Surviving a Walk in NYC Should Not Depend on Luck

As far as Bill de Blasio's NYPD and TLC are concerned, this never happened. Image: CBS 2
As far as Bill de Blasio’s NYPD and TLC are concerned, this never happened. Image: CBS 2

The Taxi and Limousine Commission says it doesn’t know anything about a cabbie who drove onto a Midtown sidewalk, hit a pedestrian, and crashed into a building earlier this week. Other than to deflect blame from the driver, NYPD has refused to release information about the crash.

It happened Monday morning. From the Post:

“He [the pedestrian] was literally flying. He fell right here in front of this window,” said Elsa Gomez, 28, who works in Macaron Cafe on East 59th Street near Madison Avenue.

The cab careened onto the sidewalk at around 11:50 a.m. and continued into the front of an eyeglass store, shattering its window.

“It was a huge, scary noise,” said James Escobar, 50, owner of Page and Smith Opticians.

“We were working inside … and we heard a big, huge boom,” Escobar told CBS 2. “I couldn’t even open the door.”

The pedestrian was hospitalized with a leg injury, reports said. “We were lucky,” said Escobar.

NYPD declined to release information about the cab driver or the victim to the press, other than the normal exculpatory statements about the driver. Police told CBS 2 “the cabbie somehow lost control of his vehicle,” and the Post reported that “his license was valid and there were no signs of criminality.”

When I called the department’s public information office, I was told to send an email request. This is NYPD’s polite way of saying “Go away.” I have emailed NYPD many times in seven-plus years at Streetsblog, and have never received a response. We’ll update if we hear back.

I also emailed TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg to ask if the driver’s hack license was suspended. Fromberg replied that he had “nothing” on the crash. I emailed back to ask how the TLC could have no information about a crash involving a TLC-licensed driver. Fromberg didn’t answer.

Unless the pedestrian was critically injured, this crash would not trigger Cooper’s Law, which — depending on whether NYPD files charges — allows the TLC to take action against the hack license of cab drivers who cause critical injury or death while breaking traffic laws. But waiting until a reckless driver kills or disfigures someone to get him off the streets is antithetical to Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative. Everything about this crash, from the incident itself to “no criminality suspected” and the information blackout, harkens to the Ray Kelly era. Under Vision Zero, the safety of New Yorkers on city streets should no longer depend on luck.

About 48 hours after the Monday crash, a man drove a box truck through a bagel shop in Forest Hills, injuring as many as six people, including an infant. Hours later NYPD said no criminality was suspected.

“When the truck finally came to rest, half of it was inside of the busy store,” reported the Daily News, “and it was a wonder that no one was killed.”