Wednesday, July 3, 2019

EVG Etc.: City finally vowing to (temporarily) do something about reckless drivers

[Ghost bike for East Village resident Chaim Joseph]

Now that 15 cyclists have been killed by cars or trucks on NYC streets already this year (up from 10 all of 2018), the NYPD yesterday announced that it is launching a citywide bicycle safety plan.

Per The Wall Street Journal:

Officers will step up enforcement of vehicles that speed, run red lights or fail to yield to pedestrians, NYPD officials said. They will also increase the ticketing of drivers who are texting or talking on their phone without a headset, the officials said.

NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill also said at an unrelated press conference Tuesday that officers will also make sure bike lanes are clear of vehicles, especially police cars. Officers caught using bike lanes illegally may face a variety of internal administrative consequences, such as a reprimand from a supervisor or a disciplinary letter, he said.


“We absolutely have an emergency on our hands,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday night during a television interview.

The enforcement will run through July 21.


• NYPD announces plan to temporarily improve bike safety after slew of cyclist deaths (Daily News)

• NYPD Promises To Crack Down On Reckless Drivers For A Few Weeks (Gothamist)

• NYPD’s Reckless Driver ‘Crackdown’ is a Breezy Three-Week Affair (Streetsblog)

• DOT’s Forthcoming ‘Cycling Safety Plan’ Won’t Likely Break the Car Culture (Streetsblog)

The NYPD's MO has been to ticket cyclists instead of drivers in areas where a fatality occurred.

Meanwhile, coming up next week, Transportation Alternatives is staging a “die-in” in Washington Square Park ...

Chaim Joseph, a 72-year-old East Village resident, was one of the 15 cycling victims this year. He was struck by a private oil truck shortly before 6 a.m. on Feb. 4 while he was riding in the bike lane near the intersection of Eighth Avenue and West 45th Street.

The NYPD arrested 56-year-old Queens resident Kenneth Jackson, who worked for Brooklyn-based Approved Oil company. Jackson was charged with failure to yield and failure to exercise due care. He faces a maximum of 30 days in jail — although such sentences are rare, as Streetsblog noted.


cmarrtyy said...

No offense... but the problem should not be limited to just drivers. Drivers are the easy targets. You can't walk the streets of the EV and not see bikers violating the law at every corner... on every sidewalk... on their phones... going 2 ways on a 1 way bike path. The last person killed by a truck, I believe in Chelsea, was caught going through a red light.

Anonymous said...

How about a reckless biker crackdown? Walk along the 1st Ave. sidewalk and compare the number of bikers riding through red lights vs. the number of drivers who do that. I had one close call with a driver, who veered through a red light on 2nd Ave. and turned left at 4th St. vs. dozens of close calls with bikers, who routinely flout the law. Not even a close comparison.

Anonymous said...

Learn the facts before you leave off-the-cuff comments. Robyn did not run a red light.

From The Villager:

Police said Hightman and the truck were both traveling uptown on Sixth Ave. when they collided. Witnesses said Hightman was riding outside the bike lane when the incident occurred.

It is fairly common for riders to go outside of the bike lane briefly at that intersection, to avoid large crowds and congestion, according to fellow bike messenger Mike Pach, who was at a memorial for Hightman near the intersection on Monday afternoon.

The driver kept going, but finally returned to the scene. He claimed he didn’t realize he ran over a cyclist.

stephen b said...

When I walk around the East Village and downtown every day, I don't worry about my personal safety with the cars, trucks and buses driven by those with official licenses,
I worry about the cycles and electric vehicles on the sidewalks, in the streets, in the park, etc, it's a shooting gallery of bikes and skateboards in all directions at all times flaunting the carefully painted lanes with abandon, as if with zero vision.

Unknown said...

Everyone needs to follow the laws but let's keep this in perspective.
There has been 1 pedestrian killed by a cyclist in the last 2 years.
Cars have killed over 80 people so far this year.

bill said...


In 2017 531 pedestrians were hit by bikers; 122 were seriously injured. None were killed courtesy of Izzy Newton's third law, Force = mass x acceleration. That figure is much higher for a car, which led to 80 deaths from cars vs. 1 for a bike in another year.
The number that really matters though is the number of cars vs. the number of bikes. Approximately 1.4 million New Yorkers own cars. There are about 10,000 Citibikes and a small number of other bikes. Don't forget the number of drivers around NY who are from Long Island and New Joisy, etc. I doubt many bikers come in from these places.

Another gripe is where the bike lanes are. Ever walk west from the southeast corner of 7th Street to the Southwest corner? If a truck is parked there on 1st Ave. you have to stop and see if there is a bike zooming along before going to the curb.

On a per driver vs. per biker basis, cars are safer. Drivers tend to drive more safely than bikers ride.

Unknown said...

@Bill, You are talking about nationwide statistics, why not include car stats- In 2016 nationally, there were 129,000 pedestrians struck and injured by cars, 5,987 pedestrians were struck and killed by by cars. In New York city alone the numbers are 10,437 pedestrians injured by cars and 146 killed by cars. I feel for those who think they are at risk of injury due to bikes, but cars are the real danger and can execute with little legal consequences.

Giovanni said...

If bikes were as dangerous as the anti-bike people claim, then terrorists would be using them to mow down people. The last time I checked, the terrorists were sticking with gas powered vehicles.

Isaac Newton (aka Izzy) had some heavy ideas, and several of them has to do with force and mass. Cars have much more mass than bicycles, thus can exert more force. They can also travel faster, which exponentially increases their potential force at impact. So it is not surprising that with so many more bikes on the street that more accidents are happening in which the driver of the car or truck is almost always unhurt, but the cyclist is badly or sometimes fatally injured.

The issue is not just that cars are more dangerous but that the multiplication of cyclists on the streets creates more chances that bad things will happen, mostly to the cyclist. Electric bikes seem to make many cyclists go faster in an effort to keep pace, increasing the danger for all. And while the bike lanes general make it safer to bike, depending on your route, you can’t stay in the bike lane at all times.

Plus, not all streets and avenues have bike lanes. Often the bike lanes are blocked by double parking cars and trucks. Joggers, skateboarders, can and bottle collectors and scooter riders often use them while going in the wrong direction. During rush hour it is pure chaos out there. Riding a bike in the city at rush hour is like playing Fortnite on wheels; just blink and it’s over. The only way to stay safe is to slow down while electric bikes zip by you at 20+ miles per hour.

The bottom line is this is a mathematical problem which is only getting worse and with no easy solution. The police must make the cars slow down and obey the laws. They must prosecute the reckless drivers. Until they invent self-driving bicycles with collision prevention, and start really prosecuting the bad drivers ,we are going to see may more accidents, and many more drivers walking away scott free.

Carol from E. 5th Street said...

There are two sides to every story. I was hit by a bicyclist riding the wrong way in the bike lane. I suffered a concussion and the effects of it lasted 3 months. Now although I look both ways when I cross a bike lane I've still had many near misses with cyclists not stopping for red lights, listening to music or talking or texting while riding, riding on the sidewalks, etc. I think every cyclist should have a license (you need a license for a dog in NYC) and should have to fill out a questionnaire regarding bike safety and sign it. In addition each bicycle should have a license plate.

I am not lessening the tragedy of cyclists killed by autos but cyclists must take responsibility for their actions also.

bill said...

The fact that some drivers who kill people are not held legally accountable is the fault of the legal system, not cars. Bikers, pedestrians and drivers often look at their cell phones, when they should not. Common sense is in short supply.

Giovanni said...

I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the East Village Mad Cyclist who regularly speeds around Tompkins Square and East River Park in his bloated Spandex Ballet outfit while blasting rap and dance music at full volume. He rides up from behind and towards other cyclists and plays chicken with them and pedestrians at high speed. Last week there was a cop stationed in East River Park who said he was looking for reckless cyclists. If you want to make the streets safer then start with the Mad Cyclist.

bill said...

Good point by Carol from E. 5th Street. A neighbor of mine (we are on E. 6th St.) has been saying this for a long time. Licenses on bikes would be a "good thing" as Martha Stewart would say. I'm guessing Izzy would agree....
I was also knocked down by an errant biker in 2015, and was lucky not to suffer more than some pain to a knee.
E-bikes are essentially motor bikes and should be licensed just like cars. I notice e-bikers routinely going through red lights and stop signs.

Unknown said...

The craziest part of this whole conversation is the juxtaposition of pedestrian versus cyclist when it is the cars that take up the lions share of our tax funded city street space and leave the rest of us fighting over the crumbs.

Bring on the congestion pricing and let the cars actually pay for their place in our city!

tom said...

@Carol from E 5th st very good point that would help the city generate some more income. Along with license plates for the bike, the bikes would also need safety inspection like a car as well. Since bikes are supposed to follow traffic laws like cars they should be treated like vehicles. Meaning no sidewalk riding! There should be a road test for bikes as well, im sure a lot of people will fail. But it is all for safety.

Man from the East Village said...

The DOT has also got to do something about the new turning zones they've installed on 1st ave and 7th St + 9th St.
Now motorists seem to be even less aware of the bike lanes that they're crossing.
I now constantly see motorists whip around at full speed, making turns there, many timesignoring bicyclists approaching the intersection, and many times getting caught blocking the bike
lane with the full length of the car, when there are pedestrians in the crosswalk.
The best idea is to put the 14th st + 1st ave style delayed light or else put back the mixing lanes that were there before and are much safer. The mixing lanes at least forced cars to slow down before the turn, most motorists now (not all) have been trained to use their side view mirrors to check for bicyclists in the bike lane,
and it's easier to get around a vehicle, while on a bike, when it's angled in the direction of traffic, not blocking it lengthwise.

cmarrtyy said...


Sorry. You're right. But the biker that was hit in Brooklyn went through the red light.