A 25 year old bicyclist was fatally struck by a hit and run truck driver in NYC. Aurilla Lawrence was fatally hit by a gas tanker truck near the intersection of Broadway and Rodney Street in Williamsburg last Thursday night around 11:30 pm. The driver fled the scene of the accident and so far is still at large. Lawrence was a beloved member of the bike messengers community who nicknamed her “Aurilla Gorilla”.
Last Sunday around 200 bike messengers and street safety advocates organized a memorial ride on the streets of New York to commemorate the victim. Bicyclists met at Lenox Avenue in Harlem and rode their bikes South on Fifth Avenue toward Union Square. The Union Square Park is an area where Lawrence used to hang with fellow bike messengers in between deliveries. As a tribute to her, the bike-a-thon made a stop at the park and participants raised their bikes to her memory.
Then the 200 cyclists continued their way toward Brooklyn. They crossed the Williamsburg bridge to ultimately arrive at the location of the accident where a ghost bike and a makeshift memorial were installed. The participants gathered around the memorial and paid tribute to their beloved co-worker.
19 people died in 167,686 NYC motor vehicle accidents in January 2019 . More than half of the fatalities were pedestrians. 3 of the fatalities were cyclists, 3 were passengers and 3 others died behind the wheel. This number compared to 20 fatalities in December and respectively 11, 18, 17, 13, 21 and 28 in January 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013. This is the highest amount of traffic deaths for a month of January in 5 years. (click on graphs for full size view)
For the third consecutive years NYC auto accident injuries in January stayed above 4,000. 4,347 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents in New York City in January compared to 5,361 in December 2017 and respectively 4,351, 4,383, 3,624, 3,449, 3,899 and 3,993 in January 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.
Pedestrian fatalities increased by more than 40% in January 2019 compared to January 2018. However the number of pedestrian fatalities was still half what it was before Vision Zero started. 10 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in New York City in January 2019 compared to 7 in January 2018 and 20 in January 2013. A month before in December 2018, 16 pedestrian died in traffic fatalities. The period covering October November December and January is the most dangerous for pedestrians because the sun goes down a little bit after 4 pm and pedestrians become less visible by motorists during the rush hours. The city is running preventive campaigns to raise awareness about this problem. It looks like the campaign was more effective last year than this year as monthly pedestrian injuries never went above 10 during the entire period of October November December and January. This year, except for October monthly pedestrian fatalities were back above 10 during the fall and winter months.
4 people were injured in an accident caused by a New York City Sanitation truck in Queens on Saturday night. The truck was driving West on the Belt Parkway near Merrick Boulevard when it overturned. During the crash, the compactor of the truck detached and landed on the top of two other cars, destroying them. 4 people were injured including the driver of the truck who was badly bleeding. According to witnesses he was covered in blood. Another victim was seriously injured and 2 others only suffered minor injuries. All four of them were transported to the hospital to be treated. The police are still investigating the accident.
Private garbage trucks are among the most dangerous vehicles in New York City. 5 people died and 73 were seriously injured in commercial waste truck accidents in NYC over the last two years (2017 and 2018).
After years of complaints by street safety advocates, the NYC Department of Sanitation finally released a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for its Commercial Waste Zones plan. This plan is the blueprint to reform the dangerous waste hauling system in New York City.
The actual system allows for 90 different private garbage truck companies to service 100,000 businesses anywhere in the city. As a result, garbage truck drivers and trash collectors are assigned long routes that they have to service each night. Trash collection is one of the most dangerous jobs in America. In New York City a commercial trash worker can pick up to 30 tones of commercial waste during the course of a daily shift that can last for up to 16 hours. It is also common knowledge that some of them s are exploited and make between $40 and $80 a night while their unionized colleagues can make up to $100,000 a year.
NYC Motor vehicle accidents injuries reached a record high in 2018. 1,083 pedestrians, 4,281 cyclists, 18,687 passengers and 26,843 motorists suffered personal injury in a crash in New York City in 2018. 60,646 people were injured in NYC traffic accidents in 2018 compared to 58,990 in 2017 and 54,818 in 2013. Over the last five years the number of traffic injuries increased by more than 10%. The main reason for this increase are motorists injured in auto accidents often related to distracted driving. Distracted driving is the number one cause of crashes in New York.
The total number of traffic fatalities in New York City in 2018 was below 200 for the first time since Vision Zero was implemented. 112 pedestrians, 70 motorists, 9 cyclists and 8 passengers were killed in traffic accidents in the city in 2018. Annual traffic fatalities declined by more than 30% since 2013.
The total number of crashes in the city has been culminating above 227,000 for the last 3 years with a record 227,924 accidents in 2018. Driver inattention is the primary cause of accidents followed by driver following too closely. Backing unsafely and changing lanes unsafely are two other common causes of accidents in the city. Since 2013 auto accidents increased by 12%.
A pedestrian was fatally struck by a pick up truck in New York City last Friday around 5 pm. 51 year old Jose Rubi was crossing Maspeth Avenue in Bushwick when he was hit by a 46 year old man driving a 2015 Ford pick up. The driver stayed at the scene of the accident and wasn’t charged. According to the police, the driver was attempting to make a left turn onto Vandervoort Ave when he struck Rubi. He told the police that he didn’t see the victim.
The police blamed the victim for crossing “mid block”. However it is unclear how the police could determine that the pedestrian was crossing mid-block while the driver testified that that the accident occurred as he was making a left turn at the intersection.
After the accident, the pedestrian was rushed to a nearby hospital but he didn’t survive his injuries.
10 motorists and 7 pedestrians died in NYC traffic accidents in October. No fatalities were recorded among cyclists and vehicle passengers. Truck accidents reached a record high while bus accidents were unusually low for October. Motorcycle accidents started to decline compared to the summer months as the temperature drops and bikers keep their motorcycle in the garage.
The total number of monthly traffic deaths continues to decline despite a rise in the total number of monthly accidents in the city. Traffic injuries continue to rise as well.
Over the last five years while Vision Zero initiatives focused mostly on making the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, distracted driving has led to a significant increase in accidents injuries and fatalities.
After two people were killed by Sanitation Salvage garbage trucks and ProPublica released an in depth look at the company’s dirty business (see previous blog) the trash hauler came under intense scrutiny.
At the end of last month, Sanitation Salvage sent a letter to the Business Integrity Commission to announce that it had surrendered its license and was going out of business.
After years of exploiting workers and endangering New Yorkers, the company run by the ruthless and heavily politically connected Squitieri Brothers is finally going down. Street safety advocates, labor unions and elected officials are all celebrating the news.
Over the last two years private garbage trucks killed 5 people and were involved in 73 serious crashes. Reckless drivers behind the wheel of unsafe trucks traveling long routes for extended hours are a danger for New York City residents without counting the resulting toxic emissions in the air. A recent study by New York Comptroller Scott Stringer looks at the weaknesses of the actual system and advocates for a new waste system prioritizing safety and sustainability.
Race to the bottom dynamic
While residential waste in New York City is collected by the City’s Department of Sanitation, 3 million tons of commercial waste coming from more than 100,000 New York businesses from restaurants to hospitals are collected by private trash hauling companies. There is little oversight of the private companies and each business owner in New York City is free to pick any of the 273 private companies available in the city based on prices, reliability and the ability of the hauler to remove the type of trash generated by the business. As a result the same block can be visited by multiple garbage trucks during the same nights. A previous investigation by the Investigative Fund and ProPublica found that a stretch of five blocks in Manhattan was visited every night by 27 different garbage truck companies. Because each private truck hauler can pick up for clients all over the five boroughs of New York City, their trucks drivers are assigned incredibly long routes to visit all businesses. Obviously the competition is fierce and companies are forced to propose low prices to their clients to stay in the business. As a result the margins are low for most trash haulers. Truck fleets are old and many trucks are unsafe and truck drivers and helpers are poorly paid for performing long routes in limited time. Additionally while travelling every year 23 million miles in New York City which is 96 times the distance from the hearth to the moon private garbage trucks are a major contributor of airborne pollution.