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Tag Archives: brooklyn

The Debate Over The Speed Limit on The Ocean Parkway

Should Ocean Parkway’s speed limit be raised? Currently, the speed limit for the Brooklyn boulevard is currently at 25 miles per hour. According to cameras, from March 5th to 11th, 91,000 motorists drove over 25 miles per hour on the Ocean Parkway. State Senator Simcha Felder, has introduced a bill that would increase the speed limit to 30 miles per hour, in an effort to move traffic more smoothly. Some residents of Brooklyn however, believe that 25 miles per hour is a safer limit, and that traffic moves fine at that speed. Many of those receiving summonses for speeding on Ocean Parkway have been lucky. If the summons is received in the mail, the Speed has been captured by camera and there are no points attached. However, if issued by a Police Officer, a conviction will lead to points on license.

If you receive a summons for a speeding violation, cellphone, or any other moving violation in NY State, an experienced traffic ticket attorney can help. Call us at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com.

Photo via VisualHunt

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Off Duty NYPD Officer Kills One and Injures Three Others While Driving Drunk.

An NYPD officer is out on bail after driving drunk and killing a pedestrian and injuring three others in Brooklyn over the weekend. No matter who you are, when you get behind the wheel you should never be under the influence. Driving while under the influence can change your life and the lives of others in the blink of an eye. Always exercise good judgement and when in doubt call a designated driver or a cab home.

Please read the full article below:

Bystanders corralled a drunken off-duty cop after his speeding SUV killed a Brooklyn pedestrian and horribly injured three of his college pals in a gruesome wreck, cops and eyewitnesses said.

Officer Nicholas Batka’s vehicle was seen swerving in the seconds before impact. His runaway SUV tore the leg off one victim and left another impaled on a fence, witnesses said.

“The EMTs had to get a saw to remove the man impaled on the railing,” said witness Jaminah Kang, 35. “Another man (looked) like he took a chain saw to the knee.”

The inebriated second-year cop flashed his badge and slipped into his SUV’s passenger’s seat about 3 a.m. Saturday as the mangled victims writhed in agony on a bloodstained sidewalk in Williamsburg.

A cell phone video captured a man in a red shirt wagging a menacing finger at Batka, keeping the SUV door shut tight and the off-duty cop pinned inside.

“Don’t let him get out!” someone else shouted. “He’s going to run away!”

The sloshed cop was trapped inside the SUV — on the driver’s side by a utility pole he crashed into and on the passenger side by the enraged onlookers.

A 21-year-old man died at Bellevue Hospital after Batka lost control and the gray 2012 SUV Dodge Durango careened off Bedford Ave. just after making a right-hand turn from N. Eighth St.

Prosecutors identified the victim as Andrew Esquivel in charging documents, along with three survivors of the late night crash.

Sophia Tabachoun, 20, was listed in stable condition, while Divya Menezes, 23, was hospitalized at Bellevue in critical condition. She underwent surgery late Saturday after breaking both legs in the crash, officials said.

James Balchaunas, 24, was also hurt, but his condition was not immediately known.

Batka was charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, three counts of assault, driving while intoxicated, driving with impaired ability and driving on a sidewalk.

In a white T-shirt and blue jeans, he appeared somber with his head down at his arraignment late Saturday night in Brooklyn Criminal Court. He posted $300,000 bond, and was released. A judge ordered his driving license suspended.

Witnesses described a nightmarish scene of chaos and carnage in the darkness once the SUV jumped the curb and plowed into the group walking together along the sidewalk.

“I ran over and this girl’s leg was in half,” said Ryan Carpenter, 27, who was heading home when he spied the bloody crash scene.

“I took my shirt off and tried to stop her from bleeding while trying to calm her. She kept screaming.”

At least three of the victims were Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates living in Williamsburg and headed for home after getting off the L train, said the sister of one victim.

“Help! Help! Help!” one anguished victim is heard howling during a chaotic six-minute video. “I don’t want to lose my leg! Help!”

An employee from the Bedford Gourmet Food store across the street rushed over with ice and towels.

“I didn’t know what to do,” said the store worker, who declined to give his name. “Everyone panicked. (The driver) was trying to back out, too, and kept going into the building. People were holding the driver from leaving.”

The shocking crash occurred just four hours before Batka was due to start a 7 a.m. shift with the Manhattan Transit Task Force following two days off, cops said.

Batka, 28, a former city correction officer, was arrested at the scene and suspended from the force, NYPD Inspector Scott Shanley told reporters at the accident site.

The officer refused to take a Breathalyzer test, sources told the Daily News. After denying he had been behind the wheel, he then asked to speak with his union rep from the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, prosecutors said.

Some other friends walking with the four victims escaped unscathed when the SUV missed them by inches.

“The other two friends were literally one step ahead of them, so they didn’t get hit,” said eyewitness Kang, who called 911. “It was unreal. It was like an episode of TV come to life.

“I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing.”

Police sources echoed the stories of witnesses, reporting that the force of the impact led investigators to believe Batka was speeding before jumping the curb.

According to witnesses, the drunken cop first attempted to throw the SUV in reverse after the vehicle crashed — but the car instead kept lurching forward, slamming into a townhouse stoop.

Batka, who joined the NYPD in January 2015, was listed in stable condition, police said.

Batka’s aunt and uncle said there were never any indications that the young cop had a problem with alcohol — and they appeared shocked by word of his arrest.

“I know a lot of people who shouldn’t be cops … that have the wrong attitude, but Nick is mellow Jell-O,” said his uncle Walter Leonick, a retired NYPD officer. “I never worried about him doing anything wrong.”

Batka took guardianship of his niece last year when his older brother died of a heart attack, and spent time caring for his mother. His brother, just 35 years old, keeled over during a Christmas party.

Leonick knew immediately that the Saturday accident was a bad situation, saying “He’s in a lot of trouble.”

Photo: NY Daily News

L Train Shutdown or Service Change Talks Have Begun

MTA has begun discussing plans for the L Train’s upcoming 18-month construction to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012. They will either close the subway line or reduce service during the construction period. Either way this change in service will cause delays and increase traffic from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Please read the rest of the article below:

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering two proposals to shut down the L train tunnel between Manhattan and Brooklyn that would close the subway line under the East River or reduce its service by 80 percent, officials said on Wednesday.

The proposals that will be outlined at a public meeting in Brooklyn on Thursday are closing the entire tunnel for a year and a half to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy, or closing one tube at a time over a three-year period. Any shutdown — a growing source of anxiety among people who live along the crowded subway line — would not begin until early 2019, officials said.

If one tube remained open, trains would run every 12 to 15 minutes, up from the current interval of three to four minutes during the morning rush, officials said at a briefing for reporters. Trains could carry about one-fifth of the 225,000 riders who currently take the L train under the river each day.

The agency has ruled out making repairs only during nights and weekends because the complex work could not be done in such a narrow window, said Veronique Hakim, the president of New York City Transit, which runs the subway and buses. Building a subway tunnel under the river, as some residents have suggested, would be expensive and take too much time, Ms. Hakim said.

Under either proposal, the authority might run extra buses over the Williamsburg Bridge and add ferry service between Manhattan and Brooklyn. Riders could be directed to other nearby subway routes, including the G and M lines, which would have additional trains to handle more passengers.

The authority’s chairman, Thomas F. Prendergast, and Ms. Hakim planned to present the two options on Thursday during the meeting at the Marcy Avenue Armory. A second public meeting is scheduled for May 12 at the Salvation Army Theater in Manhattan.

The subway crossing, known as the Canarsie tunnel, was flooded during the 2012 hurricane. Officials said the tunnel required major work to fix crumbling walls and to repair tracks and cables.

Despite the damage, Mr. Prendergast said that the tunnel was safe for riders, and that the agency had conducted regular inspections to look for problems. After receiving input from residents and businesses, the agency plans to decide which option to pursue within three months.

Asked whether he would rather close the whole tunnel at once, Mr. Prendergast said the agency was committed to hearing from the community before making a decision. But he noted that when people learned more about the plans, they often favored a full closing.

“I think there is an ‘Aha’ moment they have in their minds, like, ‘Geez if it’s only one in five people you can carry, maybe it would be better to have two tracks,’” Mr. Prendergast said in reference to closing the tracks in both tubes, the more efficient of the two options.

The Canarsie tunnel work could cost $800 million to $1 billion, with the federal government covering much of the project, Mr. Prendergast said.

The briefing was the first time that officials from the authority discussed the plans in detail. Under plans for a full tunnel closing, no L trains would run between the Eighth Avenue stop in Manhattan and the Bedford Avenue stop in Brooklyn. The line would continue to run throughout the rest of Brooklyn.

If one tube were closed at a time, the L line would run in two separate segments: reduced service between Bedford Avenue and Eighth Avenue and nearly regular service between the Lorimer Street and Canarsie-Rockaway Parkway stops.

Asked whether buses might have a dedicated lane over the Williamsburg Bridge so they would not get stuck in traffic, Mr. Prendergast said the idea would be considered. To add capacity to the G line, Ms. Hakim said the agency would add cars to its trains, which are known for being shorter than their platforms.

Looking for a Career Change? Try the Commercial Automotive Industry

I’ve had the privilege to know and do business with Roman Gold for over 10 years.  He owns a successful CDL Driving school in Brooklyn and Spring Valley, New York. If you or someone you know is interested in a Commercial Driver occupation I strongly recommend going to CDL Auto Club, Inc. Roman and CDL Auto Club, Inc. have been a great resource to my clients over the years , so I asked him to share a little bit about his school, CDL Auto Club, Inc.

New York Traffic Ticket Attorney: Tell us a little bit about CDL Auto Club, Inc.

Roman Gold: At the CDL Auto Club Inc. we offer convenient automotive training to fit your needs. In business since 1991 we have helped thousands of people pass their road test. At the CDL Auto Club Inc. we specialize in driving lessons and refresher courses, commercial driving license (CDL) training, 5 hour pre-licensing classes and own a variety of vehicles to help you pass your road test. When you learn how to drive with us, we will provide the same vehicle you were trained on to take your road test, especially if you on trained on a tractor trailer or a bus.

New York Traffic Ticket Attorney: Why is making a career switch to being a Commercial Vehicle Operator a good idea?

Roman Gold: The commercial driver occupation represents a good employment opportunity. The Job Growth Forecasts indicate that there will be readily available jobs for drivers for the foreseeable future. Entry-level drivers enjoyed starting compensation levels around $35,000 per year. Many transportation companies offer benefits such as insurance, retirement plans, paid vacations and safety bonuses. Drivers that are successful as employees can become owner-operators and own their own businesses, which is how many of today’s large trucking companies began. Everyone has heard of outsourcing, where jobs are shipped overseas. That simply cannot be done with Commercial drivers.

New York Traffic Ticket Attorney: Why should someone who is interested in obtaining their CDL license choose CDL Auto Club, Inc.?

Roman Gold: Delivering your success is the foundation of our service. When selecting a driving school, you need to have confidence that your instructor is always doing what’s right for you…and not what may be convenient for them. All of our instructors work for the CDL Auto Club Inc. No services are outsourced. Your success is important to us. Most of our business comes from referrals from existing students. In a matter of weeks, you can be trained and placed in a new career as a professional Commercial Vehicle Operator, placing you on the fastest road to success in the new economy.

New York Traffic Ticket Attorney: Does CDL Auto Club, Inc. offer any other services?

Roman Gold: We also offer 6 hour defensive driving courses for anyone who would like to reduce up to four (4) active points on their driver’s license. This course can be useful in removing points received within the last 18 months.

New York Traffic Ticket Attorney: That would be very helpful for my clients who have received summonses that carried points.

New York Traffic Ticket Attorney: Where can interested students take classes and how can they get in contact with you?

Roman Gold: There are two locations to choose from 2749 Stillwell Avenue 2nd Floor Brooklyn, NY 11224, or 16 N Main St, Spring Valley, NY 10977.  Please visit http://www.driverseducationbrooklyn.com/ for more information or call 718-266- 2555 with any questions.

 

 

 

NY Traffic Lawyer Warns Brooklyn Drivers about an anticipated 11,500* more Failure to Yield to Pedestrians Tickets in Brooklyn, NY coming in 2016.

One of the most commonly cited violations related to pedestrian and driver encounters in Brooklyn, New York is the Failure to Yield to Pedestrian violation.  The failure to yield to pedestrian ticket is a 3 point violation. There have been 1,931 summons issued this year alone for Failing to Yield to A Pedestrian in Brooklyn.

You can receive a Failure to Yield Summons if you do any of the following:

  • If you do not yield to pedestrians walking in a crosswalk
  • If you pass another car that is already yielding to pedestrians, you can be ticketed.
  • If you do not give pedestrians the right of way at a traffic control device such as a Stop, Yield, or Traffic Light, even if you have the green light.

As a traffic court lawyer, I want you to be aware of these things.

In addition to Failing to Yield to Pedestrian being a major moving violation that results in a fine, it could also result in serious injury or death. Every year more than 15,000 pedestrians are injured by drivers in New York City.  The Right of Way Law which is part of Mayor Deblasio’s Vision Zero plan helps protect pedestrians on dangerous city streets. The law makes it a possible misdemeanor crime when a driver fails to yield and kills or injures a person walking in the crosswalk with the right of way. If a driver fails to yield but doesn’t cause an injury, the driver may be fined up to $188; if the driver causes physical injury or death, the driver may be fined up to $338 and in theory be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail, though this is highly unlikely for the first offense.

When driving, it’s important to recognize when a pedestrian is likely to cross.  When making a right turn, you may have the green light but the pedestrian is also prompted to walk by traffic control signs.

Generally, the Failure to Yield to Pedestrian ticket is given under the police officer’s discretion.  If a police officer feels that you are driving recklessly or putting the safety of pedestrians at risk, you may be given a summons. If you are given a summons you will be required to report to one of the five traffic violations courts in Brooklyn:  Traffic Violations Bureau Brooklyn North, Traffic Violations Bureau Brooklyn South, Kings County Supreme Court, Kings County Criminal Court and Red Hook Community Justice Center.

If you’ve received a Failure to Yield to Pedestrian ticket anywhere in Brooklyn, we can help you fight it. Email your Brooklyn Traffic Lawyer at michaelblock.law@gmail.com or call 212-227-9008 for free legal advice.

*numbers based on monthly average from first two months of 2016.

Fed Up Uber drivers protest the App during the Super bowl

Fed Up Uber drivers protest the App during the Super bowl in an effort to slow down business and get corporate headquarters attention on one of the busiest Sundays of the year. Tired of price cuts, no benefits for full time drivers and all around poor treatment, the driver partners led by fellow Uber driver Abdoul Diallo are in the process of creating their own e- hailing app that would better benefit employees.

Check out the full article from the New York Times below:

On Super Bowl Sunday, a few hundred Uber drivers met in the cold in a public park in Queens, plotting to disrupt the app that thousands of New Yorkers were about to use to get in place to watch the big game. Gathered angrily on rows of wooden benches were Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Kenyans, Serbs and Bangladeshis, many of them waving handmade signs. Their yellow placards attacked the ride-hailing service in the innumerable languages of polyglot New York. “Shame on Uber!” one announced in Spanish. “Uber Broke Our Hearts!” said another in Tibetan. Then in English: “We Made You Billionaires!” and “We Are Not Slaves!”

“We want to show Uber that without us full-time drivers, they won’t have any cars on the road,” Abdoul Diallo shouted from atop a concrete stage. Mr. Diallo, a Guinean immigrant who has emerged as a leader of the strikes, was holding up his own sign: “No Drivers, No Uber — It’s That Simple.”

“This is the formula!” he hollered to the crowd.

It has been nearly five years since Uber arrived in New York City. With its Randian philosophy and proprietary algorithms, the company promised to reshape the driving industry, and in many ways that promise has come true. A million New Yorkers have become accustomed to making cars materialize by pulling out their smartphones — and not just in Manhattan, but also in the other boroughs, which have long been underserved by for-hire providers. In part as a result, taxi owners have seen their profits crumble, taxi lenders are slowly going under and taxi unions are scrambling to protect their members’ jobs.

More recently, however, Uber’s indomitable rise has been clouded by an insurgency from a small but vocal portion of its own drivers who say they feel neglected, even used. From spring 2014 to spring 2015, the company quadrupled its business in the city, and for nearly a year it has been signing up new customers at a rate of 30,000 a week. The drivers argue that such dynamic growth would not have been possible without them: They, after all, supply the cars that keep the network liquid. Drawn to the company by advertisements that promised decent wages, many now contend that they are victims of a corporate bait-and-switch. As Uber has obtained a solid foothold in the market (and a $60 billion valuation), the drivers are complaining that it has slashed its prices in an effort to destroy the competition and to finance its expansion on their backs.

“In the beginning, your company was great for both drivers and customers,” Mr. Diallo and his partners wrote this month in a letter to the service. “You treated drivers well and we loved you for that. Little did we know that it would be a short-lived momentary ecstasy that you used to lure us in in great numbers, just so that you can execute your plans and strategies toward world domination.”

Uber, mostly through the voice of Josh Mohrer, the 33-year-old general manager of Uber New York, has said it is pained by the grievances of the drivers, who, while not employees of the service, are known as “driver-partners” in the company’s jargon. Like most tech operations, Uber has a data set for everything, and Mr. Mohrer said his numbers proved that January’s price cut, like a steeper one two years ago, increased the demand for rides and therefore led to larger driver paychecks.

“It’s not intuitive to think that lower fares will mean more money, but that is the reality,” Mr. Mohrer said. He added that he understood why the drivers might be anxious. “It’s a big ask to say, ‘Just trust us.’”

And yet there are underlying reasons for the drivers not to trust him. Uber, like other players in the gig economy, has a tenuous relationship with those who make a living from its software. Its drivers — 34,000 in New York — are independent contractors who buy their own cars, pay for gas and maintenance, and provide their own insurance. Although they get no benefits, they remit to Uber 20 to 25 percent of what they make as a fee to use the service. And unlike its competitors like Lyft, Uber does not permit tipping through its app, but it still reserves the right to “deactivate” its drivers, sometimes for little more than a subpar rider rating.

Two years ago, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said in an interview about the company’s plan to field a fleet of driverless vehicles that a reason the service was relatively expensive was that customers were paying for “the other dude in the car.” As the company’s ridership explodes and the investor class anticipates a potential public offering, the drivers say they often feel like just some other dude: a frictional human substance that gets in the way of an idealized experience of seamless digital travel.

“Uber treats its drivers however it wants,” Mr. Diallo said. “But we’re the ones who do everything except provide the technology.”

A former import-export trader who studied for a business degree, Mr. Diallo, 29, has been driving for the company for three years in a $50,000 Chevrolet Suburban. At first, he said, the job was great: He could afford his lease and still make money because he was taking in as much as $5,000 a week.

But in 2014, Uber cut its rates by 20 percent and not long after that it increased its commissions. Last year, it forced new drivers working for its luxury arm, Uber Black, to pick up passengers through its less expensive option, UberX. On top of this, Mr. Diallo claimed that Uber’s aggressive hiring has flooded the city with too many drivers chasing too few fares.

The price cuts last month were the final straw that set off the rebellion. Most of the drivers learned about the change through a company email, whose lack of warning and remoteness were softened by the fact that Uber promised, for a month, to guarantee an hourly wage at pre-cut levels. Within days of the announcement — and despite the guarantees — Mr. Diallo and two other drivers, Fabio Krasniqi and Farrukh Khamdamov, decided on a strike. Calling themselves the Uber Drivers Network, they created a Facebook page, designed a flier and paid for nearly 20,000 copies at a print shop near La Guardia.

“People can’t make a living,” Mr. Diallo said on the phone after a meeting to coordinate the New York actions with others in London and San Francisco. “They’re picking up $8 fares. They’re driving their cars into the ground. Collectively, there’s a lot of money coming in, but no one individual is making much.

“It’s gotten to the point,” he said, “where it’s literally unbearable.”

Uber likes to say that its drivers, not its riders, are its customers. And while the company might not give its customers health care or a pension, it does provide them access to high-tech support centers, modeled on Apple’s Genius Bars, where they can ask questions about commercial licenses, receive free medical exams or get a can of soda. Uber also helps its drivers negotiate leases with car dealers.

The conflict over the price cuts has been especially vexing for the company, which is adamant that the lower rates have been a boon to both the drivers and its own bottom line. Shortly after the strikers wrote to Uber, Mr. Kalanick posted a memo onto his Facebook page showing that the previous cuts had increased the average driver’s gross hourly wages from $28 to $37. On Tuesday, Mr. Mohrer released numbers indicating that from the three weeks before the last round of cuts to the three weeks after, drivers’ wages went up by 17 percent.

Uber also disputes the claim that there are too many drivers in New York. There are still more taxi riders that the company could woo, and, according to Mr. Mohrer, after the recent cuts were made, trips in the Bronx and Queens, where many drivers live, went up by nearly 25 percent.

But if all this data has the weight of scripture for Uber executives, it has been less persuasive to the drivers, who say the statistics do not fully describe the experience of working for the company. Though lower prices might increase their workload and thus their gross, they say, the increased revenue will be eroded by a corresponding increase in expenses.

At the Super Bowl rally, a driver named Mustafa, who declined to give his last name because he feared reprisals from Uber, said he expected to make about $40 an hour after the cuts. But that was before he paid for higher costs of maintenance, gas and washes; for his car lease, insurance and sales and income taxes; for emissions inspections and the 2.5 percent of earnings he gives each year to the Black Car Fund, a drivers’ trade group, for workers’ compensation; and, of course, for his commissions.

“When you put it together, the numbers don’t add up,” Mustafa said. “I’m taking home less than minimum wage.”
And beyond money, culture matters, too, the drivers say. Some mentioned a photograph that Mr. Mohrer posted on Twitter during his early days at Uber, which showed him smiling with Mr. Kalanick above a message that read, “Jamming with @travisk and plotting city domination.” Others pointed to their own support of Uber this summer when the company went to war with Mayor Bill de Blasio, who wanted to cap its growth, ostensibly to lessen road congestion. During the fight, which it won when Mr. de Blasio dropped his plan for the cap, Uber mobilized millions of dollars and an all-star team of political tacticians, but it also made use of the sympathetic image of hard-working immigrants telling City Hall that Uber put food on the table for their families.

“We stood behind them,” said Ronnie Paulino, a driver who has worked for Uber for a year. “Then they turned around and cut our pay.”

After speaking this month to an economics class at New York University, Mr. Mohrer acknowledged that when he first came to Uber, there were fewer drivers and stronger bonds between them and his management team. But as the fleet has grown, he said, he has tried to remain responsive to the drivers, who, on average, work 30 hours a week — or triple the rate of their peers in smaller cities.

“They’re more vested and engaged in Uber, so we take a more careful approach here,” Mr. Mohrer said. He added: “It’s a deeper relationship.”

But deeper doesn’t necessarily mean easier. A few weeks ago, Mr. Mohrer met with the leaders of the strikes at his office on West 27th Street in Chelsea’s gallery district. He said they had a frank discussion about the rate cuts, which could be rescinded if the cuts do not achieve their goals. While he was not explicit about what those goals might be, he insisted that the conversation had been useful. “I want to do this regularly,” he said. “Giving drivers the opportunity to speak to me and my staff can result in more rapid change.”

The strikers found the meeting less successful. “It was a joke,” Mr. Diallo said. “They treated us like jokers.” From his perspective, Mr. Mohrer offered no concessions on the cuts and was firm on only one position: that there would never be a tipping option on Uber’s app.

And that was the message Mr. Krasniqi delivered to the crowd in Queens on Super Bowl Sunday. Cupping his hands to his mouth, he reported on the meeting, then told the drivers to call their friends and relatives who also worked for Uber and urge them to stop driving.

“That’s how we built them up — with our friends and families,” Mr. Krasniqi roared. “And if we built them up, we can destroy them!”

It is hard to tell at this point just how serious the threat to Uber from sustained unrest would be. The challenges of organizing a work force composed of men and women of disparate ethnicities and languages loosely connected by a cloud-based app are significant. “If the drivers can come together in a block causing problems, they might get something,” said Evan Rawley, a professor of strategy at the Columbia Business School who studies the taxi industry. “But this is not West Virginia coal miners who all grew up together in the same small town.”

Uber has been somewhat clumsy in dealing with the problems with its fleet. In a stroke of unfortunate timing, Wired magazine published a 3,000-word treatise on Uber’s new corporate logo one day after the drivers went on strike outside its New York office. It was an inadvertent study in tech-world navel-gazing: as hundreds of immigrants were splashed across the Internet attacking Uber, Wired described how Mr. Kalanick had been working for two years on the logo, immersing himself in organic color schemes and kerning.

There is a potential wild card: Class-action lawsuits have been filed against Uber, including in the federal courts in Brooklyn and San Francisco, which seek to make the drivers full employees. If the suits are successful, they could cripple Uber’s business model, though some legal experts have said they are skeptical that the drivers could prevail when they use their own vehicles, and decide themselves when and whether to pick up passengers.

That leaves the traditional route of union organizing, which, in the case of the strikers in New York, has become chaotic. About a year ago, the Uber Drivers Network approached Local 1181 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, one of whose organizers has been helping them plan rallies and collect union cards. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, an advocacy group for yellow cabdrivers, claims to have signed up nearly 5,000 Uber drivers in the city. And on Feb. 2, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1430, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking to represent another 600 Uber drivers who work at La Guardia.

Mr. Diallo and his team have been working on a secret weapon: a driver-owned app to compete with those from Lyft and Uber, those from other ride-hailing companies like Gett and Via, and the taxi industry’s own two e-hailing systems, Way2Ride and Arro. The drivers designed the app themselves and have hired a company called Swift Technologies to build it. It could be ready as early as next month.

“The solution is not to stay with Uber,” Mr. Diallo said. “The solution is to have our own platform — to build a real partnership and really be partners.”

For now, however, they are still planning strikes, even if the one on Super Bowl Sunday was of questionable effectiveness. The drivers celebrated the action on their Facebook page, posting a screen shot of Uber’s app that night — accompanied by the hashtag #SHUTDOWNSUPERBOWL — that showed a wait time at Kennedy Airport of 72 minutes.

But the very next morning, Uber sent an email to its drivers announcing that the day before, it had broken its record for the most trips on a Sunday.

“Thanks to you, our driver-partners,” the email read, “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers moved safely around the city this weekend.”

photo credit: nationofachange.com

US Attorney General’s Daughter Arrested after Failure to Pay Her Uber-T Fare in Brooklyn

The stepdaughter of U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch found herself in trouble with the law after failing to pay a cab driver in Brooklyn, police sources said Sunday.

Kia Absalom was taken into police custody and placed in a holding cell at the 69th Precinct stationhouse in Canarsie after she couldn’t cover her $20 fare about 3:30 p.m. last Monday, according to police sources.

Hassan Almaweri drove the cab that Kia Absalom, stepdaughter to U.S. Attoney for New York Loretta Lynch, allegedly couldn’t pay for.

Hassan Almaweri drove the cab that Kia Absalom, stepdaughter to U.S. Attoney for New York Loretta Lynch, allegedly couldn’t pay for.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

 

“I asked her to pay me,” Almaweri told the Daily News.

“She said, ‘No, I paid by the app.’”

“What do you mean, the app?” Almaweri says he responded.

 

Almaweri is a taxi driver signed up for UberT — Uber’s taxi hail option, according to a spokesperson for the app. For a $2 fee, riders can use Uber to book a yellow or green cab and then pay with cash or credit, not through the app.

Absalom, whose father, Stephen Hargrove, married Lynch in 2007, said she didn’t have any credit cards on hand but had credit card numbers, which the driver refused to accept, police sources said.

“So I drive her to the police station,” Almaweri said. “I go to the police and say, ‘This lady doesn’t want to pay me.’”

A sergeant who was involved with the dispute said Absalom never made mention of her relationship to Lynch.

After Absalom was placed in a cell, her boyfriend came and paid the fare, the cabbie and police sources said. Police voided the arrest, and Absalom was released without ever being fingerprinted or processed, sources said.

Later that day, a lieutenant at the precinct notified the department of the arrest and an internal review was launched, police sources said.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

The cabbie, Hassan Almaweri, 58, said Absalom, 21, told him she thought she’d paid with an app and didn’t have cash.

On Thursday, Absalom’s father, along with FBI agent John Robison, visited the precinct to make sure that Absalom didn’t get preferential treatment and that the incident was handled properly, sources said. They even verified that Absalom’s shoelaces were removed after she was placed in a cell, just like anybody else in custody, sources said.

Lynch was sworn in as attorney general in April.

Article Originally Featured on NY Daily News

*Photo Credit: “Loretta E. Lynch Addresses the CERD Committee” By: United States Geneva’s Photostream/Source: Flickr

New York City Crackdown on Speeding, Cellphones and Failure to Yield to Pedestrians

The New York Police Department said on Monday that it was cracking down on motorists this week in areas frequented by older adults, an announcement that came out the same day a 62-year-old woman was fatally struck by a city bus in Brooklyn.

The initiative follows a string of fatal collisions involving pedestrians and motorists in the past two months.

Police officers will target drivers who commit moving violations like speeding and failing to yield to pedestrians near senior centers during times when there are large numbers of people in those areas, officials said in an advisory distributed to members of the news media. The effort, called the Holiday Pedestrian Safety Initiative, began Monday and is expected to run until Sunday, according to the advisory.

The enforcement initiative focuses on seven moving violations outlined under Vision Zero, the mayor’s plan to eliminate pedestrian fatalities in the city. Other offenses include improper turns, texting or using a phone while driving, and traffic signal violations.

The initiative aims to “prevent injuries and create a safe environment,” the police said.

Traffic fatalities have fallen from 244 around this time in 2014 to 217 this year, a decrease of about 11 percent, according to figures provided by the Police Department. Pedestrian fatalities have fallen more modestly, from 128 to 122 in the same period, about a 5 percent change, the police said.

The police said the woman killed on Monday, Eleonora Shulkina, was crossing East 17th Street in Sheepshead Bay when she was hit by a B36 bus making a left turn off Avenue Z. The driver remained at the scene and was not arrested as the police continued their investigation on Monday.

Her death follows a series of fatal accidents involving older pedestrians in New York. On Dec. 2, Liana Platika, 84, was fatally struck by a garbage truck at 58th Street and Third Avenue in Manhattan. Bella Markowitz, 85, died the same day, two days after she was critically injured by a driver making a left turn at East 16th Street and Kings Highway in Brooklyn.

In both cases, the drivers remained at the scene or were found nearby. Neither was arrested or issued a summons, the police said on Monday.

 

*Article Originally Featured on The New York Times

*Photo Credit: “NYPD” By: Giacomo Barbaro/Source: Flickr

A 70-Year-Old Woman in Brooklyn was fatally struck By MTA Bus Driver after His Failure to Yield

A longtime Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus driver was arrested on Tuesday after his bus hit a 70-year-old woman who was crossing the street in Brooklyn, killing her just a block from the shelter where she lived, the authorities said.

After the bus struck the woman, the driver continued on to a nearby depot, and by the time investigators determined through surveillance video which bus was involved in the crash, a second driver had picked it up from the depot and begun a new route, an authority spokeswoman, Amanda Kwan, said.

The driver, Paul Roper, 48, who has been a city bus driver for 15 years, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, a felony; failure to yield to a pedestrian, a misdemeanor; and failure to exercise due care, a traffic violation. The authority suspended him without pay.

The woman, Carol Bell, was walking north on Sackman Street and trying to cross Fulton Street in the Broadway Junction section of Brooklyn around 6:15 a.m. when a southbound bus turned left onto Fulton, the police said.

She had just waved hello to a grocery store owner, as she did almost every morning on her way from the Magnolia House Women’s Shelter to a methadone treatment program. Ms. Bell had been homeless off and on since the mid-1990s, her daughter said.

Surveillance video published by NBC New York showed her waiting cautiously on the side of the street for cars to pass, and then moving across the street with the aid of her walker. There was no painted crosswalk at the intersection, but the charges indicate Ms. Bell still had the right of way.

The bus stopped briefly after hitting her, and then drove off to the East New York Depot, several blocks away, near the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and Broadway, the police said. The bus, which was not in service, had been returning to the depot from the B15 bus route at the time of the crash, Ms. Kwan said.

Photos from the scene showed a crumpled walker lying in the street.

The authorities initially could not find Mr. Roper on Tuesday morning. Ms. Kwan said the bus was towed back to the depot after its rooftop number was seen on surveillance video and investigators pulled it over along the B15 route, with a fresh driver at its wheel.

The crash, coming several days after three trick-or-treaters were killed by a car that jumped a curb in the Bronx, drew renewed promises from Mayor Bill de Blasio about the city’s commitment to its Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths. Residents who live near the scene of Tuesday’s crash said speeding buses are a constant problem.

One of the charges Mr. Roper faces — failure to yield — was at the center of a clash this year between the mayor and the city’s major bus drivers’ union. A new traffic-safety law made failing to yield a misdemeanor in some cases, and enforcement of the law had prompted protests by drivers. But on Tuesday, the union, Transport Workers Union Local 100, was restrained in its response to the charges against Mr. Roper, saying only that the crash was a “terrible tragedy.”

Mr. de Blasio told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that the Vision Zero initiative had already helped to reduce fatalities.

“We’re very committed to it, and every time we lose someone, we say, you know, this is something that we need to keep reiterating to people — the care they need to take with driving, and why all these standards matter, why that lower speed limit matters,” Mr. de Blasio said.

In 1998, Ms. Bell’s daughter, Lisa Bell, got an apartment, where she lived with her mother until she lost the lease around 2007.

“She was a very caring person; she never let me go hungry. She had a heart of gold,” Lisa Bell, 51, said, adding, “We had a rough life.”

A man who identified himself as Mr. Roper’s brother said he spoke briefly with him on Tuesday. “He didn’t see nothing,” said the brother, who declined to give his name.

Lisa Bell said she was not upset at the bus driver, but wanted him to understand how she felt.

“I know it wasn’t intentional,” she said. “It was an accident he didn’t stop. He was scared. It happens every day. But I need him to know he took my mom’s life, and that’s my best friend.”

Article Originally Posted By The New York Times

*Photo Credit:

Drunk Driver in Brooklyn Files Lawsuit Against Cop Who Shot Him

Drunk-driving parolee files lawsuit against cop who shot him

Article Originally Featured on The New York Post

A drunken parolee whose car careened through Brooklyn, jumping curbs and smashing cars, is suing the cop who shot him to stop the vehicular rampage.

Robert Ortiz of Brooklyn claims Officer James Hasper “without any cause or provocation whatsoever, used unreasonable and excessive force” when he shot Ortiz in the shoulder to end the July 10, 2014 incident, according to a Brooklyn federal court lawsuit.

Ortiz admits he was in violation of his parole, and had “consumed alcohol and marijuana” before getting behind the wheel of a friend’s Chevy Suburban and zipping down Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie.

When police tried to pull him over, he fled, hitting at least three cars in the process, riding the sidewalks and forcing pedestrians to dodge him, court records say. He eventually turned onto a dead-end street and crashed into a fire hydrant.

Ortiz, 39, who has more than two dozen arrests on his rap sheet and was on parole for criminal possession of stolen property, was surrounded by officers but hadn’t gotten out of the car when Hasper approached.

Ortiz was slapped with a variety of charges and is due in court Nov. 10.

The whiny parolee wants unspecified damages and claims Hasper’s actions were “not reasonable under the circumstances.”

If you have received a traffic ticket for a DUI, DWI or any other alcohol and drug related offences, please contact us immediately at 212-227-9008 or email us at michaelblock.law@gmail.com to learn more about how we can defend you.

A DUI lawyer is waiting to help you. New York Traffic Ticket Law can be very damaging to your driving record. My advice is: don’t pay that traffic ticket. Take a moment now to share a few details about your ticket here.  We always fight for the most favorable outcome and are always glad to have great results for our clients. Let us help you! Email us at michaelblocklawyer.com or call (212) 227-9008 to learn how we can defend you.

We fight tickets all over New York: Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Long Island.

*Photo Credit: “dazzled maniac Jim Morrison drowns out the haunting whimper of a coyote dying on the road by his dreadful death screen into the abyssal sun… HWY 01:23:47” By: Karl-Ludwig Poggeman”/Source: Flicrk

New York Lawyer: Traffic Ticket After a Car Accident

Traffic Ticket Issued After a Car Accident

Car accidents can involve personal injury and or property damage.  Calls from insurance companies, lawyers, hospital bills and costly car repairs make dealing with the aftermath of an accident unbearable.  To make matters worse, traffic tickets issued after an accident can seriously impact the cost of your insurance and determine which of the drivers is liable.

When a police officer is called to the scene, he will try to determine the facts surrounding the accident, and if possible, determine who caused the accident.  You may give your side of the story, but chose your words carefully.  Saying things like “I’m sorry” or “it was my fault” could damage you.  You also have the option to say nothing and only comply with handing the officer your license, registration and insurance.  Regardless of what you say or don’t say, the officer may still give you a ticket.  The types of tickets issued after accidents may include:

Traffic Ticket Points
Red light ticket 3 points
Following too closely (tailgating) 4 points
Reckless driving 5 points
Failure to yield right of way 3 points
Stop sign 3 points
Improper passing or changing lane unsafely 3 points
Driving in wrong direction or left of center 3 points
Leaving scene of property damage incident 3 points
Child safety restraint violation 3 points
Improper cell phone use 5 points
Use of portable electronic device (texting) 5 points
Speeding 3-11 points

Though there is a great deal of hassle associated with getting your car back on the road and sorting through the things that your insurance does and does not cover, a traffic ticket has serious ramifications which could negatively affect your license.  An experienced attorney could lower the points against your license or get rid of the charges altogether.  Call (212) 227-9008 or email MichaelBlock.law@gmail.com immediately for more information on how we could represent you.

*Photo Credit: “Accident” By: zooroo/Source: Flickr (modified)

Why is Uber so Successful?

Uber has successfully created more job opportunities and transportation opportunities for low-income neighborhoods, according to Economic Policy for the 21st Century.  Uber’s boom and success in garnering clients and faithful employees can be attributed to its partnerships and business model.

Since Uber is considered a ride-sharing company, their employees own their own vehicles and work as independent contractors.  This gives each employee more autonomy to work on their own schedule.  Technically, the Uber app is a tool that links drivers and passengers.  Drivers work with Uber instead of for Uber.  This makes ride-sharing an attractive employment opportunity.  Interestingly, the majority of Uber’s drivers work part time.  Reports also show that they’re highly satisfied.

Uber continues to grow and expand.  There were almost 9.5 million UberX rides last year and a 450 percent increase in monthly ride share from January to December in 2014.  Uber’s rapid growth is proof that they’re keeping clients and employees happy.

*Photo Credit: “Lincoln Town Car” By: Jason Lawrence/Source: Flickr

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Study Shows New Yorkers Run Red Lights 10% of the Time

A new study looked at the stop light habits of New York drivers and found a disturbing statistic: on average, 1 out of every 10 New Yorkers runs a red light. In addition, Cab drivers run red lights 15% of the time in New York City, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Queens.

The intersection with the most red light violations was Evergreen Avenue and Gates Avenue in Bushwick. Residents were not surprised by that statistic and called for measures such as red light cameras to be installed in the intersection.

Both men and women run red lights at the same rate, and the study also found that most red light violations occurred on Mondays. A red light ticket carries a fine and a penalty of 3 points on your driver’s license.

If you receive a red light ticket or any other traffic ticket in New York, please contact us immediately at 212-227-9008 to see how we may help you.

*Photo Credit: “Apparently traffic lights like coffee and donuts too!” By: Nicholas Eckhart/Source: Flickr

“Broken Windows” Gets More Weapons off the Street

On Sunday, Brooklyn police officers approached a group of 5 men who were drinking alcohol in public, a practice that is part of the “Broken Windows” style of policing that targets low-level offenses in the hopes of curbing more major crimes. In this instance, “Broken Windows” did its job as two of the men attempted to get rid of a knife and a firearm as the officers asked for their IDs. Both men were charged with possession of an illegal weapon, and the gun and the knife were both taken off the streets.

Some members of City Council claim that “Broken Windows” should be done away with because it clogs up the city’s judicial system, but Mayor de Blasio stands behind the policy and recent polls show that the majority of New Yorkers approve of this kind of quality-of-life policing.

What is your take on “Broken Windows?”

New York City Traffic Lawyer: Don’t Text and Drive!

New York City has seen a big increase in the amount of traffic tickets issued to drivers who talk or text while operating a vehicle. As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, New York State police conducted distracted driving crackdowns that targeted drivers using their cell phones, but the overall trend has seen more tickets issued for cell phone use. In fact, cell phone tickets made up almost 25% of all traffic tickets written in Manhattan in the first 3 months of 2015. This is a gigantic number, and drivers should be aware of the actions that can cause them to end up with a hefty fine and 5 points on their driver’s license.

When Drivers Use Cell Phones

State Farm recently conducted a survey on the cell phone habits of drivers. More than half of the drivers surveyed said they used their cell phones while stopped at a red light, while 30% of drivers said they used their cell phone while driving on an open highway. Many drivers stated that they do not use their cell phones if they are driving in inclement weather, through school or work zones, in heavy traffic, or if it is dark out.

What Drivers Do on Cell Phones

Surprisingly (or maybe not, actually), most drivers do not use their cell phones to actually talk to other people. Instead, most drivers text, email, surf the web, or check social media sites on their phones while driving. This is a very disturbing statistic, because these actions are possibly more distracting than talking on the phone. Studies have shown that when a person looks at their phone to read a text message, their eyes are off the road for an average of 5 seconds. In that time they can travel 50 yards, or half the length of a football field. That leaves an awful lot of time for the car ahead to slam on the brakes – something a driver looking at a text on their cell phone would never notice. The more ways smart phone technology advances, the more ways there are for drivers to become distracted.

Not Just Automobiles

There has recently been a push in the City Council to make cell phone use while riding a bicycle illegal. In fact, Park Slope leads the city in the amount of cell phone tickets issued to bike riders. However, New York’s cell phone law explicitly bans cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, which clearly excludes bicycles. The issue though is that cell phones are a distraction to both drivers and bike riders, since bicyclists can pose danger to pedestrians and themselves if they ride while distracted. Proponents of a cell phone ban for bike riders say such a law would be in line with Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program, and could cost bicyclists who break the law fines ranging from $50 to $200.

Fines and Penalties

New York has strict laws regarding cell phone use while operating an automobile. Fines and surcharges for cell phone tickets range from $138 to $288 for the first offense, while subsequent offenses within 18 months of the first range from $138 to $538. More importantly, cell phone tickets carry a penalty of 5 points on your driver’s license. In fact, if you receive a cell phone ticket in conjunction with any other moving violation, you can expect to pay the New York Driver Responsibility Assessment, which is given to drivers with more than 6 points on their license, in addition to fines and increased insurance premiums.

If you receive a traffic ticket for using a cell phone while operating an automobile, or if you receive traffic tickets for any other violations, please be sure to contact us at 212-227-9008 to see how we may help you.

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Brooklyn Neighborhood Leads in Cell Phone Tickets for Bike Riders

Park Slope leads the city in tickets issued to bicyclists who ride while using their cell phone – the problem is that there are no laws on the books that state bicyclists cannot use their cell phones. At a recent City Council hearing, a spokeswoman for the NYPD legal bureau argued that New York City’s cell phone ban applied to cyclists as well, even though the law clearly states that the operators of “motor vehicles” are banned from using cell phones while driving.

Even if the law is amended to include bicycles in the cell phone ban, bike riders would not be subject to the same penalties as drivers. A traffic ticket for using a cell phone while driving carries a hefty fine, but more importantly, it carries a penalty of 5 points on one’s driver’s license – the points are a huge motivation for drivers to put down their cell phones, as 5 points may increase their insurance premiums and will put them well on their way to a license suspension, which occurs at 11 points. Points cannot be added to a driver’s license for offenses committed while outside of a motor vehicle, so bike riders who text – just like jaywalkers – would not receive any points on their license.

If you receive a traffic ticket for using a cell phone while driving, or if you receive any other traffic tickets, please contact us at 212-227-9008 to see how we may help you.

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Brooklyn Traffic Ticket Lawyer: Consequences of Reckless Driving

A reckless driving ticket is one of the most damaging tickets you can receive in Brooklyn. Reckless driving is defined by New York law as “using any motor vehicle…in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” This leaves reckless driving open to interpretation by the police officer writing the ticket, but examples can be driving the wrong way, driving at extremely high speeds, or weaving in and out of lanes during times of heavy traffic.

Penalties
A reckless driving ticket in Brooklyn carries a penalty of 5 points, which is one of the highest point tickets in New York. But many people also do not realize that a reckless driving charge in Brooklyn is actually a misdemeanor offense. This means that a motorist charged with reckless driving cannot simply plead guilty and pay the fine, but an appearance must be made in criminal court. If convicted of reckless driving, the motorist will then have a criminal record.

The penalties for reckless driving in Brooklyn are $100 to $300 for the first offense, and while not likely, jail time is also a remote possibility. A Brooklyn traffic ticket lawyer will be able to advise you on the best course of action concerning your reckless driving ticket. The attorney may also be able to save you points in this charge.

Financial Impact
A reckless driving charge in Brooklyn can also have a severe impact on your auto insurance premiums. Insurance companies often view reckless driving convictions as being just as bad as DUI or DWI convictions, and will raise your premiums accordingly. So, in addition to the paying the reckless driving fine and the possibility of the NYS Driver Responsibility Assessment, you could also be forced to pay a lot of extra money over the years just to be able to keep driving. A Brooklyn traffic lawyer may be able to help you save your hard earned money instead of handing it over to your insurance company.

By working with a Brooklyn traffic ticket lawyer, you may be able to avoid the consequences of a reckless driving ticket and keep your driving and criminal record clean. In addition, a Brooklyn traffic lawyer can also usually appear in court without you to defend against reckless driving charges. If you have received a reckless driving ticket, or any other traffic ticket, please contact our office at 212-227-9008 to see how we can help you.