NYC: outrage over automotive terror —at last

Hundreds of bicyclists staged a "die-in" in New York's Washington Square Park July 9, expressing outrage over the spate of killings of cyclists on the city's streets. Three deaths came in a one-week period, finally prompting demands for public action: Robyn Hightman, a 20-year-old bicycle messenger and track racer, was killed by a truck driver in Manhattan. Ernest Askew, 57, riding an e-bike in Brooklyn, was hit and killed by a teen driver. And Devra Freelander, 28, an artist, was killed by a cement truck driver, also in Brooklyn.  (Bicycling, July 10) Hundreds of people gathered at 6th Avenue and West 23rd Street after the slaying of Hightman there on June 24. Hightman was the 12th cyclist killed on New York City streets in 2019; 10 were killed in all of 2018. (Gothamist, June 25) 

Hightman was found by police laying on the street, unconscious and unresponsive, with head trauma. The driver initially fled, but later returned to the scene. Media reports did not indicate that he was arrested. As The Villager reports, Hightman had been an advocate for bicylists, who had recently posted on social media:

As a homeless youth deeply entrenched in the trappings of poverty and parental abuse and neglect, my first bicycle offered a way to seek respite from the horrors of my surroundings and human experience, if only for a few glorious minutes. My bicycle established a sense of independence, strengthened my ability to be self sufficient, and provided me with the confidence necessary to advocate for myself, my rights, and my needs in public space... Eventually, my bicycle allowed me to provide for myself when I began working a full time job at the age of fourteen. My bicycle provided me with the socioeconomic mobility necessary to escape. My bicycle saved my life.

City Council member Brad Lander has introduced a bill to impound vehicles that rack up five or more moving violations in any 12-month period. (Streetsblog, July 10) But Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has made traffic safety a supposed priority with his Vision Zero campaign, sparked further outrage just a few days later by  defending a police officer who "forcefully stopped" a cyclist in the East Village—running over his CitiBike in the process.

The incident took place on Ave. A near Tompkins Square Park July 5—just three days after the mayor announced a new campaign to protect cyclists in response to the recent killings. A widely-shared video of the confrontation shows an unidentified officer—his SUV jack-knifed across the bike lane, the mangled CitiBike stuck under its wheels—accusing the cyclist of riding recklessly. "I'm going to use whatever means necessary to stop you, and that's for your safety," the officer tells him, drawing gasps and guffaws from the gathered crowd. (Gothamist, July 8)

The headline announcing the new safety campaign in the Daily News July 2 was all too telling: "NYPD announces plan to temporarily improve bike safety after slew of cyclist deaths." Temporarily. Right, let's wait for the news cycle to move on, then we can go back to killing bicyclists like normal.

Indeed, the NYPD has been escalating harassment of bicyclists of late. As Gothamist reported April 22:

For six years, bike messenger Shardy Nieves, 38, has organized the 4/20 Race and Bake relay bike race without any major issues with the NYPD. "At the finish line we have cookies, pizza, cupcakes, local bakeries sometimes sponsor it, it's just a way to bring the community together," Nieves told Gothamist.

But on Saturday afternoon, when Nieves arrived at the starting point for this year's race, Tompkins Square Park, he said he was greeted by name by an NYPD Lieutenant. "The officer had a manila envelope, and inside that envelope was screenshots of my social media and screenshots of the event," Nieves says. A few minutes later, Nieves was in handcuffs.

Nieves was told he was being arrested for an outstanding warrant stemming from an open container ticket he got in 2015.

And the automotive carnage that we have been documenting for years likewise escalates...

James Buzzell,  76, was fatally struck by a box truck backing into a parking spot near Union Square in May.  (Daily News, May 21) Earlier that month, police charged the driver of a Smart car who plowed into two people in Battery Park City, severing one victims' foot. (Daily News, May 11) Also that month, a car rammed into a man crossing Northern Blvd., critically injuring him. The city is supposedly planning a makeover of the Queens thoroughfare because of an alarming uptick in pedestrian fatalities there. (Daily News May 11)

Arlene Kalfus, 81, was struck and killed by a shuttle bus near Battery Park in April. No arrest was reported at the time. (The Villager, April 11)

Another metro area bicycling advocate, David Schlichting, 66, of Great Neck, who helped found the Five Boro Bike Tour more than four decades ago, was killed in March when he was struck by a minivan while riding his bike in Lake Success, Long Island. (Newsday, March 19)

Similar news is reported from across the country. In Washington DC, bicyclist and safe-streets advocate Dave Salovesh, 54, was killed by a speeding driver on Florida Ave. NE—another thoroughfare with a notoriously deadly reputation. Just days after Salovesh's death in April, Bronx resident Abdul Seck, 31, was fatally struck by a vehicle while visiting DC's Anacostia neighborhood. (SmartCities, April 30)

In June, an off-duty police officer lost control of his vehicle while allegedly driving drunk and plowed into a restaurant in Chicago's South Side, killing a woman who was dining inside. (ABC News, June 12)

In Los Angeles, where 21 bicyclists were killed last year, city officials aim to raise awareness of the issue by placing signs memorializing bike riders "who died in crashes."  (LA Curbed, April 8) Note that we take issue with this terminology.

In a truly perverse case, a trap set along a Colorado Springs bike trail severely injured a 69-year-old rider in March. Nard Claar suffered a broken right clavicle, three broken ribs, a concussion, and "road rash" when his bike got caught in a parachute cord intentionally strung across the trail. (Bicycling, April 17)

And in Guatemala back in March, more than 30 people were killed when a truck plowed into a crowd gathered at the site of a road collision that had left one dead. There was no report of an arrest. The "accident" (sic) took place in the municipality of Nahula, Sololá department. (Sky News, March 28)

But while this is of course a global pathology, the escalating road carnage in the United States is clearly linked to the current fascistic zeitgeist in the country.

As Vice reported April 24:

Researchers have now found an explanation for why many drivers act out toward cyclists: They are actually dehumanizing people who ride bikes, according to an April study by Australian researchers in the journal Transportation Research. And this dehumanization—the belief that a group of people are less than human—correlates to drivers' self-reported aggressive behavior.

Since 2010, cyclist fatalities have increased by 25 percent in the US. A total of 777 bicyclists were killed in crashes with drivers in 2017, and 45,000 were injured from crashes in 2015. Data compiled by the League of American Bicyclists also suggests that, in some states, bicyclists are overrepresented in the number of traffic fatalities.  

Added the municipal affairs website Strong Towns:

If anything else—a disease, terrorists, gun-wielding crazies—killed as many Americans as cars do, we'd regard it as a national emergency. Especially if the death rate had grown by 50 percent in less than a decade. But as new data from the Governor's Highway Safety Association (via Streetsblog) show, that's exactly what's happened with the pedestrian death toll in the U.S. In the nine years from 2009 to 2018, pedestrian deaths increased 51 percent from 4,109 to 6,227.

We have pointed out before that by any objective standard, cars are worse than terrorism. The escalating carnage may also be linked to the current depressed oil prices—reversing the downward trend in road fatalities during the oil shock a decade ago. But this issue brings together concerns of foreign wars for control of oil, the domestic police state, global climate destabilization, and the particular manifestation of Ugly Americanism evidenced under Donald Trump. It is long, long past due that we start viewing trafic "accidents" (sic) as a political issue, and a form of systemic oppression of those who (whether consciously or not) dissent from the hegemonic and ecocidal car culture.

Context on anti-bicycle backlash

So far this year, 81 New Yorkers have been killed in traffic "accidents." Exactly one of those deaths was caused by a bicyclist—and it was the first since 2017. (Vision Zero, Gothamist) Yet double-standard anger directed at bicyclists on supposed "safety" grounds continued to be manifested in the comments section of The Villager.

Motorist kills art teacher in Brooklyn

An art instructor and avid yoga teacher who rode her bike everywhere became the city's 18th cyclist fatality when she swerved into the path of a vehicle while trying to avoid an opening car door. M. Samolewicz, 30, was traveling on Third Ave. in Sunset Park when she was hit by the 10-wheeler semi. (Daily News)

...while NY Post fears 'bike supremacy'

A New York Post editorial against Mayor de Blasio's "Green Wave Bicycle Plan" is entitled "'Bike supremacy' is ruining the city." Bike supremacy? Is that like "special rights" or "reverse racism"?

Traffic 'state of emergency' for San Francisco?

San Francisco's deadly year for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists has street-safety advocates clamoring for city leaders to formally declare a "state of emergency."

The call comes in the aftermath of two pedestrian deaths in just four days. Benjamin Dean was struck and killed by the driver of Tesla who ran a red light at Taylor and O'Farrell streets on July 21. The 39-year-old was visiting from Clovis to celebrate a wedding anniversary, with his wife, Kelly Dean, who was seriously injured. Three days earlier, the driver of a big rig fatally struck 54-year-old Michael Evans, dragging him two blocks to Fifth and Market streets before fleeing the scene.

On July 23, outside City Hall—where the Deans were married—street-safety advocates and San Francisco representatives called on Mayor London Breed to formally proclaim a citywide emergency. Doing so could unlock funds needed to speed up street-safety projects, advocates urged. (SF Weekly)

Propaganda wars in NYC car-nage

Michael Collopy, 60, died of his injuries after being struck by a bicyclist at 23rd St and 8th Ave, The Villager reports. This is terrible (of course), although we note, first, that the medical examiner is disputing the police account that he died as a result of being struck. And, secondly, that he was standing in the bike lane.

But we can already hear the hypocritical anti-bicycle reaction. He is the third pedestrian killed by a cyclist in NYC in as many years. There have already been 88 New Yorkers (including 18 bicyclists) killed by motorists so far this year. The most recent cyclist to die was Em Samolewicz, 30, an art teacher, struck by a truck in Sunset Park July 29. (Daily News) No arrests were reported in either case.

I called out the double standard in a letter to The Villager last week, in response to the unseemly anti-bicycle pile-on in their comments section.

Iris Crespo: Say her name.

An elderly woman walking in Chelsea was killed on Aug. 8, after being hit by a taxi around 1 p.m., according to police. The 77-year-old victim was identified as Iris Crespo, of 60 Amsterdam Ave. She was trying to cross W. 22nd St. at Eighth Ave., and was within the marked crosswalk, when she was struck by the taxi heading uptown on Eighth Ave. The force of the collision caused Crespo to land underneath a parked car, officials said.

After hitting Crespo, the hack, Daniel Fusaro, 82, a Queens resident, continued driving north before ramming into a parked vehicle, police said.

When officers arrived at the scene, they found Crespo unconscious and unresponsive on the street, with trauma to her head and body. EMS took her to Bellevue Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The cabbie was taken into custody and charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian, failure to obey a traffic signal and failure to exercise due care. An investigation into the incident is ongoing by the Police Department’s Collision Investigation Squad. (The Villager)

Jose Alzorriz: say his name

From the Daily News, Aug. 11:

A teen driver who blew through a red light in Brooklyn caused a chain-reaction car crash Sunday that took the life of a bicyclist — the 19th killed on city streets this year.

A silver Dodge Charger zooming down Coney Island Ave. in Midwood barreled through the light and smacked into a Honda Pilot heading east on Avenue L at about 12:30 p.m.

The impact pushed the Honda into the cyclist, 52-year-old Jose Alzorriz of Park Slope, and sprayed debris onto a pedestrian, said police. The Honda careened onto the sidewalk, and pinned Alzorriz against a building.

The suspect was released without charges.

Melissa McClure: say her name.

A Chelsea woman died of her injuries Aug. 13 after being hit by a turning pick-up truck three days earlier. Police said Melissa McClure, 67, and another woman, age 59, were crossing W. 15th St. at Sixth Ave. when they were hit by the front of the vehicle, knocking them down. The pickup truck’s driver remained at the scene and was not injured. There were no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing. (The Villager)

This was not a 'crash'

From the Daily News, Sept. 2:

A bicycle-riding burglary suspect was killed Monday as revenge by one of his victims — an incensed SUV driver who mowed him down in a crazed caught-on-camera crash in Brooklyn, police sources said.

Once again, "crash" as a euphemism for homicide.

More anti-bicycle propaganda from NY Post

More blame-the-victim propaganda from the evil NY Post. Amid a wave of motorist slayings of bicyclists this, is what they choose to run—an editorial entitled "NYC bicyclists are killing pedestrians and the city won't stop it." Complete with emotionally manipulative image of a wounded child—who, contrary to the implication of the headline, was not killed, and suffered to critical injuries. Three people have been killed by bicyclists in NYC in the past three years. So far this year, 121 have been killed by motorists. The figure for 2018 was an even 200. The figure for 2017 was 221. DO NOT EAT THIS VOMIT.

Enzo Farachio: say his name

An out-of-control driver mounted the sidewalk and ran over 10-year-old Enzo Farachio, who was waiting at a bus stop in Midwood, killing him. (Streetsblog, Sept. 10)

Police are also investigating an incident in Bushwick in which an SUV driver apparently chased down and intentionally killed a man on a bicycle, who had tried to break into his car. He was the 21st bicyclists killed in the city this year. (Streetsblog, Sept. 2)

De Blasio mulls licenses for bicyclists

During a press conference last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he was considering making CitiBike riders wear helmets and require all cyclists to get licenses. (The Villager)

This licenses-for-bicyclists jive is victim-blaming bollocks of the lowest order. It is disincentivizing the solution to the plague of traffic fatalities—or a big part of it. Instead of burdening bicyclists with bureaucracy there should be a vigorous crackdown on lawless motorists. As of today, there have been 123 traffic fatalities in New York City this year. Two of those were due to bicyclists. The rest due to motorists. This focus on bicyclists as the problem is out of wack in the extreme.

SUV kills tot in Bronx

A 1-year-old child has died after a vehicle involved in a two-car crash jumped a curb and struck a stroller in the Bronx. The driver has since been taken into custody. (WABC)

Mario Valenzuela: say his name

From ABC7-NY:

A teenager riding his bike was killed when he was run over by a dump truck in Queens.

The truck driver and the bicyclist were traveling east on Borden Avenue in Long Island City on Saturday afternoon.

When the driver made a right turn on 11th Street, he struck the bicyclist with his back wheels. Officials say the wheels of the truck then ran over the cyclist.

Mario Valenzuela died at the scene.

A witness says the truck driver was devastated. He stayed on the scene.

"He said he was coming in and he didn't even notice that the cyclist just went into the back tire of the truck," said Victor Fernandez. "He was crying, I felt bad for the guy."

Police have made no arrests.

City records show Valenzuela is the 22nd bicyclist to die in a crash this year.

Relevant lines: "crash" and "no arrests."

Elou Rakhminov: say his name

From the NY Daily News

A tight-knit Queens family was reeling Sunday after the death of a retired watch repairman who was mowed down on a busy Kew Gardens Hills roadway — exactly seven months after his wife was struck and injured on the same street, blocks away.

Elou Rakhminov, 75, was killed Saturday night crossing Jewel Ave. near 140th St. The 30-year-old driver remained at the scene, and no charges were immediately filed.

Incredibly, his wife, Tamara Rakhminova, was struck at 147th St. on Feb. 21, the couple's devastated daughter, Basanda Rakhminova, told the Daily News.

Anne McLaughlin: say her name.

From the Tampa Bay Times, Sept. 28:

ST. PETERSBURG — Bicyclists dying on local streets is an all too common tragedy, but the recent death of Anne McLaughlin was all the more painful because she was struck and killed along a stretch of roadway that had been reworked for safer pedaling.

On Saturday morning, St. Pete Bike Co-op organized a memorial ride for the 25-year-old McLaughlin past the 2800 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N, where she was killed Sept. 19 while crossing at a flashing beacon.

The ride also memorialized all cyclists and pedestrians who have become casualties of the street.

Dalerjon Shahobiddinov: say his name

From the NY Post:

A 10-year-old boy riding a bicycle was struck and killed by an unlicensed driver Saturday — just steps away from his Brooklyn home, police said.

Dalerjon Shahobiddinov was riding his orange bicycle in the crosswalk near Seton Place and Foster Avenue in Kensington at about 10:30 a.m. when he was mowed down by a man in a 2002 Ford Explorer who was making a left turn, police said.

He was just around the corner from his family's home when he was struck, police said.

Shahobiddinov was rushed to Maimonides Hospital in critical condition with severe body trauma, but could not be saved, officials said.

The 29-year-old driver, identified by police as Victor Majia, remained on the scene and was arrested shortly after the accident, according to officials.

He was charged with motor vehicle failure to yield to a bicyclist, motor vehicle license violation, and failure to exercise due care.

The boy's death is the 23rd accidental bike fatality this year — more than double last year’s numbers.

Motoring notes from all over

From Raw Story, Sept. 19:

A Wisconsin police officer will not face charges after he chased and killed a black man who did not have a bicycle light.

According to WITI, Police Sgt. Eric Giese of Mount Pleasant will not be charged in the killing of 18-year-old Ty’Rese West.

Racine County District Attorney Patricia Hanson said that she determined that Giese actions "fall under the privilege of self-defense."

From Berkeleyside, Oct. 2:

Michael Diehl, whose work with the homeless and poor on Berkeley's streets earned him the nickname "the Mayor of Berkeley streets," was killed Sunday when a driver struck him around 8:30 p.m. in Newark, according to authorities.

Diehl was not in a crosswalk when he traversed busy Newark Boulevard just north of Cedar Boulevard, according to Newark Police Capt. Jonathan Arguello. The 36-year-old Pinole driver who struck Diehl is cooperating in the investigation.

"There's no indication of any wrongdoing," said Arguello.

Diehl, 64, was one of Berkeley's most visible activists, having worked on a range of issues the last 40 years including keeping the punk rock club 924 Gilman Street Project open, protesting the placement of volleyball courts and housing in People's Park, and advocating for better treatment of the poor, the homeless and those with mental illnesses.

From The Telegraph, Oct. 2:

An Australian teenager has been charged over the deaths of 20 kangaroos, which he allegedly mowed down with his truck in a killing spree that lasted an hour.

The dead kangaroos, including two joeys, were found littered over roads in Tura Beach, 280 miles south of Sydney, on Sunday morning.

At least three other joeys were orphaned as a result of the disturbing attack, according to wildlife rescue group WIRES.

Police said on Wednesday the man, 19, had been arrested and charged with animal cruelty offences on Tuesday.

The man allegedly hit and killed the marsupials with his utility vehicle late on Saturday night.

Portland activist killed by SUV

From Portland Mercury, Oct. 12:

Early Saturday morning, Sean D. Kealiher, a 23-year-old Portland activist, was killed after being struck by an SUV near the Cider Riot taphouse in Northeast Portland. Kealiher's death is being investigated as a homicide.

Trump defends automotive terror

From The Independent, Oct. 10:

Donald Trump has defended the wife of a US diplomat accused of killing a British teenager in a road accident, suggesting it is difficult to drive on the other side of the road and that "it happens".

Speaking at the White House after a conversation with prime minister Boris Johnson, during which he apparently rejected a request to consider waiving the woman's diplomatic immunity and her returning to Britain to face the police, the president said he wanted to try and bring about "healing".

Mr Trump said the US would shortly be speaking to the woman, and that there were many Americans who sympathised with the plight of teenager's parents, who he said was killed in a "terrible accident".

Yet he also appeared to back the diplomat's wife, Anne Sacoolas, saying that it could be difficult "driving on the opposite side of the road".

"The woman was driving on the wrong side of the road. That can happen," he said. "Those are the opposite side of the road. I won’t say it ever happened to me, but it but it did."

'Fleetwide' hack attack feared

From the LA Daily News, July 31:

Advanced technologies have greatly improved the functionality of cars, but Internet connections to critical safety systems in the top 2020 vehicles leave them vulnerable to fleetwide hacks, according to a new report.

The study, "Kill Switch: Why Connected Cars Can Be Killing Machines And How To Turn Them Off," was compiled over a period of five months by Los Angeles-based Consumer Watchdog with the help of car industry technologists. Unveiled at a press conference Wednesday, the report warns that a fleetwide attack at rush hour could disable the brakes, steering or airbags on vehicles, resulting in a 9-11 scale catastrophe with as many as 3,000 deaths.

Automakers have acknowledged that cyberattacks pose a threat as Internet connectivity plays an increasingly bigger role in the operation of vehicles.

Air quality drops under Trump

From The Independent, Oct. 25:

A new study shows that air quality in the United States suffered between 2016 and 2018, after seven straight years of improvement starting during the first years of Barack Obama's administration.

The rise in pollution— which data shows started in 2016, just before Donald Trump took office and after years of economic recovery in the United States — has led to thousands of premature deaths across the country, according to the economists from Carnegie Mellon University who studied Environmental Protection Agency data from those time periods.

The causes of the rise in particulate matter comes from a variety of sources, the researchers said, including a strong US economy, the burning of wildfires in parched areas of the country, and the destruction of American environmental protection rules, which Donald Trump's administration has pursued vigorously.

Yes, he has.

Eduardo Calleabril: say his name

From WPIX, Oct. 22:

An employee for the Department of Transportation was killed when he was accidentally struck and run over by a colleague driving a truck near Gracie Mansion in Upper Manhattan early Tuesday, police said.

According to the FDNY, a call came in just after 1 a.m. for a person struck on East 88th Street, between York and East End avenues, less than a block from Gracie Mansion.

When police arrived, they found 44-year-old Eduardo Calleabril, of Queens, lying in the road, unconscious and unresponsive, with injuries to his body, the NYPD said.

Victim-blaming in Lindenhurst

From Newsday, Oct. 20:

Lindenhurst Village became the latest municipality to crack down on reckless bicyclists after trustees voted to confiscate bikes from dangerous riders.

The village board held a public hearing before voting to follow neighboring Babylon Village in prosecuting those who purposely block traffic, drive toward oncoming vehicles, make unsafe maneuvers and antagonize drivers...

Under the law, either Suffolk County Police or a village public safety officer could seize the bike, and if the rider is a minor, call the parents and later release the bike.

Those of legal age found to have violated traffic law could be subject to a fine up to $250.

Plan to 'revolutionize' NYC streets?

From Gothamist, Oct. 30:

The City Council approved a plan...aimed at "revolutionizing" the way pedestrians, cyclists, and bus riders move through the five boroughs.

Spearheaded by Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the so-called "streets master plan" passed the council by a vote of 37 to 9, with two abstentions. The legislation requires the city to to build 250 miles of protected bike lanes and 150 miles of dedicated bus lanes over a five-year period. It also mandates construction of one million square feet of pedestrian space in the first two years, as well new accessibility upgrades...

But don't expect drivers to relinquish their grip on city streets immediately. In order to secure Mayor Bill de Blasio's support, it was announced this week that the first of two master plans won't be due until December 2021—one month before the current mayor leaves office. Prior to that compromise, the ambitious benchmarks would've been outlined in the coming weeks, and put into place starting next year...

While the mayor had repeatedly expressed reservations about the bill's targets, a City Hall spokesperson told Gothamist this week that he'd "always supported the goals behind the Master Plan building on our Vision Zero agenda."

The spokesperson also noted that engineers will start planning for the comprehensive street redesigns immediately, citing Johnson's calls for a "total reshaping" of the Department of Transportation. It's unclear why, six years after that start of Vision Zero, the transportation agency does not currently have the resources in place to begin work on a master streets plan.

De Blasio's signature transportation initiative has faced a barrage of criticism in recent months, as the number of cyclists killed this year has spiked to 26, the highest total in two decades. Until the new plan takes effect in 2022, the city will continue with its current commitment to building 30 miles of protected bike lanes annually.

Outrage over bust of Oregon cyclist

From Oregon Live, Oct. 24:

Oregon State Police this week publicly released the body camera footage of the controversial arrest of a 21-year-old Oregon State University student who was stopped by a trooper last week for allegedly riding her bicycle on the wrong side of a Corvallis street.

At a news conference Tuesday, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People expressed concerns over “implicit bias” and “systemic racism” after the Oct. 13 arrest of Genesis Hansen, who describes herself in the body cam video as "an African American mixed woman."

No charges for car terrorist

From JTA, Oct. 24:

A grand jury declined to indict a former US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer who drove his truck into a row of Jewish protesters at an ICE detention center.

Capt. Thomas Woodworth resigned his position days after the August incident at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls [RI], where protesters were blocking an entrance. The demonstrators were part of Never Again Action, a new Jewish group protesting ICE and US immigration policy by getting arrested at ICE detention facilities.

Norman Hood Jr: say his name

From KCRA, Sacramento, Nov. 7:

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Michigan State Police have released dashboard camera footage from the night an 11-year-old boy was hit and killed by a deputy's cruiser.

The deputy was responding to a burglary call when he struck and killed Norman Hood Jr. May 28 crash in Battle Creek. He hadn’t activated his vehicle’s overhead lights and siren.

Fox 17 reports police say the deputy was going 66 mph in a 30 mph zone.

The sheriff’s office believes the boy turned his minibike into the path of the patrol car.

The prosecutor declined to press charges but Hood’s family has filed a lawsuit seeking $25 million. It lists the county and unnamed deputy as defendants.

27th bicyclist of 2017 killed in NYC —in hit-and-run

From ABC 7:

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) — Police are searching for the driver who fatally struck a bicyclist in East Harlem early Saturday.

The incident happened at about 3 a.m. at East 125th Street and First Avenue.

The 25-year-old bicyclist was found in the middle of an intersection and rushed to Harlem Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators determined a Kenworth dump truck traveling southbound on First Avenue made an illegal left turn onto East 125th Street attempting to enter the Willis Avenue Bridge and struck the bicyclist traveling southbound on a bike path coming off the bridge.

The truck kept on going and was last seen heading north on the Willis Avenue Bridge. It is not yet clear whether the driver realized that someone had been hit.

Police are reviewing video of the crash. So far there have been no arrests.

The victim's identity has not yet been released.

Amish family hospitalized after truck strikes buggy

From The Detroit News, Aug. 26:

Camden Township, Mich. — An Amish family of four was airlifted to a hospital after their buggy was struck by a truck Saturday, according to published reports.

Witnesses told the Hillsdale Daily News that a silver pickup truck struck the horse-drawn buggy carrying an adult male, his wife, a small child and an infant at about 11 a.m. Saturday. WILX.com said the crash happened on Dimmers Road just east of South Edon Road.

Four helicopters arrived to airlift the family to hospitals in neighboring counties, WLNS.com Lansing reported. The driver of the pickup truck was not injured.

The crash is the latest in a number of buggy-vehicle crashes. In June, three children were killed in California Township in southern Michigan when the Amish buggy they were riding in was struck by a truck.

In July, six children were injured in a crash on the state's west side after a vehicle struck a buggy carrying eight people.

Eight people died in 135 accidents involving the horse-drawn carriages from 2014 to 2019, according to the Michigan State Police. The figure doesn’t include the June accident.

We have also noted such incidents before.

Border Patrol agent gets probation for running over migrant

From Phoenix New Times, Nov. 20:

Matthew Bowen, a Nogales Border Patrol agent accused of intentionally running over a Guatemalan man in 2017 and then lying about it, was sentenced today to three years of probation and a possible $8,000 in restitution fees...

On December 3, 2017, Bowen hit Antolin Rolando Lopez-Aguilar, a Guatemalan migrant, with his official Border Patrol truck, nearly running him over after Lopez-Aguilar appeared to be trying to cross into the United States illegally, according to court documents.

During the hearing, federal prosecutors said Lopez-Aguilar, who was out of state and had declined to attend, had reported that he thought he was going to die at the time of the attack. Prosecutors also said he has been unable to continue needed physical therapy for injuries to his hands, knees, and back due to lack of money, and regularly wakes up due to the terror and the ongoing pain the incident caused.

Bowen, who's 39, admits he intentionally struck Lopez-Aguilar.

Good news, bad news on NYC road carnage

Timothy Cardinal Dolan joins with other faith leaders from New York to issue a statement entitled "We can no longer accept traffic deaths," online at the Brooklyn Eagle.

Meanwhile, from the Daily News, Nov. 16:

It took only seconds for an off-duty cop’s early morning FDR Drive joyride to veer into tragedy.

A three-year veteran NYPD cop racing his speeding Lexus against another car along the East Side highway was killed early Saturday after plowing his vehicle into a concrete median, catapulting a female passenger and her rookie FDNY boyfriend into oncoming traffic, police said.

The woman’s right foot was severed, while the firefighter was fighting for his life with massive injuries following the horrifying one-car wreck.

Officer Garman Chen, 25, was driving at a high rate of speed just north of the E. 23rd St. exit when he lost control of the black luxury car at 2:38 a.m. and slammed into the barrier as the one-car wreck sent a shower of gigantic orange sparks into the night sky before grinding to a halt atop the median, police said.

A high-ranking police source said it appeared Chen, who was pinned inside the twisted remains of his car, was racing against another vehicle when the fatal crash occurred.

Shortly after first responders finally cut the unconscious cop out of the crumpled vehicle, the young officer was declared dead at Bellevue Hospital.

Off-duty rookie firefighter Kenneth Larkin of Ladder Co. 10 was listed in extremely critical condition after he landed on the southbound side of the FDR, where he somehow avoided getting run down by another car, cops said. His girlfriend Amanda Remy, 25, was also sent sailing from the speeding Lexus and taken with him to Bellevue Hospital, police said.

Demand justice for Martina Standley

From the Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 19:

A Chicago police officer recklessly turned his police car into a weapon in the South Shore neighborhood when the officer ran over an unarmed woman, causing her to suffer a traumatic brain injury, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Martina Standley, 32, had "attempted to communicate" with officers inside a police SUV when the officer behind the wheel accelerated from a parked position and turned into her, causing Standley's head to strike the ground, the lawsuit stated.

NY cops persecute victims

Gothamist runs a maddening story (with gut-wrenching video) of a delivery cyclist who was sent flying and injured after getting "doored" by a car he had to swerve around because it was in the bike lane—and then the cop who showed up while he was still unresponsive on the ground threatened to give him a summons for riding outside of the bike lane! This touches on the legal ambiguity of whether cyclists are required to be in the bike lanes. Gothamist says they are, which we protest as tyranny—and raises the question of what rights cyclists have on streets where there are no bike lanes. It is not clear the cyclist was in fact given a summons—or if the motorist was penalized or even reprimanded.

Unlicensed motorist kills Harlem tot

From Streetsblog, Dec. 9:

An unlicensed pickup truck driver ran over and killed a little boy, and injured his mother, as she pushed the tot in a stroller on a Harlem street on Monday morning, cops said — the third 3-year-old child and the sixth under the age of 11 who have been fatally struck by drivers so far this year.

According to the NYPD, 59-year-old Jaime Sabogal was collared shortly after the crash and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, plus failure to yield and failure to exercise due care

29th bicyclist of the year killed NYC —amid semantic confusion

The 29th bicyclist of the year was slain in New York City Dec. 18, run down by a schoolbus full of kids on Fifth Ave. at 96th St. The driver was not arrested (of course). (Gothamist)

Even coverage sympathetic to cyclists continues to use the problemaic word "crash." CityLimits asks: "What's Behind NYC's Mounting Cyclist Death Toll?"

As of mid-December, NYPD data lists 27 cyclists who’ve been struck and killed by vehicles this year, though advocacy groups put the count at 28. That's up from a record-low of 10 cyclist fatalities in 2018, and experts say it's hard to pinpoint a direct or single cause behind the increase. They instead point to a confluence of factors, including an increasing population, more cars and larger vehicles on city streets, and insufficient bike infrastructure that hasn't kept up with the growing popularity of cycling...

The increase is in line with other city and national trends: While New York’s overall traffic deaths hit a record low in 2018, pedestrian deaths rose from the year before, to 115 fatalities (in 2019 so far, there have been 112 crashes where pedestrians were killed, NYPD data shows). Nationwide, 857 cyclists were killed in traffic last year, up 22 percent from 2017, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Similar analysis, and unfortunate terminology, is offered by Gothamist:

It has been a dangerous year to ride a bike in New York City. More cyclists have died in 2019 than any other year since 2000. While overall risk cyclists face has significantly decreased this century, as more and more New Yorkers bike, the city is still struggling to meet its stated goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024. Overall traffic deaths have increased compared to the same time last year—205 up from 192 according to the Department of Transportation. Cycling deaths have nearly tripled this year compared to last.

Since January 1st we have reported on the preliminary investigations, the ensuing cyclist ticketing blitzs, and the occasional criminal charges. Eighteen crashes took place in Brooklyn. Twelve involved a truck. All but one involved a driver. Mayor Bill de Blasio acknowledged the crisis in July, and committed to accelerating the installation of protected bike lanes in underserved neighborhoods like Brownsville and Corona. Since the mayor announced these efforts, ten more cyclists have been killed by drivers.

Even CityLab, in a piece exploring "How Media Coverage of Car Crashes Downplays the Role of Drivers," unconsciously plays into the very propaganda it decries...

Since 2013, deaths among pedestrians and cyclists on U.S. roads have risen by nearly 30 percent and 14 percent respectively. Yet the public reaction to this spike in deaths has been fairly muted. Why?

One possible reason: road safety advocates have long complained that media outlets tend to blame pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by cars. A paper published earlier this year in a journal of the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board offers proof that they’re right.

Authored by a team of researchers at Rutgers University, Arizona State University, and Texas A&M University, the paper asks two main questions. First: how do news articles apportion blame in crashes between drivers on the one hand, and pedestrians and cyclists on the other? (The paper refers to pedestrians and cyclists collectively as "vulnerable road users," or VRUs.) And second, to what extent do news stories frame these crashes as a public health problem, and therefore preventable, rather than as "accidents" (a word that implies they are unavoidable)?

Using an automated script and a news aggregator, the authors (Kelcie Ralph, Evan Iacobucci, Calvin G. Thigpen, and Tara Goddard) collected more than 4,000 articles about crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists published in local news outlets in February and March 2018. Out of these, they selected a sample of 200 for detailed content analysis. Half of the pieces in the sample (100 articles) concerned a crash involving someone who was walking, while the other half reported on a crash involving a cyclist.

News stories overwhelmingly (but often subtly) shift blame onto pedestrians and cyclists, the researchers found. "Coverage almost always obscures the public health nature of the problem by treating crashes as isolated incidents, by referring to crashes as accidents, and by failing to include input from planners, engineers, and other road safety experts," they write.

Despite its suggestion of inevitability and faultlessness, ‘"accident" was the most commonly used term for crashes, occurring in 47 percent of sentences in articles’ body text and 11 percent of titles across the sample. News reports were also much more likely to use phrases like "a pedestrian or cyclist was hit by a car" instead of "a driver hit a pedestrian." (Journalists, it should be noted, have legal obligations to avoid placing blame on either party without an official determination by police or other authorities.)

OK, all very interesting... but how exactly is the word "crash" any better than "accident"? Sorry. When a pedestrian or bicyclist is killed by a motorist, it isn't a "crash." It's homicide—involuntary manslaughter, at best.

Automotive terror in Des Moines and Portland

A Des Moines woman has been charged with attempted murder after she told police she intentionally ran over a 14-year-old girl because she believed the teen was Mexican. (Detroit News)

Meanwhile in Oregon, a local Portland personality survived being hit by a car. Brian Kidd, better known as his unicycle-riding bagpipe playing alter-ego, the Unipiper, was hit while riding a bicycle through the Buckman neighborhood. (The Oregonian)

Katherine Miller: say her name

From The Village Sun, Dec. 23:

A Hell’s Kitchen woman was killed by a reversing box truck while she was on her way to an exercise class in Soho last Thursday.

The Daily News reported that Katherine Miller, 26, above, was in the crosswalk at Broadway and Howard St. when a Ferraro Foods truck that had backed up an entire block struck her.

The truck driver stayed at the scene and has not been charged.

Miller—who was headed to a Pilates class—was a Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, native and a Bucknell University graduate. She worked at Burt Americas, Inc., a Swedish tech start-up, and donated some of her free time to a local soup kitchen. She was set to marry her fiance, Anil Prakash, on Sept. 4, the News reported...

The young tech employee was one of six pedestrians fatally struck by cars and trucks in the city in a three-day stretch last week. Also in Manhattan, a man in his 30s was killed on Friday by a private recycling truck making a left turn at 10th Ave. and 49th St. in Hell’s Kitchen around 4:40 a.m. The driver was arrested for failing to yield to a pedestrian and exercise due care. The victim’s name is not being released publicly yet pending family notification.

The other fatalities included one in Queens and three more in Brooklyn.

Bicycle delivery workers protest in Italy

In Turin, bicycle riders took to the streets to protest Glovo delivery service in support of a worker identified as Zohaib, a young Pakistani immigrat who is fighting for his life after being struck by a car. Cyclcists occupied the city's  Piazza Castello. (La Stampa, Dissapore)

NYC traffic fatality total for 2019

Citing NYC Department of Transportation figures, Eyewitness News reported Dec. 31 a total of 218 traffic fatalities in 2019, including 121 pedestrians and 28 bicyclists—although earlier reports had put the number of cyclists killed at 29. In any case, that’s a 200% increase in cyclist fatalities over 2018. Cyclists were themselves responsible for two of the 218 deaths.

NYC parents stand up to automotive terror

From NBC New York, Jan. 11:

Parents in New York City are calling for safer streets.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams stood with parents on Saturday to call on lawmakers to pass the Reckless Drive Accountability Act. The bill would strip driving privileges from people who have multiple violations.

New York City has seen five pedestrian deaths in the first weeks of 2020. Among the victims, a 10-year-old child hit by a city sanitation truck.

90-year-old man killed by city car on Canal St.

From the Village Sun:

An elderly man was fatally struck by a city vehicle at Canal and Elizabeth Sts. on Saturday around 6:30 a.m., police said.

Responding to a 911 call, officers found the victim, 90, lying in the street with trauma to the body. E.M.S. medics transported him to Bellevue Hospital where he was pronounced dead...

The driver remained at the scene and was not charged. The investigation is ongoing.

A police spokesperson confirmed the driver is a Sanitation employee...

Police have the victim’s name but, following usual protocol, are not releasing it publicly until they notify his family first.

Win Lu Hon: say his name.

Police have released the name of the elderly man who was fatally struck by a Department of Sanitation vehicle while crossing Canal St. early on the morning of Jan. 25. A department spokesperson identified the victim as Win Lu Hon, 90, who lived at 236 Mulberry St., just seven blocks from where he was hit. (Village Sun)

Bob Nill: say his name

From WDAF in Kansas City, Feb. 19:

Crossing guard, 88, dies saving kids from speeding car outside school
KANSAS CITY, Kan.  – An 88-year-old school crossing guard is being hailed as a hero after he saved two kids in front of a Kansas school from an approaching car before he was fatally struck.

Bob Nill, 88, was working the crosswalk Tuesday morning in front of Christ the King Parish School, a private Catholic school in Kansas City, Kansas. Officials say a speeding car hit and killed the crossing guard while he was out doing his job. He was taken to the hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Witnesses told police he protected two kids by pushing them out of the way of the approaching vehicle.

Bob Nill's family says his actions are no surprise and that extraordinary kindness and generosity were a part of his DNA. He had worked the crosswalk in front of the school for five years.

10-year-old girl killed by a school bus in Brooklyn

A 10-year-old girl killed by a school bus in Brooklyn brings to over 20 the number of pedestrians slain by motorists on New York City streets this year. (NYT, Feb. 25)

Patience Albert: say her name

From the NY Post, Feb. 25:

The school bus driver accused of fatally mowing down a 10-year-old girl in Brooklyn early Tuesday has been arrested, police said.

Pedro Colon, 61, was slapped with charges of failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care for the 6:45 a.m. collision that left little Patience Albert dead, cops said.

Speeding up in NYC amid COVID-19 crisis

New York's normally congested streets are empty because of the coronavirus pandemic—and some drivers are taking this as an invitation to speed. Data from the Department of Finance shows that tickets issued by speed cameras jumped in the month of March, even as traffic dropped dramatically. According to Streetsblog, which first reported on the data, there were 180,718 tickets issued on the weekdays from March 5 to March 24, representing a jump of more than 12 percent over the same period in January. (Curbed)

Cyclist killed by bus driver in Flatbush 'danger zone'

A cyclist, apparently making a delivery, was killed by an on-duty MTA bus driver on April 28 afternoon at a dangerous intersection in Flatbush.

According to police, both Tadeusz Czajkowski, 67, and the bus driver were traveling northbound on Rogers Ave. when Czajkowski "attempted to make a left turn on to Clarendon Road," where he was hit by the bus. The 47-year-old driver, whose name was not released, remained at the scene and was not charged. A video of the incident suggests the bus was traveling at a high rate of speed, relative to the e-bike-riding cyclist. It also brings into question the police narrative that the cyclist was preparing to "make a left turn."

Czajkowski is the second cyclist killed this year—and the first since January. Fatalities and crashes are down significantly this year because there are so many fewer cars on the road during the COVID-19 lockdown, which began in mid-March. Statistics show that the total number of miles being driven in automobiles is down nearly 90%. Pedestrian deaths have also plummeted as a result of the reduction in driving. (Streetsblog)

Janette Sadik-Khan on global bicycle agenda

Former NYC transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and co-author Seth Solomonow happily have a piece in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs, foremost forum of the policy elite, "Mean Streets: The Global Traffic Death Crisis." It is a sign of hope to see such ideas expressed there—including a brief discussion of the terminology dilemma. These ideas are all the more timely in light of COVID-19...

In the United States, federal and state street-design guidelines explicitly promote wider lanes, even though they are known to be deadlier. In other words, far from being "accidents"—and indeed, the World Health Organization and other traffic-safety proponents have shunned that term—traffic deaths are caused by roads that are operating exactly as designed...

Between 2007 and 2013, the [NYC] Department of Transportation redesigned lengthy portions of 137 streets and revamped 113 intersections—expanding the space to walk, decreasing crossing distances for pedestrians, and making streets navigable enough for children, senior citizens, and people with physical disabilities to cross...

What's more, we converted 180 acres of New York City road space into bike lanes, bus lanes, and new pedestrian space. This included making 2.5 acres in Times Square car free: Broadway was transformed from a taxi-choked corridor into a walkable haven...

The results were visible in every borough—in the crowded avenues of Manhattan, the residential side streets of Brooklyn, the commercial centers of Queens, and the busy boulevards of the Bronx and Staten Island, many of which hadn't changed in generations. From 2001 to 2019, traffic deaths along all of New York City's 6,000 miles of roadway dropped by over 44 percent—from 394 to just 219—even as the number of pedestrians on the city's streets increased and bike ridership tripled. The city saw a 37 percent drop in pedestrian deaths and similar reductions for those injured in a car...

In cities as different as Chicago and Los Angeles, there is frequent talk of licensing bike riders or requiring them to wear bike helmets. Although bike helmets are a reasonable precaution, legally requiring them for all riders only reduces the number of cyclists on the street and thus the traffic-calming effect that they bring. In many Australian cities, for example, helmet laws have not lowered traffic deaths; instead, they have merely hobbled public bike-share systems, whose riders don't want to carry a helmet wherever they go. Helmets aren’t what make biking safer. There are no helmet requirements in Denmark, the Netherlands, or Norway—countries where bikes are widely used for transportation and that nonetheless report fewer bike deaths per mile ridden than the United States.

Thank you, Janette.

Senior cyclist killed in Manhattan still nameless

From The Village Sun, May 24:

Police still have not released the identity of a septugenarian cyclist who was fatally struck by an SUV outside Stuyvesant Town on Tues., May 5.

On that day, around 10:18 a.m., officers responded to a 911 call of a cyclist hit on E. 14th St. near First Ave. Cops found a 72-year-old woman unconscious and unresponsive with severe trauma to the head.

An E.M.S. ambulance transported the victim to Bellevue Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

According to a preliminary police investigation, a 33-year-old man was driving a 2019 Cadillac SUV eastbound on 14th St., when he reversed into a parking space. The cyclist was crossing E. 14th St. from north to south midblock, when she was struck by the SUV as it was backing up.

The vehicle’s operator remained at the scene. The investigation remains ongoing.

Apparently, the woman did have ID on her. But police spokespersons told The Village Sun that while they do know the woman’s identity, per department protocol, they cannot release her name until they first notify her family.

However, to date, police have been unable to track down any family members for her.

Susan Feterman: say her name

The senior citizen killed on East 14th St. on May 5 is now identified as Susan Feterman. Her friends and neighbors remember her as an avid bicyclist. (The Village Sun)

NYPD use cars as weapons

Police are using their squad cars as weapons in their repression of protesters decrying police violence, Streetsblog reports. Videos filmed on May 30 by witnesses show multiple incidents of NYPD officers using their vehicles to intimidate, endanger and willfully attempt to injure. Most of the videos were taken along Flatbush Ave. in Brooklyn.

Another cyclist killed in NYC —third this month

An MTA bus driver struck and killed a cyclist in midtown Manhattan on June 16. According to police, the unidentified cyclist was heading south on Fifth Avenue when the bus caught up to her and struck her near the corner of 59th Street. She died at the scene from head trauma. Although her name has not been released, she was reported to be 19 years old.

The death marks the seventh person to be killed on a bicycle in the city this year, a slight dip from the 12 deaths recorded by this point in 2019. Still, advocates worry this year is shaping up to be just as tragic as last year for cyclists, when 29 people died by the end of the year on bikes, the highest number since at least 1999. Two other cyclists were killed earlier this month, both in the Bronx. (Daily NewsStreetsblog)

Vehicle attacks rise as extremists target protesters

From NPR, June 21:

Right-wing extremists are turning cars into weapons, with reports of at least 50 vehicle-ramming incidents since protests against police violence erupted nationwide in late May.

At least 18 are categorized as deliberate attacks; another two dozen are unclear as to motivation or are still under investigation, according to a count released Friday by Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago's Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Weil has tracked vehicle-ramming attacks, or VRAs, since protests began.

The 20 people facing prosecution in the rammings include a state leader of the Virginia Ku Klux Klan, as well as a California man who was charged with attempted murder after antagonizing protesters and then driving into them, striking a teenage girl. Video footage of some attacks shows drivers yelling at or threatening Black Lives Matter protesters before hitting the gas.

NYPD commish defends automotive terror

NYPD commissioner Dermot Shea, testifying in an online public hearing on the police response to the recent protests, responded to a question from New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying officers who drove their cars into demonstrators did not violate use-of-force policy. (The Hill)

Road fatalities down but ratio of deadly 'crashes' up

Overall road fatalities are down following the COVID-19 lockdowns, but the ratio of deadly "crashes" is dramatically up, as motorists apparently take empty streets as a license to speed. In New York City, the ratio of fatal crashes to all collisions rose 167% in April from a year ago. The increase was 292% in Chicago and 65% in Boston. Across the ocean, in Madrid, Spain, the rate of fatal collisions was 470% higher. (Reuters)

Protesters as 'speed bumps'

From the Des Moines Register, June 30:

The Sioux Rapids City Council voted Monday to temporarily suspend the city's police chief after he made a Facebook post appearing to call Des Moines Black Lives Matter demonstrators "road bumps."

During a June 20 protest outside a Hy-Vee store on Southeast 14th Street in Des Moines, a man drove his pickup truck through a crowd of activists. Television station KCCI posted a video of the incident on Facebook, where Sioux Rapids Police Chief Tim Porter commented in all caps "hit the gas and hang on over the road bumps."

Detroit police car ploughs into protesters

From the Detroit Metro Times, June 29:

Detroit police released videos from inside two squad cars that drove through a crowd of protesters on Sunday.

Police Chief James Craig defended his officers' actions on Monday, saying they were surrounded by potentially violent protesters."They felt a clear and present threat, and they decided to leave the location," Craig told city council members today.

Protesters said they were peaceful and only responded because a squad car drove through the crowd of marchers.

Cell phone videos of a squad car appearing to plow through a crowd of protesters set off debates on social media Monday.

Detroit City Council is investigating the officers' actions.

Seattle motorist ploughs into protesters

Two people have been hospitalized, one with life-threatening injuries, after a vehicle barreled past a police barrier and into protesters on a freeway in Seattle. Washington State Patrol said that the driver of the white Jaguar sedan, a 27-year-old man, is in custody. At this point, officers have not offered a motive, although the suspect was reportedly not impaired. (NPR)

Seattle protester struck by a car dies of wounds

A 24-year-old activist who was struck by a vehicle during a protest in Seattle early July 4 morning has died, a spokesperson for UW Medicine told CNN. Summer Taylor, the protester, was fatally injured when a man drove onto the closed Interstate 5 and into a crowd of protesters.

Another protester, 32-year-old Diaz Love, was also struck by the car and is in serious condition in intensive care at Harborview Medical Center. 

Motorist ploughs into protesters in Times Square

BoingBoing is citing reports on social media that an SUV just plowed through protesters on 42nd street in Manhattan. Injuries still being assessed.

No charge for Times Square motor-assailant

The Daily News rather too neutrally writes that "A motorist nabbed by cops for driving off after getting into a confrontation with Black Lives Matter protesters in Times Square has been released without charges."

Carless future in NY Times

Farhad Manjoo writes in a NY Times op-ed, "I've Seen a Future Without Cars, and It's Amazing."

As coronavirus lockdowns crept across the globe this winter and spring, an unusual sound fell over the world’s metropolises: the hush of streets that were suddenly, blessedly free of cars. City dwellers reported hearing bird song, wind and the rustling of leaves. (Along with, in New York City, the intermittent screams of sirens.)

You could smell the absence of cars, too. From New York to Los Angeles to New Delhi, air pollution plummeted, and the soupy, exhaust-choked haze over the world’s dirtiest cities lifted to reveal brilliant blue skies.

Cars took a break from killing people, too. About 10 pedestrians die on New York City’s streets in an ordinary month. Under lockdown, the city went a record two months without a single pedestrian fatality. In California, vehicle collisions plummeted 50 percent, reducing accidents resulting in injuries or death by about 6,000 per month.

As the roads became freer of cars, they grew full of possibility. Rollerblading and skateboarding have come back into fashion. Sales of bicycles and electric bikes have skyrocketed.

But there is a catch: Cities are beginning to cautiously open back up again, and people are wondering how they’re going to get in to work. Many are worried about the spread of the virus on public transit. Are cars our only option? How will we find space for all of them?

In much of Manhattan, the average speed of traffic before the pandemic had fallen to 7 miles per hour. In Midtown, it was less than 5 m.p.h. That’s only slightly faster than walking and slower than riding a bike. Will traffic soon be worse than ever?

Not if we choose another path.

Driver smashes through outdoor dining area in Queens

From the Queens Daily Eagle, July 7:

At least one person was removed by stretcher after a driver crashed his SUV through an outdoor seating area and into a Jackson Heights restaurant Sunday night.

Videos...show the entire white 2019 Toyota Highlander stuck inside 12 Corazones Restaurant and Bar, an Ecuadorian eatery on Roosevelt Avenue near 86th Street. The restaurant was crowded with patrons and employees when the driver crashed into the building... The driver was given a summons and released.

EMS took five people to Elmhurst Hospital for non-life threatening injuries, according to the NYPD. ABC News reported one person was in critical condition, based on information from the FDNY.

Roosevelt Avenue, a bustling commercial corridor beneath the No. 7 train tracks that marks the border between Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, is one of Queens’ most dangerous streets.

Over 60 motorist attacks on BLM protesters

From Mic.com, July 9:

At least 68 people have driven their cars into Black Lives Matter protesters since May 25. The incidents, most incited by civilians and some by police, represent an alarming trend in counter-protest violence against those marching in the streets. On foot, protesters are often defenseless against attacks by speeding vehicles; many have been injured and at least one person has died.

Data collected since late May by Ari Weil, deputy research director at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats of the University of Chicago, shows that vehicle assaults on protesters are increasingly common. According to NPR, Weil's research has found that 18 of the attacks were "deliberate," with many more still under investigation.

NYPD out of traffic enforcement

From Streetsblog, June 19:

The de Blasio administration must make an ambitious, and wholehearted, break from the past and remove the NYPD from its disproportionately large oversight of traffic enforcement in the city, to make our streets safer from crashes, but also protect people of color from the cops themselves, a new report argues.

The new report, "The Case for Self-Enforcing Streets" from Transportation Alternatives [PDF], offers a slate of recommendations — some new and some older ideas that have resurfaced, thanks to the current debate over the future of policing, specifically in public space, where "armed policing" causes "harm."

"It has become abundantly clear that the NYPD's approach to traffic safety is not working, especially for New Yorkers of color," said Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Marco Conner DiAquoi. "We know what works, and that’s street design that is always on duty, and automated enforcement technology that doesn’t discriminate. This is an inflection point, and our elected leaders have a choice: will New York become a leader in progressive, racially-just traffic safety, or will we continue with the police-dominant status quo?"

We aren't so sure about that "automated enforcement technology"...

Carnage at Floyd Bennett Field

An 11-year-old boy and two teenagers died in a car crash at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn the night of July 11, while another 17-year-old male remains in critical condition. Police believe drag-racing was involved. (Gothamist)

More automotive terror —this time in Rhode Island

A Rhode Island driver is being accused of hitting a 63-year-old man with his car after the man had confronted him about not wearing a face mask into a local convenience store. (Raw Story)

Deadly hit-and-run on Chelsea street

Detectives are looking for the van driver who struck and killed a 29-year-old woman on a Chelsea street. The incident happened at on Aug. 2 at the corner of West 23rd St. and 7th Ave. Officers from the 13th Precinct and EMS units responded to a 911 call about the collision. Upon arrival, cops found the victim unconscious and unresponsive with head and body trauma. (AMNY)

Note: "Collision" is our source's word. We submit that the better word is "assault."

Motorist ploughs into protesters in Times Square —again

The driver of a black Ford Taurus rammed into a crowd of protesters marching against police brutality in Times Square on Sept. 3, leading to multiple injuries. Police were hunting for the car. (Gothamist, Daily News)

Trafic fatalities surge in NYC

From the New York Times, Sept. 1:

9 Major N.Y.C. Roads Get Lower Speed Limits as Traffic Deaths Surge
More drivers, passengers and motorcyclists have been killed so far this year than all of last year. Reckless driving is a major factor, officials say.

When the pandemic emptied New York of its usual traffic, the city’s streets transformed into an open speedway where drivers drag raced down major roads, racked up thousands of tickets and in some cases left fatal wreckage in their wake.

At the time, city officials saw the rash of reckless driving as an aberration that would vanish when the city’s usual traffic reappeared.

But as restrictions lifted this summer and traffic crept back toward pre-pandemic levels, the spate of speeding — and fatal collisions — did not end.

Now, alarmed by the sustained rise in fatalities and bracing for the possibility of a second lockdown that could worsen the current speeding crisis, city officials are reducing speed limits by five miles per hour on nine of the most dangerous streets across the five boroughs.

No charges in Times Square automotive terror: report

A pro-Trump counterprotester who was in the car that drove through a crowd of Black Lives Matter marchers in Times Square says she and everyone else in the car spoke to detectives and were let go without charges. (Gothamist.com, CBS)

Automotive terror in Denver

At least one woman was injured Sept. 23 when a man drove into a crowd of demonstrators who had taken to the streets of Denver to protest a grand jury decision not to charge any police officers with the killing of Breonna Taylor. (Daily News)

License to kill in NYC ...again

A man died in Manhattan last week after he was hit by a car while crossing the street in Midtown, police have revealed. Upon arrival at the scene, officers found 69-year-old Richard G. Brode lying in the roadway with trauma to his head. The motorist remained on the scene, but no arrest was made. (AMNY)

Automotive terror in NYC... again

An SUV driver sped into a crowd of cyclist protesters demonstrating against police brutality in Manhattan on the evening of Oct. 3, sending two to the hospital. (Gothamist)

Cars have hit demonstrators 104 times this year

There have been at least 104 incidents of people driving vehicles into protests from May 27 through Sept. 5, including 96 by civilians and eight by police, according to Ari Weil, a researcher at the University of Chicago's Project on Security and Threats. There have been at least two fatalities, in Seattle and in Bakersfield. (USA Today, July 9)

Note: This story just came to our attention, but the figure must be considerably higher today, as several more such incidents are cited above...

Sofia Gomez: say her name

New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced that her office is investigating the death of a 20-year-old woman who was struck by a police car in the Bronx. James said her Special Investigations & Prosecutions Unit is looking into the crash that killed Sofia Gomez last week. Gomez died three days after an NYPD vehicle struck her Oct. 5 in an intersection near her home.

Police said the marked patrol car had its flashing lights and siren on as it responded to another officer's call for backup at a traffic stop on the Throgs Neck Bridge. The backup call was said to be nased on a "false report" of shots fired. (AP, WABC)

More evidence: car culture is fascist

So a MAGA "cavalry" of pick-up trucks and SUVs charged a Biden-Harris tour bus on the interstate outside Austin, trying to force it off the road, and prompting Biden to cancel his rally in the city. "I LOVE TEXAS!" Trump tweeted in response to the news. (See coverage at Daily Beast, Forbes)

Trump digs in on support for automotive terrorism

In response to the news that the FBI is investigating the Texas highway incident, Trump tweeted: "In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong. Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!" (Texas Tribune)

Further evidence: car culture is fascist

A homeless activist claims Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Robert McKinzie got behind the wheel of a pick-up truck and ran over a homeless man’s tent to force him to leave an encampment earlier this year. The alleged incident occurred in April, according to a Sept. 22 complaint that homeless advocate Jeff Weinberger sent to the Broward County Office of the Inspector General. (Sun-Sentinel)

More automotive terror in Queens

Car crashes into NYC bakery on opening day after road rage dispute
FLUSHING, Queens (WABC) -- At least four people were injured in an apparent road rage incident that ended with a car smashing through the front of a Queens bakery that was marking its grand opening Monday.

It happened just after 4 p.m. on Kissena Boulevard in Flushing, where police say two cars with two occupants each became involved in a dispute over a parking space or a vehicle.

The occupants of one car allegedly exited with a baseball bat and approached the other vehicle, at which point authorities say that driver attempted to run the two men over and instead plowed into the Rainbow Bakery.