cycling, Spanish

Delivery cyclists on the “Boulevard of Death”

Photo: Chris Goldberg / Flickr

Translated from Annie Correal, “Repartidores en ‘Bulevar de la Muerte’El Diario/La Prensa, August 13, 2009.

Death of Mexican immigrant shows the level of danger in their work

New York – Pablo Pasarán was run over last Saturday at the intersection of 21st Street and 35th Avenue in Queens. As the family he left behind reflected on his life, other delivery workers continued his dangerous line of work, transporting heavy plastic bags filled with food in the hope of making a few more dollars in tips.

This task is particularly perilous on Queens Boulevard, known as the “Boulevard of Death,” where even though fences and signs have been installed, pedestrians continue to die as they try to cross the street.

“Buses have the least respect for cyclists. Taxis are also always trying to beat the light,” says Crispin Zapata, 46, a delivery worker from Puebla, Mexico, who supports his family on $350 a week he brings in working for a pizzeria on Greenpoint Avenue. “I’ve almost been in an accident so many times.”

In New York, around twenty cyclists have been killed every year since 2005, according to figures released by the Department of Motor Vehicles. There are no exact figures regarding how many of those were delivery workers, but Leah Todd, spokesperson for the New York Memorial Project, an organization that puts up white “ghost bikes” at locations where cyclists have been killed, said that Pasarán is the second delivery cyclist to be killed in a crash since 2005. The other was an Asian delivery worker killed in Manhattan. The organization will set up a bike to memorialize Pasarán before the end of the year.

Official statistics indicate that there are approximately 4,000 delivery workers in New York, a small fraction of the city’s 185,000 cyclists. Despite this, delivery cyclists are in greater danger than other cyclists because they spend more time on the street and travel at top speed under pressure from their employers and in order to earn more tips.

Candelario Serrano, a 22-year-old Mexican who has worked for eight months delivering pizzas for Victoria’s II, a pizzeria on 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, said that the greatest danger comes from driver carelessness. “People open car doors, and you don’t have time to react,” he argued, while a driver laid blame on the delivery workers.

“They’re idiots. They cross when they’re not supposed to. Every day I see them running red lights,” said Jorge Andrade, who has cruised Queens Boulevard in his taxi for 30 years. “There have always been deaths on this boulevard.” A few minutes later, a young Hispanic delivery cyclist rode against traffic, while motorists sped by.

Wiley Norvell, spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives, said that the organization has been lobbying for the creation of a separated bicycle lane on Queens Boulevard since the death of Asif Rahman in 2008. Rahman was the first cyclist killed on Queens Boulevard since 1995, but from that year to 2005 there were 227 cyclists and 1118 pedestrians killed. “That’s just too many,” he concluded.

Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, Spanish

Spanish News: Santo Domingo Metro Opens Monday

Máximo Gómez station
Máximo Gómez station. Photo by Orad

La Nación Dominicana: El Metro costará RD$105 millones cada mes, arranca el lunes de forma gratuita, hasta el día de reyes.

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, December 19.  According to Diandino Peña, the monthly operating cost of the Santo Domingo Metro will come to roughly $3 million US, or $105 million pesos at the current exchange rate.

Mr. Peña, the Director of the Transportation Reform Office (OPRET), also announced that on Monday Metro will begin the long-awaited in-service test of  Rapid Mass Transit Line 1, with full access to passengers at no charge through Epiphany on January 6.  Ten trains will circulate, each with a capacity of  650 passengers, and straphangers will have to wait no more than 5-6 minutes for a train.

Mr. Peña made the announcement alongside Manuel Vásquez, Miguel Ángel Sánchez and Rafael Serrano.  Mr. Vásquez, from Spain, was a consultant on the construction of the Santo Domingo Metro on loan from the Madrid Metro.  Mr. Sánchez will serve as Chief of Operations for the Santo Domingo Metro representing the Spanish side, while Mr. Serrano will fill the same function on the Dominican side.

Mr. Peña explained that once the in-service test with passengers is completed, covering the entire line and all the stations, they will conduct an inspection and evaluation of all of the subsystems and rolling stock in terms of their ability to respond to diverse situations, in the face of a demand that is expected to be higher than originally projected.

Once all the 19 trains are put into service, Mr. Peña said, they will prepare to charge fares by the end of January.  He and his colleagues invited all who are interested in the Metro to visit the sixteen stations on Line 1 during the following hours:

December 22-24, 26-28 and 31; January 2-6 9:00 AM through 7:00 PM
December 25 and January 1 1:00 PM through 7:00 PM
December 29 and 30 7:00 AM through 7:00 PM

On the other side of the operations, Mr. Peña announced that the OPRET will meet with Dominican business owners, including transportation syndicates, to determine who will operate feeder lines to the Metro.  He also assured the audience that the operation of the Metro will not affect electricity consumers nearby, because it is fed by two power lines of 69 and 138 megawatts.

As for the operating cost of the Metro, Mr. Peña explained that at the beginning it was expected to be around three million dollars per month, but eventually it would be lower due to better understanding of the system.