Wednesday’s Headlines: Finger-Pointing Edition
The big story yesterday was the road death of delivery worker Salvador Navarette-Flores as he headed home to the Bronx on First Avenue after a long day.
Several outlets covered the death (amNY, Patch), but none had the depth of our story, which pointed out a central contributing factor in the death: Relentless law-breaking by exploited people who are given no other choice but to violate safety rules in order to make a living for themselves and their corporate overlords.
Navarette-Flores died because a delivery truck driver believed to be working for Fresh Direct needed to use the westernmost travel lane of First Avenue to unload merchandise and then use the bike lane as a staging area. And, according to the Department of Transportation, this is all legal — as long as the deliveries are deemed “expeditious.”
Problem is? They’re not.
Of course, truck drivers have an impossible job in this city — but mostly because the city provides them with far too few loading zones in residential neighborhoods because many community boards — hell, let’s call them what they are: car owner protection committees — object if the DOT repurposes even a few curbside spaces from free private car storage to truck staging areas.
The driver whose illegally parked truck led to Navarette-Flores’s death was not summonsed for using the travel lane as a loading zone. And neighborhood residents are angry because they know that Fresh Direct treats the corner of First Avenue and 76th Street as its own personal al fresco distribution center.
“I get these guys are doing their super-hard jobs and there is nowhere to park, but I can confirm that those trucks arrive at 76th and First each morning between 5:45 and 6 a.m.,” Streetsblog reader Jennifer Robinson wrote me yesterday. “The steel lift slams on the street , like an explosion, followed by the steel trollies being tossed on the concrete. Ear splitting. Then the bang bang BOOM SLAM BANG of the plastic crates. Trucks come in to reinforce the first one — sometimes two are there sometimes they switch off. Sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, 363 days a year. No break. No joke. … There is nothing ‘expeditious’ about the operation. It is a full-time distribution center. Period.”
What is to be done: Repurpose public space for the best public good: safe truck deliveries, speedy bus service, more sustainable modes of transportation. The storage of privately owned cars isn’t even on that list.
Meanwhile, the Workers Justice Project and Los Deliveristas Unidos will hold a vigil for Navarette-Flores at the crash scene on First Avenue near 76th Street at 5 p.m. on Wednesday (see below). To donate to a fund for his funeral, click here.
Chavita was part of the movement!
— Workers Justice ?? (@workersjusticep) December 15, 2021
In other news:
We have a new police commissioner! And the first female commish ever! Meet Keechant Sewell, the current chief of detectives for the Nassau County Police Department! (NYDN, Post x 2, NY Times, Gothamist)
- Speaking of Chief Sewell, one of the first things she could consider doing is punishing cops who are accused of misconduct (a new NYCLU study shows that only 1 percent of accused cops face any punishment, the Daily News reported).
- Great tabloid minds think alike? Our old man editor has been ignored by the mayor at his now-twice-weekly press conferences for six sessions running — and all he wanted to do was ask Hizzoner about the terrible bus service over which he’s presided these last eight years. Well, Guse of the Newsuh got his denial quote from the City Hall press office instead, and did the story first.
- Everyone is doing boring horserace stories about the Council Speaker race (QNS, Gothamist), but our own Julianne Cuba broke some huge news about Francisco Moya’s recklessness near schools.
- Speaking of Gothamist, what’s with the once-great digital tabloid? Yet again, it followed a Streetsblog exclusive — this time on Citi Bike’s bid to get public subsidies to electrify its docks — but didn’t even give us a hyperlink hat-tip. Not nice!
- Jose Martinez of The City did a deep dive into why the MTA’s OMNY pay system ain’t so great.
- The MTA announced it will expand its Jamaica bus depot and upgrade it so that it can service a fully electric fleet, though the work won’t be done until 2027 and the entire fleet won’t be electrified until 2040. (amNY)
- Vulnerable users of our city streets dodged a bullet when the Department of Education decided against getting rid of geographic preferences for high schools, meaning that some students can still attend classes in their neighborhoods, reducing commutes and car use. (NYDN, Chalkbeat, NY Post)
- Speaking of vulnerable road users, the Daily News did the full heats and flowers tribute to killed pedestrian Helena Conti.
- And, finally, as always during December, we’ll start with a reminder of our annual month-long donation drive, which helps us keep the lights on, pay our hard-working staffers and have a little left over for coffee. Here’s a reminder of what your donations pay for, and here’s today’s tribute to yesterday’s benefactors: Thanks, Darcy! Thanks, Pedro! Thanks, Kenneth! Thanks, Trudy! Thanks, Ian!