Carlos Menchaca Fundraiser; NYPD & Cyclist Deaths; City Council Speed Camera Vote

Please Join Us! Fundraiser for City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Wednesday, June 21, 6:30 p.m.

StreetsPAC board member Doug Gordon, whom many of you may know better by his nom de tweet and blog, Brooklyn Spoke, is holding a fundraiser next Wednesday for City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, and we have signed on as co-hosts.

CarlosStreetsPoll.jpgCarlos represents District 38 in Brooklyn (Sunset Park, Red Hook, and parts of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Carroll Gardens, Dyker Heights, Gowanus, Greenwood, South Slope, and Windsor Terrace), and was one of the very first candidates we endorsed in 2013. He's more than lived up to his campaign promises, and has been a terrific champion for safe-streets policies from his very first day in the City Council.

In addition to his commitment to progressive transportation policies, as Doug writes, Carlos's "work extends to so many more issues that are of huge importance right now. Whether it's immigration, equality, workers' rights, or open government, he's on the right side every time."

Here are the details:

Carlos Menchaca Fundraiser
Wednesday, June 21
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
309 2nd Street #1B
Brooklyn, NY 11215

The minimum ask for the fundraiser is just $25. It's a low sum, designed to encourage as many people as possible to attend, especially anyone who might not have the resources to otherwise get involved. Of course, we urge you to give more if you can, and any amount up to $175 will be matched $6-to-$1 by the NYC Campaign Finance Program.

Please join us Wednesday! There's a public Facebook event page here at which you can RSVP, and please share it with your networks.

Daily News Op-Ed: NYPD Needs to Stop Reflexively Blaming Cyclists for Their Own Deaths

Speaking of Doug Gordon, he published a prescient op-ed piece in yesterday's New York Daily News, challenging the NYPD to stop reflexively blaming people who get run over on their bicycles for somehow being responsible for their own deaths.

Citing several such incidents over the past year, Doug writes:

One factually inaccurate report can be chalked up to the chaotic nature of crash scenes and conflicting eyewitness reports. Multiple inaccurate reports form a disturbing pattern, one that suggests that the NYPD sees New Yorkers who bike as somehow inviting injury or even death for daring to share the roads with drivers.

That pattern may have just played out again.

On Monday, Dan Hanegby, 36, was riding a Citi Bike on W. 26th St. when he was run over by a charter bus driver. Police told the press that Hanegby, an accomplished tennis player and former staff sergeant with the Israeli Defense Forces, swerved to go around a parked van, struck the bus, and then fell under its rear tires.

And sure enough, Gothamist reported yesterday afternoon that it had reviewed footage from two security cameras that a friend of Dan Hanegby had obtained, which directly contradicts the police claim that Hanegby had swerved. Rather, it shows that the bus driver overtook Hanegby, passed too closely, and likely clipped the handle bar of the Citi Bike Hanegby was riding, causing him to fall under the bus.

Doug's op-ed lists a few steps the NYPD can take to improve, including stopping the leaking of frequently wrong reports before crash investigations are complete. And we could add to that some better detective work – family members and friends shouldn't have to be the ones tracking down camera footage and conducting their own, more thorough, investigations.

NYPD does have a role to play in helping New York City achieve Vision Zero, and reforming its warped culture around the deaths of people on bicycles is one place ripe for improvement.

City Council Passes Home Rule Message on Speed Safety Cameras; StreetsPAC Endorsees Lead Charge

Yesterday afternoon, by a vote of 37-6 with four abstentions, the New York City Council passed a home-rule message underlining its support for passage of a bill in the State Legislature that would authorize the city to more than double the number of speed safety cameras it can deploy around schools.

While the Albany legislation is imperfect, and it remains absurd that New York City can't act on its own to protect lives and deploy speed (and red-light) cameras in quantities, locations and with hours of operation that it sees fit, it would nevertheless be a significant step in the right direction if the Assembly, Senate and Governor were to heed the Council and enact the bill into law.

The vote in the City Council was a deeply gratifying reminder of the importance of our work. Every StreetsPAC endorsee present voted in favor of the Council resolution, and several of them spoke passionately about the urgent need for more speed safety cameras and their life-saving benefits. We're indebted to these Council Members for their commitment to making New York City's streets safer for everyone, as well as to Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, whose tireless efforts to bring cameras to every school in New York City are so, so critical.

Have a watch of the roll call vote here. The vote begins at the 10:35 mark and ends at 25:10, and 2013 StreetsPAC endorsees Ben Kallos, Brad Lander, Steve Levin, Rosie Mendez, Helen Rosenthal and Jimmy Van Bramer all speak about the importance of increasing deployment of speed safety cameras, as do stalwart Council Transportation Chair Ydanis Rodriguez and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (beginning around 7:35 in introducing the resolution), also a 2013 StreetsPAC endorsee.

Brooklyn writer Hope Reeves published an excellent op-ed in The New York Times on Wednesday detailing the speed safety camera bill in the legislature, and underscoring its importance. You can read it here.

And please help us ensure that the next City Council remains just as dedicated, if not more so, to street safety and progressive transportation policies by donating generously to StreetsPAC today.

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StreetsPAC supports candidates for public office who will champion Safe, Complete and Livable Streets.