The sufferer of a 2017 bike crash on the notoriously overcrowded Brooklyn Bridge has simply received a five-figure settlement after suing town — and the court docket’s determination is proof that the Division of Transportation should instantly create enough house for cyclists and pedestrians on all East River spans, in response to the lawyer representing the sufferer.
Lawyer Dan Flanzig, representing the sufferer of the Dec. 6, 2017, crash, stated that the settlement final month exhibits that town can not ignore well-known conditions on the bridge — the place pedestrians and cyclists should share one slim pathway, with one aspect designated for bikers and the opposite for walkers.
“Throughout this pandemic, now greater than ever, town must acknowledge the necessity to create secure infrastructure for cyclists who shall be commuting into Manhattan by bike,” stated Flanzig. “Overcrowding of our bridges will be addressed by devoted and guarded bike lanes which discourage entry and use by pedestrians. On the identical time, devoted house can and must be created for pedestrians to keep away from any harmful battle between these two teams.”
Flanzig says his shopper, who requested to stay nameless given the character of her job, was knocked off her bike whereas commuting to work after a vacationer walked into the bike lane. The sufferer, who fractured her hand, requiring surgical procedure, sued town and was simply awarded a five-figure settlement (although Flanzig declined to offer the precise quantity).
As a part of town’s deposition on Jan. 3, 2020, Hayes Lord, a senior transportation supervisor for the Division of Transportation, admitted that company honchos are, and have been, conscious of the harmful circumstances on the bridge.
Solely in 2018 — one yr after the sufferer’s crash — did DOT research the feasibility of putting in further delineators between the bicycle lane and the pedestrian lane close to the busy Brooklyn staircase.
“Regardless of its personal research, town had and nonetheless has did not institute a plan to make the bridge secure for all customers,” stated Flanzig.
In truth, Lord stated he had even given prior testimony in one other case involving an identical crash the place “a pedestrian crossed in entrance of a bike owner,” however nonetheless no modifications had been made after that. Since 2009, there have solely been “minor updates” to the design meant to steer pedestrians in direction of one aspect of the bridge and cyclists within the different, together with including bike symbols and extra delineators on only one small stretch of the span.
“As I acknowledged beforehand the one modifications that had been made had been within the updates to the including bike symbols or pedestrian symbols and including delineators,” Lord stated throughout his testimony.
The town’s paint jobs fade rapidly, because of crowding on the bridge, and had been doubtless inadequate on that morning in 2017 when the sufferer was thrown off her bike. Lord testified that he doesn’t recall any time between 2016 and early 2018 when the markings had been refurbished.
“If I recall accurately because of the lateness of the season it was not accomplished inside that yr,” he stated.
Lord additionally testified that DOT doesn’t do any sort of inspection regularly to see whether or not or not the paint has worn away and must be refurbished extra often.
This case solely reinforces one other landmark decision from 2017 when New York’s highest court docket, the Court docket of Appeals, dominated that New York Metropolis will be held answerable for failing to revamp streets with a historical past of site visitors accidents. That call stemmed from a 2004 crash, when Louis Pascarella, driving “at the very least” 54 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone, struck 12-year-old Anthony Turturro as he rode a motorbike on Gerritsen Avenue. Pascarella later pled responsible to assault.
Turturro received a $20-million settlement towards town. On enchantment, the excessive court docket dominated 6-to-1 in favor of Turturro, setting a precedent that town can not ignore recognized harmful circumstances.
Legal professional Steve Vaccaro, who additionally represents site visitors crash victims, stated on the time that the choice was a “game-changer.”
“The court docket held that departments of transportation will be held answerable for hurt brought on by dashing drivers, the place the DOT fails to put in traffic-calming measures regardless that it’s conscious of harmful dashing, until the DOT has particularly undertaken a research and decided that site visitors calming will not be required,” Vaccaro stated.
Initially of 2020, Division of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg apologized for the newest delay in fixing harmful circumstances on the Brooklyn Bridge bike and footpath, regardless of Streetsblog’s personal recommendation providing five ways to make it safer. And in June, DOT had hinted that it’d now contemplate a bike lane on the roadbed of the fabled span itself — although Trottenberg dismissed the concept out of hand.
However shy of any main, and certain expensive, redesign of the bridge, town ought to at the very least be sure that the markings are clear and visual to maintain pedestrians and cyclists separated and secure, stated Flanzig.
“This isn’t an advanced and costly repair — it’s bollards and paint,” he stated.
Crash statistics aren’t accessible for the bridge, however within the pre-COVID months, when pedestrians, vacationers, cyclists and distributors crowded the roadway, social media was repeatedly full of studies of crashes.
And final month, one other bike owner was thrown off his bike after a photographer snapping images for a proposal on the bridge stepped into the bike lane proper in entrance of the oncoming bike owner, sending each of them crashing to the bottom in a now-viral video.
Streetsblog has reached out to the Division of Transportation and metropolis Legislation Division for remark and can replace if we hear again.