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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Woman Bicyclist Hit By Roosevelt Island Red Bus Near Gristedes Turnaround Tonight - Taken To Hospital

Received this report about 9:30 PM from a Roosevelt Island resident:

Red bus hit a person (can't tell if pedestrian or bicyclist) just before Gristedes turn around. Road closed going north.
Kevin Deutch tweets:
Click thru the tweets for more pictures but be advised they are close ups of the scene. (pictures were removed).

According to Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC,) Public Safety Director Jack McManus a female bicycle rider was hit by the Red Bus. The woman was taken to the hospital. No further information available at this time.

UPDATE 10/9 - According to RIOC:
Last night, a collision occurred near the turnaround by Gristedes between a bicyclist and one of our Red Buses. The accident is currently being investigated by NYPD and we are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that all proper procedures are followed.

Please be advised that we have been actively working to ensure that our streets are safe for cyclists and motorists. Recently, members of RIOC's Transportation and Community Relations departments met with cycling nonprofit Bike New York to discuss road-sharing and safety education classes, both for Red Bus drivers and for cyclists in our community. Our goal is to promote a safe and progressive approach to traffic on Roosevelt Island and to maintain the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. It is important that cyclists exercise safety at all times by wearing a helmet. Drivers and cyclists are encouraged to always be aware of their surroundings at all times and to use extra caution in high-traffic areas.

We will continue to investigate this incident and will respond to the situation appropriately.
UPDATE 10/14: Received this statement from RIOC today:
Last Wednesday, October 8th, a cyclist was involved in an traffic collision with a Red Bus (a local shuttle service) near the Motorgate Garage bus turnaround on Roosevelt Island. We have been advised by the NYPD that the cyclist sustained a severe head injury and is currently hospitalized in serious condition.

Charlene M. Indelicato, President of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, states: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the cyclist and all those affected by this traumatic incident. I extend my heartfelt condolences to her family and loved ones as they undergo this difficult experience."

The New York City Police Department is currently handling this investigation.
UPDATE 10/15 - Latest here.


YetAnotherRIer said...

"Many residents have complained about it being too big for narrow island roads."

This is not the problem. The problem is that the RIOC hired some bus drivers who think this is the MTA and they are the king of the streets.

One Way Films said...

Is the driver suspended?

RooseveltIslander said...

Don't know status of driver.

Rich Chrono said...

She died yesterday

iachineddu said...

Unfortunately, our dear friend succumbed to her injuries. I hope the ROIC looks into this. I know I am going to be calling them them tomorrow. This shouldn't have happened. I agree that the roads are too small for the red bus. I also feel that some of the bus drivers feel that they are king of the streets. Roosevelt Island is touted as a great place to raise your kids, and to a degree I have to agree. But kids run around, they cross streets, they ride bikes. The system needs to be changed. I would also suggest the Octagon become involved, if they aren't already. Their shuttle leaves much to be desired.

Ratso123 said...

Is anyone at liberty to post the name of the person who was in the fatal accident.

RooseveltIslander said...

So very sad. Condolences to her family and friends.

CheshireKitty said...

Sad. Another cyclist fatality - even here on RI where there are mostly slow-moving vehicles..

Suggestion: The turnaround at Motorgate is dangerous; why not install crosswalk pavement markings at the turn-in and exit of Motorgate and also metal fencing - such as you see at some intersections in NYC - to prevent pedestrians from "jaywalking" along the turn-around (with the exception of the bus stop). This would prevent people from walking onto the turn-around/jaywalking. Also, how about stop signs at the entrance and exit - so cars/buses would need to stop before making the turn into or out of the turn-around.

I agree that the buses are too big for the roadways - especially the Motorgate turnaround where the front right corner of the bus actually protrudes over the sidewalk when the driver makes the turn. This can't be safe. Smaller, more maneuverable buses would address this issue. Either that or remove some of the plaza sidewalk and construct a wider roadway at the turnaround.

Frank Farance said...

I'm very sorry that our neighbor cyclist has died and I don't know the details.

However, the motorist-cyclist thing is a two-way street (so to speak). A couple nights ago, I almost hit the China 1 delivery guy as I was driving north by the firehouse. He had no helmet, no lights, no reflective gear, and was riding his motorized bike in my blind spot. I happened to see him, and then let him pass (which made it easier for me to track him). The delivery bikes (and others) are a real problem riding on the opposite side of the road at high speed and can easily be injured.

Like I said, I'm not accusing the cyclist nor RIOC in my complaint. My point is: we (the community) need to have a conversation about this to avoid accidents. And I've heard the the cyclist-pedestrian thing needs some discussion, too.

Not accusing, just want a safer community with fewer accidents. This accident is really upsetting.

iachineddu said...

I don't feel comfortable doing that. I think it should be up to the authorities or her family.

iachineddu said...

Thank you. She was truly a special person. People say that a lot when someone passes but in this case I can't stress it enough.

AndreasLarsson said...

Here in Sweden most of the buses are the same size as the red bus and we have the same narrow streets. Here the combination is not an issue. But as always you have to stay focused when you are driving in the city...

RooseveltIslander said...

A Swedish web site has more on the tragic bicycle accident with the Red Bus. Here's link to a Google translation of the article.

According to the NYPD, after hitting the Red Bus, the 29 year old bicyclist fell and hit her head on the pavement. She was not wearing a bike helmet.

YetAnotherRIer said...

The New York Post and Daily News reported on this. She was a model from Sweden.

"Us and Them" said...

Wow, this is incredibly sad. I can't believe this happened on the Isalnd. I am so sorry this happened.

Islanderx2 said...

Frank has made some excellent points. Many of the cyclists on the Island and in most parts of the City do not follow the rules of the road, as they pertain to them. They not only endanger themselves, but also pedestrians and the grief caused to the drivers that will do them bodily harm. The motorized/electric bikes legality on the streets of NYC are something else that has to be considered. They are a menace to drivers and pedestrians, speeding and passing vehicles on the right and the left. Definitely it is time that the community addresses the cycling issue, one death is too many.

Janet Falk said...

The street lighting in that area of Main Street is very poor. Did the bicyclist have a light and reflective tape on her clothing and bike?

On the other hand, after stopping at the Manhattan Park stop sign across from Gristede's, the driver could not have been going very fast to travel the distance and take the left turn.

CheshireKitty said...

So very tragic.

Helmets for adults are not required by law in NYC or NYS, although they are required for children younger than age 13 and 14 respectively (i.e. 13 under City law, 14 under State law)

Is there any way to find out what happened? Was she hit by the bus as it was making the left into Motorgate turnaround? Traffic does not travel at great speed on RI - it's so sad that this cyclist was hit nonetheless, or possibly ran into the bus (?).

CheshireKitty said...

Janet - I agree. There are so many stop signs the buses never really pick up much speed. I wonder what happened.

CheshireKitty said...

I do not think safe bike paths/lanes have been implemented, The City is trying to enforce traffic laws - which cyclists are supposed to follow - just like cars. The third part of the equation is pedestrians - they contribute to street chaos; sometimes a driver will swerve to avoid a pedestrian but may then either hit another car, or a cyclist, or another pedestrian. The speed limit should be lowered - and possibly a pedestrian education program implemented, highlighting the dangers of crossing the street. Drivers too could be educated in the dangers of texting while driving or otherwise not paying attention while driving. Very often drivers hit pedestrians or cyclists that are in their blind spots. There should be extended greens for pedestrians to cross, while vehicular traffic is held up awaiting a green signal, so that pedestrians can cross without competing with cars making lefts. This is one possible approach to the problem.

APS said...

Update... woman still in intensive care.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Very few bicyclists are a "menace to drivers and pedestrians." Yes, they are annoying at times but here in RI I still have to encounter a bicyclist that is riding down the street recklessly. It annoys me, for example, that too many bicyclists are going against traffic in South Town, but they don't endanger anybody but themselves.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Too many bicyclists think they can behave like pedestrians. Which is fair enough but maybe we should all (pedestrians, bicyclists, and car drivers) rethink how we behave in the streets.

OldRossie said...

Seems someone should be working on this. More of a life and death issue than, say, central park horses.

Most times, as a pedestrian, I actually feel safer around cars than I do around bikes. You know where a car is going, what rules they're likely (and unlikely) to follow, when to look out for them. You never know if a biker even knows the rules, let alone intends to follow them... several times I've seen them come flying around a corner on the sidewalk and close to people.

I would like the freedom to ride a bike around the city, and think they should be allowed, but I can't imagine how you enforce the rules, and it seems hard to accept these kinds of things are just going to happen now and again...

Ratso123 said...

I think that this Blog should clarify the condition of the young lady involved in the accident with the bus. There seems to be a conflict in the reporting.

RooseveltIslander said...

I just spoke with NYPD about the apparent conflicting reporting on her condition. According to the NYPD Press office "critical condition" and "brain dead" have the same meaning.

Olya Turcihin said...

I am so very sad about what happened to this wonderful young lady ... she is/was an extremely special person - she will be missed. I send my condolences to her family.

Peter said...

Frankly the the story about the delivery guy is a red herring. It seems clear that the accident victim was on the correct side of the road, going in the right direction and had the right of way. What is difficult to understand about that. Whether she was using lights is another question which no-one seems to have the answer to.

YetAnotherRIer said...

We do not know, if a) she was intoxicated or b) she rode into the bus while it was making a turn, i.e. she may have been distracted. We also do not know, if a) the bus driver did not watch out for traffic when he started the turn, or b) was in other ways distracted and was less cautious. Too many unknowns to understand what exactly happened and who is at fault. At this point of time it is safe to say that probably both parties were partially at fault.

YetAnotherRIer said...

As the coverage said. For some reason she rode into the bus, fell off, and damaged her head in the ground.

Peter said...
If the description of the accident in this link is correct, she had the right to be in the place where she was at the time. There is a lot of blaming the victim going on here.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Of course she had the right to be in the place she was but we still do not know if she actually paid any attention or not. Listen, I am a bicyclist, but I do not blindly blame the bad, bad car drivers for everything that could happen to you when you use the bicycle.

Also, I did not blame the victim only. I am blaming both parties because that is usually the case.

Streetblogs is a pro-bicycle site, by the way.

CheshireKitty said...

A possible scenario of what happened: The bus was about to make the left and the bike was coming along going north - possibly just coming off the ramp possibly having picked up quite a bit of speed in doing so. It was therefore making a right onto Main St. The bus did not yield - but sometimes, buses do not yield because they know cars will yield to them whether or not they have the right of way since cars will especially wish to avoid a car-bus collision and the same would be the case, even more so, with a bike & a bus approaching an intersection at the same time (i.e. a bus wishes to make a left, oncoming traffic, in this case the bike, has the right of way; bus must wait for a pause in the traffic to turn, but may not honor the right of way rule because it's a bus, or may become impatient and start turning anyway figuring the cars will slow down to avoid hitting the bus).

Or, the bus didn't see the bike coming in time, which then crashed into the bus just as it was making the left into the turnaround. Maybe that's how the bike could have hit the bus, if the driver did not see the bike coming. The driver might have been focused on making the tricky left, and not had his eyes on traffic coming off the ramp. Also, traffic coming off the ramp is supposed to stop at a large stop sign at the foot of the ramp. Sometimes drivers do not fully stop at this sign, and cyclists many times do not observe stop signs or red lights - and given the usual lack of traffic on RI might have a tendency to "ignore" that stop sign.

Of course, we don't know if any of the above is the case. I am simply assuming she was coming off the ramp if she was returning home, as opposed to riding north up Main St. She could have also been riding up Main St having gotten back to RI on mass transit with her bike (train/tram) but that is less likely as cyclists usually use the streets rather the train or tram. If she was coming off the ramp and had picked up speed, she might have thought she could "out-run" the bus - but figured wrong. That is another possibility to explain how she could have collided with it.

One thing RIOC may want to consider is not having bikes and cars share the helix ramp with cars. However, that would mean cyclists would need to either use the rather cramped Motorgate elevators or carry their bikes down the (also rather cramped) stairs in the building.

Another solution is to repair the escalators and upgrade them to multi-use escalators. Or, as the W. Queens Transportation Study recommends, a dedicated bike-only ramp could be added from the bridge exit to the promenade.

Frank Farance said...

Two suggestions: (1) better lighting at crosswalks, and (2) a traffic light at the bottom of the helix. I've complained to RIOC/PSD about lighting at crosswalks. Part of the problem is that pedestrians/ cyclists and motorists have a very different sense of visibility of pedestrians/ cyclists.

How many times, as a pedestrian or cyclists, have you been perfectly confident of your visibility, and discover you're not seen by cars? As a driver, with lots of high-beams and halogen lights (which I believe should be eliminated because they are a safety hazard for other motorists), one's motion, edge, and contrast detection is worse than a slow moving pedestrian/cyclists.

Here's a simple test: get in your car in the evening (well past sunset) and drive north on Main Street past Eastwood (very dark at 510 crossing), and towards Motorgate (Gristede's crossing is really dark). The pink sodium lights make it harder to see (duh, because they wash out other colors that improve visibility). I've seen directional lights over pedestrian crossings elsewhere that help improve visibility, we should use them here in our crosswalks.

Also, it's been a long long struggle against RIOC/PSD to get a traffic light at the bottom of the helix ramp. The residents have continuously and uniformly supported a traffic light at the intersection. RIOC and Keith Guerra have constantly opposed this with foot-dragging (need to have DOT studies, blah blah blah, and more excuses).

The RIRA Planning Committee will take this up shortly, I'll post meeting info soon.

Frank Farance said...

CK: You're right that the cyclist might not have stopped northbound, but they aren't required to stop because the intersection is configured poorly, e.g., southbound or westbound traffic expects the northbound to stop (because southbound and westbound traffic both have Stop signs), but it does not and is not required to stop because it has a Yield sign. It's a confusing configuration, and should be an all-way stop, not just 2 of the three legs.

Regarding your other points: if the bus driver is feeling cranky and doesn't want to follow the traffic rules, then he/she stop driving immediately. For example, if some driver is thinking

Helen> "... but sometimes, buses do not yield because they know cars will yield to
them whether or not they have the right of way since cars will
especially wish to avoid a car-bus collision and the same would be the
case, even more so, with a bike & a bus approaching an intersection
at the same time (i.e. a bus wishes to make a left, oncoming traffic, in
this case the bike, has the right of way; bus must wait for a pause in
the traffic to turn, but may not honor the right of way rule because
it's a bus, or may become impatient and start turning anyway figuring
the cars will slow down to avoid hitting the bus)."

then that driver should stop driving immediately.

Peter said...

True, she could have come off the ramp. I don't know, but coming off the ramp at the end of the working day, as I did often when I lived there, there was more traffic there than on a (usually extremely quiet) Sunday night. But to come off at speed and turn right, that would have needed a fairly wide swerve across the Main Street. I found the ramp dangerous to an extreme, for cars and cyclists (and I could observe it from my then apartment) - I don't know if one would want to attempt it at any kind of speed, being unable to see what was coming from the other direction. I guess we'll never know what happened.

CheshireKitty said...

I agree - we'll never know what happened. Others have noted that the area is not well-lit; that's another factor to consider. Maybe the cyclist thought the bus would yield to her, and didn't stop. Maybe the bus didn't see her, and he didn't stop.

There is a stop sign at the foot of the ramp, so the motorist/cyclist, after coming to a full stop, then proceeds when it's safe. I rarely see cyclists stopping at this stop sing. But, as you say, traffic is almost non-existent, especially on a quiet night (the accident occurred last Wednesday night, actually) after rush hour. Did she not see the bus turning?

I also agree that the ramp is dangerous as there is no way to see the vehicles coming up ahead. A large vehicle - such a truck, almost seems to stick out into the opposite lane when it is spiraling up the ramp, which can be frightening to the motorist going in the other direction. Add in a cyclist - it's a recipe for disaster. Probably, cyclists should not be allowed on the ramp, considering how potentially tricky it is for drivers as it is. Drivers cannot see them coming up, and may swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting them. Maybe RIOC should make the ramp cars only. It's a shame because the escalators at Motorgate have been down for many years - if they were repaired and converted to multi-use escalators, then cyclists might use those (in addition to the elevators/stairs) to get to the bridge level.

CheshireKitty said...

This may sound insensitive considering the tragedy, but was a alcohol/toxicology test done on both the cyclist and the driver?

Frank Farance said...

CK: Yes, your statements are insensitive. Parents have lost a child, an unimaginable horror, I know having watched my parents suffer. The NYPD accident team knows how to investigate these things, the driver was tested, and the victim was surely tested when she was hospitalized.

Your comments/speculation do nothing to help the investigation, and just make it more painful for the family.

CheshireKitty said...

The driver and the victim were tested? You're certain of that?

I'm not trying to insinuate that either of them was impaired - just trying to figure out what might have caused one or the other - or, possibly both - to not see the other, or not yield. You call a bus drivers who do not yield "cranky" - others say they drive like they own the road. Cyclists too can occasionally speed or drive recklessly. If that sort of driver or cyclist had also had a drink or a toke, the stage is set for disaster.

I'm certainly sorry you lost a sibling - obviously, you must have suffered as much as your parents did. But, is your loss really relevant to the discussion? A loss of a family member is always tragic. Of course families suffer when a member of the family is taken from them in such a tragic fashion. With all due respect, though, on this thread, however, we're trying to figure out how this accident could have happened, on a street where there is often virtually no traffic.

Try to be a little detached, if possible, Frank. The topic of the discussion is how and why the bus driver and the cyclist could have collided, on a quiet street with virtually no other traffic around, and not even that much foot traffic. The question is, were either impaired? I simply asked if both were tested afterwards. You are stating that both were - evidently you know that information as a fact. Thank you: According to what you have said, both were tested, and both tested negative. Right?

Clearly, the bus driver was not going at great speed, and even if the cyclist had picked up speed coming down the ramp, it's hard to believe she couldn't have avoided hitting the bus. We now know neither was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Thus, we can only say, once again, we'll probably never know what happened.

CheshireKitty said...

Pedestrians, cyclists, and cars are constantly *not* driving, walking, or cycling according to standard rules. We all know that.

Cars are never supposed to hit a pedestrian, and the same applies to bikes - whether or not the pedestrian is jaywalking or even crossing against the light. And yet, cars hit pedestrians and cyclists with regularity. A pedestrian or a cyclist therefore must assume the worst with regard drivers, and navigate streets accordingly. Ditto responsible drivers: Defensive driving = survival.

Thus , all drivers and cyclists should drive defensively, assume that the other driver or cyclist is a jerk who will not operate their vehicle in a standard fashion. Because the other driver often won't - often drivers will not use directional signals, and probably 100% of the time cyclists do not signal turns/stops either. Of course pedestrians are notorious for crossing the street anywhere in addition to crosswalks, and anytime, not just at the green signal.

The only thing a responsible driver or cyclist can do is yield, whether or not he has the right of way, if that is what it takes to avoid a collision with another car, pedestrian, or cyclist. Yield, or stop, and wave the other driver, cyclist, or pedestrian through - make it absolutely clear you are yielding to the other user of the road even if you have the right of way. This is the only to be certain of avoiding a collision, because it's a fact that many drivers are not going to drive in a standard fashion (observe the rule of right-of-way), ditto for pedestrians and cyclists. Since the streets are chaotic, the only way to deal with chaos is to build in time for an extra margin of safety. You can yield, and wave the others through, and then you can turn or proceed through the intersection.

This is exactly the problem with the cyclist on Main St. We can say she had the right of way, since she was going straight ahead and the bus driver was making the left. However, drivers, as I've stated above, do not drive in a standard fashion. They will turn, they will cut you off, they will change lanes without signaling, they will pass on the right, they will occasionally even drive through reds. We've all seen it - it's deplorable but it happens. So the cyclist would have been wise to assume the worst from the bus driver; he was not going to yield even though he should have. And, according to the police report, he didn't. Thus, the standard rules such as right-of-way although they are supposed to apply unfortunately do not always apply on the road; the reality (chaos) is exactly the opposite (standard rules).

The one rule to remember, is the rule of defensive driving, which can be extended to defensive cycling: Assume the other guy is a jerk, who is going to operate their vehicle or bike in an unsafe fashion. Leave extra car lengths, take a little longer to get to where you're going. You be the one to yield, even if you have the right of way. Isn't your life worth it?

CheshireKitty said...

Great points, Frank. Agree on better lighting at crosswalks, and RIOC needs to get DOT to do the study for the traffic light, or whatever it takes to have one installed.

CheshireKitty said...

Yet: According to Frank, each party was tested afterwards and neither was intoxicated. It's another question if either was distracted. Even cyclists can text while cycling BTW, not just drivers - that is they can bicycle hands-free on occasion. Not saying the cyclist was doing this at the time of the accident, but the same distractions that can result in MVAs, also can apply to cyclists (distracted cycling).

Either she struck the bus or the bus struck her - it's not clear exactly what did happen. We do know she collided with the driver's side bumper. She also could have swerved to avoid getting run over by the bus, lost control of her bike, and crashed. There are a number of scenarios possible. Clearly though, the police report is correct: Failure to yield on the part of the driver, whether or not she had the right of way (which she did) or was biking in a distracted manner, or whatever. I'm not totally exonerating the cyclist as we don't know exactly what happened (and probably never will know) but the driver, in car-bike collisions, has to be considered usually at fault, considering the differential between the cyclist and the driver. The cyclist may suffer extreme damage or even death in a crash. The driver - almost nothing will happen to them in case of such a collision. The driver must take every caution when they see a bicyclist - allow space between their vehicle and the bike. Thus, I have to say the police report must be right insofar as a possible explanation of what happened: The driver didn't pause to let her go by (failure to yield). He must have assumed she would stop. She may have assumed he would stop. Neither stopped, and so unfortunately, there was a crash. It is a very sad outcome that could have been avoided - as Frank has written elsewhere - if the intersection was signalized, or there was better signage, and better lighting. Very sad.

YetAnotherRIer said...

My point was, that I didn't read the latest findings and didn't have enough info to point the finger clearly at anybody involved. Now with more information available it does look like it was mostly the driver's fault.

Frank Farance said...

RIRA Planning Committee meeting 8PM October 22 @ 555 Main Community Room to discuss pedestrian-bike-car safety, and Western Queens transportation planning report. We'll take the safety issue first, including brainstorming on safety improvements. All are welcome to attend. Thanks, in advance, for your input.

Frank Farance
RIRA Planning Committee Chair

mushr00m said...


Mickgirl said...

What does the Octagon or their shuttle have anything to do with this discussion? SMH