is big when you're on an e-scooter.Dave Colon

The neutral wording of the Department of Transportation's statement is somewhat infuriating: Gonzalez "struck a defect in the roadway." Is it not the agency's main task to ensure the safety of road users, specifically the most vulnerable among them? Why hasn't the "defect" been fixed yet, given that it caused the death of a man more than a week ago?

The agency's answer was less than satisfactory: According to DOT spokesperson Mona Bruno, the defect in the roadway was caused by the utility company, National Grid — which the agency determined after an inspection of the site 15 days after the crash and seven days after Gonzalez's death.

"We notified the utility company to make the repairs," Bruno said.

Oddly, DOT tweeted about potholes after we asked our questions yesterday afternoon:

In other news:

  • The 1, 2 and 3 trains were off-scheduled for eight hours thanks to a 127-year-old water main burst and flooded  Times Square-42nd Street station. Officials took two hours to turn off the water, but the MTA did a good job restoring service. (The City, Gothamist)
  • Seemingly permanent fencing protects Fort Greene Park from dirty park-going New Yorkers. (Curbed)
  • Paging 2013 — Uber is automatically dispatching taxis for e-hail trips, amNY reports.
  • London's mayor has given up on a plan to create a "zero emissions zone" in the center of the city, but is sticking by his proposed "ultra low emission zone." (Financial Times)
  • Con Ed is making the green energy transition as difficult as possible. (The City)
  • The Daily News led a story about the death of one moped rider with a victim-blaming quote from the grieving family of another dead moped rider. The more recent victim, James Ferguson, "struck a parked and unoccupied vehicle" while attempting to make a turn, according to police. It's not clear if the car was legally parked.
  • An MTA worker was attacked by a passenger he woke up to get off the train. (Daily News)
  • And finally, a question from our Streetsblog USA colleague Kea Wilson:

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