Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Monday, July 10, 2006

City to Bike Riders: Drop Dead

If the following story were an episode of Law and Order, I'd think it was a little heavy-handed with the symbolism (a big, black SUV? C'mon). But, unfortunately, it's real life.

Last year, a 14-year-old cyclist named Andre Anderson was run down near the beach in Rockaway, Brooklyn, by a Lincoln Navigator SUV. It's not clear if the driver was driving recklessly (perhaps on his way to party at the beach?) or if this was really just a case of a poorly designed intersection. According to Gideon Oliver, the lawyer for Andre's family, "there are no traffic control devices or stop signs on the section of Shore Front Parkway where Andre was riding, and Shore Front Parkway is a beach access street that becomes quite crowded with pedestrians and cars during the spring, summer and early fall months. ... Prior to Andres death, local elected officials and other members of the community had been campaigning for the installation of traffic lights along a 20-block stretch of Shore Front Parkway including the location at which Andre was killed." The SUV driver did not get as much as a traffic summons.


Andre's Bike

Residents erected a small memorial (a ghost bike attached to a sign at the intersection where he died) in Andre's honor, in part as a plea to install some safety measures in the area. And now the NYPD has torn down the memorial.

Bloomberg's NYPD is really waging war against cyclists in New York. First Critical Massers were singled out with overenthusiastic arrests and prosecution, now this kid's memorial is torn down because it's viewed as too political (or maybe not -- it's impossible to judge the City's logic, since they have remained silent about their motives).

After the jump is the full text of the letter from the lawyer (who also represented Critical Mass in their recent legal brouhaha).


July 10, 2006

VIA FACSIMILE TO (718) 391-2709

Ms. Maura McCarthy
Queens Borough Commissioner
New York City Department of Transportation
30-30 Thomson Avenue, 5th Floor North
Long Island City, New York 11101

Re: The Removal of the Memorial Recognizing Andre Andersons Death

Dear Commissioner McCarthy:

As you know, while riding his bicycle on Shore Front Parkway near Beach 77 Street on September 24, 2005, 14-year-old Andre Anderson was killed when Mr. Jose Vicens struck Andre from behind with his black Lincoln Navigator Sports Utility Vehicle. Despite strong evidence that Mr. Vicenss reckless driving was the principal cause of the crash that killed Andre, neither the New York City Police Department (NYPD) nor the Office of the District Attorney of Queens County has conducted a substantive investigation of the incident. Indeed, Mr. Vicens has never been served so much as a traffic summons.

I represent Audrey Anderson, Andres mother, in connection with making the below-described requests.

In terms of general background, I understand that there are no traffic control devices or stop signs on the section of Shore Front Parkway where Andre was riding, and that Shore Front Parkway is a beach access street that becomes quite crowded with pedestrians and cars during the spring, summer and early fall months. I understand that, prior to Andres death, local elected officials and other members of the community had been campaigning for the installation of traffic lights along a 20-block stretch of Shore Front Parkway including the location at which Andre was killed .

I have been informed that, earlier this year, a number of members of the community, including members of Andres family, placed a small, white ghost bicycle, along with a small sign bearing the words Andre Anderson, 14 years old, killed by SUV, Sept. 24, 2005, rest in peace on a metal pole in an area of the median near where Andre was run down. As the following photograph indicates, the memorial is not placed in a manner that would interfere with vehicular or pedestrian traffic:


The following photograph of Andres stricken bicycle ran on the front page of the September 30, 2005 edition of The Wave:



The ghost bike and plaque are a memorial to Andre. I understand that on July 6, 2006 you had a conversation with Andres mother during which you informed her that members of the NYPDs 100th Precinct would remove the memorial.

I am sure you will agree that bicycle safety in New York City is a matter of great public concern, and that the majority of car drivers who kill bicyclists on the Citys streets claim not to have seen them. For bicyclists, and with respect to bicycle safety, to be seen is a matter of life and death. It should be beyond cavil that the memorial to Andre constitutes activity protected by the First Amendment and speech on a matter of great public concern and its proposed removal implicates Andres mothers constitutional rights.

I have heard conflicting reports as to the Citys rationale for removing the memorial. I understand that you informed one person that the memorial is illegally attached to a City street sign. I have also heard both that a redesign of the street and/or the signage on the street is imminent and that no street or signage redesign are in the works, but the DOT has received complaints about the memorial.

Accordingly, this is to request clarification from you as to why the DOT plans to have the NYPD remove the memorial, and pursuant to what purported legal authority the plans are proceeding. Alternatively, please indicate simply that you intend to respect the wishes of the family and the community by leaving the memorial where it belongs.

This is also to request copies of records from your agency as set forth more fully below pursuant to Article 6 §§ 84-90 of the New York State Public Officers Law (FOIL). If there are any fees for copying the records I am requesting, please supply those records without informing me if said fees do not exceed $100.00. I hereby request that your agency provide me with an opportunity to review and/or copies of any and all records or portions thereof that were prepared, received, transmitted, collected and/or maintained by your agency regarding (1) the memorial to Andre Anderson and (2) the placement of traffic safety signals along Shore Front Parkway, including, but not limited to, any and all of the following:

1. Records regarding Andre Anderson and/or his death;
2. Records regarding Audrey Anderson;
3. Records regarding complaints about the memorial;
4. Records regarding the placement of the memorial;
5. Records regarding the maintenance of the memorial;
6. Records regarding the proposed removal of the memorial;
7. Records regarding the environmental impact of roadside memorials;
8. Records regarding the environmental impact of the attachment of bicycles to street fixtures;
9. Records regarding the placement of traffic signals along Shore Front Parkway, including, but not limited to, any and all correspondence regarding traffic signals and Shore Front Pakway;
10. Records regarding traffic surveys of Shore Front Parkway;
11. Records regarding traffic accidents on Shore Front Parkway; and
12. Petitions or other communications regarding traffic safety and Shore Front Parkway.

Should you deny any portion of this request based on a determination that you are legally exempt from the disclosure requirement with respect to a particular document, please provide me with a written explanation specifically citing the Public Officers Law §87(2) category into which you allege that each document allegedly exempt from disclosure falls.

As I am sure you are aware, these exemptions are to be narrowly construed, and the burden to demonstrate that the requested material indeed qualifies for exemption is yours. Gould v. NYPD, 87 NY2d 267 (1996). Moreover, you may only withhold disclosure where the material requested falls squarely within the ambit of one of those statutory exemptions. Id. Accordingly, please articulate particularized and specific justifications for your withholding in each case.

Please treat this request as severable. If you deny one portion or portions of it based on an alleged exemption from disclosure, please continue the process of providing me with copies of those records you agree you are required to disclose without delaying that process based on your partial denial of the overall request.

In other words, please turn over what you agree I am entitled to as soon as possible, even if you claim exemption from disclosing some of the records requested herein. Please also provide me with the name, address, and facsimile number of the person or body to whom I should direct an administrative appeal of any such potential denial.

Andres mother and I thank you in advance for your professional courtesy and prompt attention to this important matter.


Very truly yours,



OLIVER & OLIVER
By: Gideon Orion Oliver

2 Comments:

  • At 12:03 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    I don't know if you saw this today: the City's director of bike programs just quit and wrote a resignation letter ripping the department. Also check out this post about the three cyclist deaths in the last month.

    I'm no bike fanatic, but New York is needlessly bike-unfriendly.

     
  • At 4:48 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    The infamous "bone-breaking bridge bumps" caused serious injuries to numerous New York City cyclists and generated $10 million in law suits, one-fifth the total cost of building the the bridge's bicycle and pedestrian paths.

    Vesselenovitch also says the agency "could have produced plans for forty to fifty miles of workable bicycle lanes each year" but inexplicably only managed to install a little more than fifteen miles of bike lanes in the last two years.


    Yikes, I didn't know about all that.

    To be honest, I don't even have a bike any longer, and I've never done a Critical Mass (though I've cheered them on in three cities and two continents), so I'm hardly a bike freak either. It just seems like this is one area where Bloomberg is actually worse than Giuliani, which is odd, considering the whole congestion charging thing and his promotion of mass transit.

     

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

 
FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com