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Billyburgers boycott black cabs

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North Brooklyn residents are striking back after a hit and run accident injured a cyclist by boycotting a cab company that they say is disrespectful, discourteous, and downright dangerous.

The Sept. 10 crash, which hospitalized the bike rider, has sparked a boycott of Northside Car Service, a Bedford Avenue taxi company that dispatches 136 black cabs to Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick.

The victim of the crash was commuting on Kent Avenue last Wednesday morning when an oncoming Northside cab made an “irrationally fast turn” onto North Seventh Street, said Marin Pockman — a friend of the cyclist — in a widely circulated e-mail.

To avoid colliding with the cab, the biker slammed on the brakes, went over the handlebars, and broke his collarbone and elbow, Pockman said.

The cab did not stop.

A witness identified the car as a Northside vehicle and said that the victim had the right of way, but there is some confusion on that issue, said Northside employee Galo Bermello.

“According to the driver, he was waiting for the bicyclist to keep on going, but he didn’t go — so the driver went,” he added.

Bermello was unsure if — or why — the cabbie drove away.

“Leaving the scene? We don’t really know anything about it,” said Bermello.

That didn’t satisfy Pockman, the injured cyclist’s friend.

“I’m concerned about Northside’s behavior and I’m concerned about how they reacted to that accident,” said Pockman, who started the boycott and urged neighbors to refuse service from the cab company, in order to “speak out against Northside and make them accountable for the hit and run.”

Neighbors have been concerned about the “rogue” taxi company before.

In 2005, Community Board 1 sent a letter to Northside urging drivers not to honk their horns when they pick up passengers, and not to idle in front of Northside’s Bedford Avenue dispatching office, where the cars blocked a bus stop.

“If we continue to hear complaints about Northside Car Service, we will take those complaints into consideration when it is time for us to review your license renewal application,” the letter stated.

Bermello, the Northside employee, insisted that drivers idle in front of the dispatching office for no more than a few seconds at a time, and that cabbies need to honk their horns to alert passengers because the company is too busy to call each fare individually.

But the grievances against Northside have not only continued — they’ve gotten worse, said Teresa Toro, chair of the board’s Transportation committee.

“I hear numerous, complaints about reckless driving — defined by rolling through stop signs, speeding, and not yielding the right of way to pedestrians,” she said.

In the days following the accident, the driver met with the cyclist and settled his medical expenses, but Pockman and others are continuing the boycott.

The Sept. 10 crash occurred on the same day that Jonathan Millstein, 50, was killed in Park Slope when he was run over by a school bus while cycling, and just four days after Alexander Toulouse, 8, was killed by a postal truck on his bike.

The scene of the Kent Avenue crash is on a part of the neighborhood’s hotly contested greenway — a planned protected bike lane that would connect waterfront communities from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.

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Reader Feedback

Michael from Bay Ridge says:
The driver of this taxi should lose his license and be banned from driving in new york ever again. Killing a pedestrian or a bicyclist is really one of the worst things a driver can do, and there ought to be a sever penalty for this. Both to punish the driver and to remind other drivers that this is a really serious affair.
There is a blatant disregard for the safety of bicyclists on brooklyn streets, and frankly I am tired of it.
Awareness of bicyclists should be a larger part of the classes drivers have to take in order to get a license.
Sept. 16, 2008, 7:52 am
mike from cobble hill says:
not to blame the individual victims in these cases, but anyone walking, driving or biking in north brooklyn is certainly aware of the danger posed by bikers to themselves and others. ENFORCE THE RULES ON THE BIKERS!
Sept. 16, 2008, 7:57 am
abr from brooklyn says:
is the hasidic rabbi isaac abraham ruunig for councilmember for williamsburg ?

the ny post

Abraham later said another major concern is the safety of children, noting that cyclists "aren't obeying traffic laws. Green lights and red lights are the same
Sept. 16, 2008, 11:16 am
Jennifer from formerly of Brooklyn says:
I used Northside many, many times when I lived in the 'Burg. They are TERRIBLE. Their drivers ignore all laws, speed, talk on the phone, pretty much everything they aren't supposed to do. I really think they just hire any low-income person they can find and put him or her behind the wheel. I hope they go out of business.
Sept. 16, 2008, 12:48 pm
meowster from Williamsburg says:
The fact that the guy left the scene should not go unnoticed.That is wrong and he should face criminal charges in addition to taking care of this guys medical costs.

On another note, and let me preface this by saying that I do not own a car (I bike and walk). When i walk to work in the morning on the Williamsburg Bridge I witness outrageous behavior by about 50% of bike riders. Most of this occurs at the base, where there is a mix of people (pedestrians, crossing guard, bikers) trying to use the crosswalk (note: it's called a cross WALK). Everyday I am buzzed, yelled at, whistled at and almost struck by bikers coming down the bridge at 30-35 mph while I stand on the sidewalk in front of the crosswalk waiting to cross the street. Half of the bikers do not slow down and jump the curb on the crosswalk because they don't feel like being safe before they zip out onto Delancey. This really needs to stop if bikers want to be taken seriously by anyone. Come on guys, let's not treat each other (esp. us with the same perspective ) like —— and work together. You know who you are.
Sept. 16, 2008, 3:04 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
I agree with posters that say that bicycle riders should obey the rules. They should. But pedestrians and bikers are more vulnerable than people in cars and will suffer more if there is an accident, so the car drivers need to be more careful. We obviously think this because car dirvers are required to get licenses and take exams to prove that they are qualified to operate potentially life threatening vehicles, whereas anyone can bike or walk.
Further I think that it would be easier for bikers to follow the rules if there were better lanes built for them and more publicity (maybe pamphlets?) saying exactly what the rules are - for both cars and bikers.
I think most people don't actually know what the rules are, that they just kind of guess based on what sounds good to them.
Sept. 18, 2008, 8:28 am
Miles from Williamsburg says:
Both the Cyclist and Northside are wrong.
The injured man on the bike probally was riding his bike like everyone else total disregard for traffic laws.
Northside car service, this is normal behavior for them.
These problems have been going on for at least the last 10-15 yrs. When Northside was at there old location on the otherside of Bedford Avenue these problems exsisted.
Until the TLC or until someone gets hurt seriously and killed as a result of the drivers doing what they want these problems will continuie.
Boycoting Northside is probally good. I've been boycoting them myself for years. I never used there service.
I perfer to arrive at my destnation alive not dead
Sept. 20, 2008, 10:14 pm
greenpoint ray from williamsburg says:
i feel bad for the biker if he really did get hit by the car service, but i have to say that in williamsburg especially ... the bikers ride around as if they own the roads entirely and everyone one else doesn't exist..
i cant tell you how many times bikers just drive into the intersection expecting everyone to avoid them, and the people with the ipod on one ear and the cell phone on the other are like dead people riding..
why are the so indignant?
Oct. 13, 2008, 10:23 pm
bb from northside willbrg says:
i take taxi's daily. i've lived in san francisco, westchester county, queens, and nyc. NORTHSIDE TAXI is the WORST taxi company i have ever run across. they overcharge, drive reckless, and act as though they are against the local community, instead of working with.

i can't tell you the level of umprofessionalism i have witnessed- from unbreathable sitting conditions due to body odor or passing of gas (i had to drive with my head out the window) to overuse of cologne in the vehicle... the drivers are unqualified, unprofessional, and usually creepy.
April 2, 2009, 1:02 pm
maria davis from williamsburg says:
i feel there should be more laws regarding the behavior of these drivers. i have witnessed how they take over the street parking areas and save spaces for one another weaving in and out and causing potential danger to people including chidren living in the area. i have seen them sit in their cars while leaving them running and this went on for hours...leave bottles of urine along the curb and hang out on steps at even odd hours of homes wherer people live where they should not be loitering. during the day when needing shade they will park their cars and sit on steps to entrances. this is dangerous given all the rapes and other things happening. they should not be allowed to take up so much space in a commercial manner nor be able to wtch who enters and leaves their home by loitering...nor should anyone have to enter their home worring if this stranger is going to push a way in. calling the police has not been effective nor the 611 number. comercial cars should have a paid for commercial driveway where they wait for calls. also, there were times when i was blocked in due to double parking and had to wait until a driver was found...and times when i could not find a spot to park and circled and cirpled while the drivers played their games of saving spaces and keeping their drivers in an order of who gets the next call. there is a driver culture out there that interferes with the residential general needs and rights. safety is first.
Feb. 8, 2011, 10:53 am

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