Thursday, June 18, 2015

Who was at fault in death of Cresskill teen on bicycle?

On Summit Street in Englewood Cliffs, these two women and other domestic workers must walk in the roadway, exposed to potential injury from drivers, many of whom exceed the speed limit. In Bergen County's backward home-rule communities, too many streets lack sidewalks, bicycle lanes and other measures to protect residents and visitors from being injured or killed in accidents.


Another poorly reported and edited accident story in The Record today leaves many questions about who was at fault in the death of a Cresskill Middle School student riding his bicycle to school on Wednesday morning.

A story on the Local front reports Young Rok Lee, 13, "collided with a truck" that was turning from Jefferson Avenue onto Grant Avenue, not far from the middle school.

But an update posted on North this afternoon contradicts the print edition, reporting "a tractor-trailer collided with him, ... according to police." 

On L-1, the print edition says Lee, who was wearing a helmet, "made contact with the back driver's side of the tractor-trailer."

Yet the photo with the story shows investigators lifting up a sheet on the other side of the trailer.

Botched story

Two reporters, Deena Yellin and Stefanie Dazio, worked on the story, but neither went to the scene.

Dazio, an overworked police reporter who is chained to a telephone, is supervised by lazy and clueless editors in the Woodland Park newsroom who have botched too many fatal accident stories to mention.

This wouldn't be an issue if local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza didn't rely on police, court and accident stories and photos so heavily when they fail to find any legitimate municipal news to fill their section every day (see L-1 to L-6 today).

Of course, the Lee family likely will hire a lawyer who will file a negligence suit against the driver, owner of the tractor-trailer and possibly the borough of Cresskill for allowing such a large vehicle on Jefferson and Grant avenues.

In a comment below the story on North, Liz DeRuchie, a transportation planner says:
"Unless he was doing a delivery, that truck was illegally on those residential streets. Very busy at that time of the day with several schools within a block and crossing guards at every intersection. These are side streets with weight restrictions. I want to know why that sized truck was on those streets. So tragic."

Antiquated streets

Today's sloppily reported story doesn't say whether Grant Avenue or any other street in wealthy Cresskill has a bicycle lane or other measures to protect students and others who ride bikes.

In general, Bergen County's antiquated streets, roads and highways are narrow and hazardous, creating too many potential conflicts among drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

And despite levying some of the highest property taxes in the nation, many municipalities do a poor job of installing bicycle lanes, maintaining crosswalks, adding speed bumps, and creating turn lanes to speed the flow of traffic and cut air pollution.

For example, Forest Avenue in Paramus is a four-lane road where drivers often exceed the 40 mph speed limit and cut each other off to avoid getting stuck behind turning vehicles.

Today, as I was driving back to Hackensack, I was shocked to see a young couple walking in the roadway because a short stretch of Forest didn't have any sidewalk.

Doom and gloom

What is Editor Martin Gottlieb's excuse for today's doom-and-gloom front page, the kind of sensationalism you'd expect from a New York tabloid?

The main story reports drug overdoes were the leading cause of accidental death in New Jersey in 2014, claiming twice as many lives as auto crashes.

Let's hope lazy Sykes and Sforza don't start running photos of the homes where these deaths are taking place or where police use a rescue drug to save people "in the throes of an overdose" (A-1).

Big error

The Record acknowledged a major error on Wednesday's A-2, correcting a Page 1 story on Tuesday that said public schools face flat state funding for a seventh year.

The correction quoted the New Jersey Treasury Department as saying "state aid to schools is expected to increase from $8.5 billion in 2010 to a proposed $9 billion for the 2015-16 school year."

Church massacre

Let's hope The Record and other media play up the inadequacy of our gun laws and call for reform in reporting today's massacre at a historic church in Charleston, S.C.

The easy availability of guns is a national disgrace.

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