A horrific crash involving a New York City cab that injured a bicyclist and severed a pedestrian's foot raises fresh questions about the competence and training of drivers behind one of the most ubiquitous vehicles on Manhattan streets.
I know. I was involved in more than one incident involving a taxi cab as an avid bicyclist and as a motorist, including a hit-and-run accident. A taxi-cab driver ran a stop sign and sideswiped my car, then brazenly drove off when he saw me getting out of my car.
Most New Yorkers have their own horror stories, tell them below in the comment section. Few, however, will likely match the accident below Rockefeller Center today (Aug. 20).
Sian Green, a 23-year-old tourist from Great Britain was struck by a cab that severed her foot after the car swerved to avoid a bicyclist. She was taken to Bellvue Hospital. The bike rider was also injured but not seriously.
While the incident highlighted the dangers of errant cab drivers, it also illustrated the selflessness of New Yorkers.
After the crash, construction worker David Justino, a 44-year-old plumber, made a life-saving tourniquet out of his belt to stop profuse bleeding for the woman's leg.
A hotdog vendor, Mohammed Elsayed, put her severed foot on ice, increasing the chances doctors can reattach it, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Even, Dr. Mehmet Oz got into the act. He tapes his syndicated health show nearby and helped oversee the woman's medical treatment until an emergency services crew arrived, according to The New York Daily News.
In my own experience, I was cut off numerous times by taxi cabs making a right hand turn while I was riding my bike on 2nd and Third Aves. The drivers either never looked to see if I was there, or didn't care.
On a couple of occasions I had to slam on the brakes put my hand on the cab to avoid a collision and had turn right along side of the cab.
An acquaintance of mine wasn't so lucky. He was hit by a cab from behind while riding his bike on a narrow Upper East Side street. He was knocked off his bike. The cabbie fled the scene, leaving him lying unconscious in the street.
Again, compassionate New Yorkers came to his aid. He suffered a concussion and bumps and bruises, but never learned who hit him.
In my hit-and-run case, I was quick-thinking enough to get the cabbie's license number and reported it to the police. Even so, he was never prosecuted and the cab company stonewalled my insurance company for weeks.
After several previous bad experiences, my insurer was determined not to let the company off the hook and finally forced them to pay for the damages.
According to eyewitnesses, the cabbie in the Rockefeller Centre accident accelerated after hitting the cyclist, who flew up onto the hood. The cab then slammed into a fountain where Green was sitting with a friend.
Proper training could avoid many of these accidents. Mayor Bloomberg would do everyone a favor if he made frequent safe driving courses mandatory for cab drivers.