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New York Post

 

Death By Nuisance

March 08, 2013

By Nicole Gelinas

City failing on small offenses

Six-year-old Amar Diarrassouba died last week under the wheels of a big rig on his way to school. It’s impossible to say what could have prevented one death — but the city should be doing more to stop nuisances before they turn into tragedies.

Yes, Mayor Bloomberg cares. Pedestrian deaths are down 17 percent from 211 a year when he took office to 176 last year (and it was lower the year before). Transportation honcho Janette Sadik-Khan has done a lot to fix dangerous crossings.

(And despite street-activist carping, business opposition to less space for trucks in the neighborhood didn’t change or delay an upcoming traffic-control project for Amar’s neighborhood.)

But safer crossings can’t fix everything.

If Bloomberg (or his successor) wants to cut deaths further, he’ll have to listen to what New Yorkers are telling him.

One opportunity came when parents of other students got so annoyed at not seeing crossing guard Flavia Roman where she was supposed to be that they complained.

"The school said it’s not their responsibility, that we need to talk to the NYPD and sign a petition," mother Tara French told The Post.

Of course it was the school’s job to contact the NYPD (which employs Roman).

But to anyone who has every tried to complain to city government about anything, the "get your neighbors together" directive will sound familiar.

Whether it’s residents of West 53rd Street, who endured industrial ventilation noise for more than a year, or people on the Bowery complaining about illegal clubland noise or people in Woodhaven, Queens, complaining about constant parties, they’ll tell you the first thing the people from the city say is: If you want anyone to listen, bring reinforcements.

Petitions are great if you want a dog run or want to change the Constitution. But when you see someone breaking the law, you shouldn’t have to corral people who work odd hours to sign a petition and then go to a meeting.

Another place Gotham is falling short is traffic laws. Unless he was making a delivery on that block (the NYPD didn’t answer a call on this point), the driver of the truck that killed Amar didn’t belong on a residential street.

This problem has gotten worse, because a new mall on the East River gets lots of deliveries.

But the law is worthless without enough enforcement. The NYPD gave out 6,458 summons for illegal trucks last year — 29 percent fewer than the 9,098 in 2011.

In the East Harlem neighborhood where Amar lived and went to school, the 25th Precinct gave out 275 truck-route violations last year, 25 fewer than the previous year. And the 23rd Precinct gave out just six such violations last year, compared to 43 in 2011.

The city overall also gave out 7 percent fewer speeding tickets last year. (The numbers all were down before Sandy.)

Enforcing traffic laws takes manpower — and the NYPD is down 6,000 officers.

The mayor keeps saying that the city can cut cops without harming quality of life.

But a truck barreling down a residential avenue may be the truck that hits someone (and if it hits a tourist riding a bike under Bloomberg’s soon-to-be-unrolled bikeshare plan, that could be the end of bikeshare).

Moreover, when civilian city agencies refuse to shut down illegal noise from an ever-growing clubland, it’s cops who get those complaints, too — diverting them from what they should be doing.

Last week, the mayor partly blamed parents. "Parents also have a responsibility to . . . explain to [their kids] they have to look before they cross," he said.

But it’s the city’s responsibility to make crossing guards go to work and make truckers obey laws.

The most recent sign of how what’s coming from the top down isn’t meeting with what’s coming from the bottom up is the mayor’s latest initiative — to get music junkies to turn their earbuds down.

Huh? The city itself allows nightclubs to use its municipal property on the West Side piers to hold marathon 48-hour raves — raves that send dangerous noise into apartments.

Nuisance clubs that flout the law also consume police resources that could be going to stop reckless drivers.

Enforcing the boring old law isn’t as glamorous as nipping earbuds, but it saves lives.

Original Source: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/death_by_nuisance_CTZogw9Cs009OEfEDSbBRJ

 

 
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