New York Daily News - November 30 2011 - By John Doyle
A Walk In The Park - November 22, 2011
Coney Island’s fabled beachfront just got hit with a huge wave -- a crime wave.
Authorities are investigating a recent string of at least five seaside crimes at lifeguard stations and other city Parks Department-run facilities, including burglaries, vandalism and a suspected arson, according to the New York Post.
The boardwalk’s main bathroom facility at Stillwell Avenue – which came under fire in July after the Post busted workers rationing toilet paper there – was closed for days for repairs before recently reopening after saboteurs on Nov. 18 cut a series of electrical power lines and wires under the boardwalk, causing a loss of power.
Two days earlier on Nov. 16, burglars cut through a locked door at a boardwalk utility room on West 5th Street and stole 30 feet of electrical wire, which can be sold for big bucks because of the copper inside, NYPD sources said.
The next day a suspicious boardwalk fire broke out at lifeguard station and bathrooms at West 33rd Street. It took 60 firefighters to put out the blaze but not before the most of the station and its rescue equipment were destroyed.
FDNY sources said someone cut a padlock to get in and that fire marshals are investigating it as arson.
On Nov. 4, a burglar attempted to break into a West 16th lifeguard station but failed to pry open a locked gate.
Geoffrey Croft of the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates blamed the crimes on a lack of cops and peace officers assigned to monitor beaches and other parkland – especially overnight.
“There’s no enforcement of our park facilities, and it is worse overnight,” he said.
The Parks Department says it is working with NYPD to address the vandalism.
Hey — I’m cycling here!
An irate pedal pusher claims she was hurt after slamming into a pedestrian — who had the audacity to step into the bike path in which she was rolling in Central Park, according to the New York Post.
Incredibly, the cyclist is now suing the pedestrian she hit, in a lawsuit that shows just how heated the turf wars between the city’s booming biking population and everyone else has become.
The walker’s elbow was shattered in the resulting collision, but bike-riding triathlete Sabine von Sengbusch, 46, contends she’s the injured party.
Von Sengbusch, a health-care administrator and marathoner, insists she was using the utmost care on her 6:30 a.m. ride on the park’s looping Upper East Side bike trail.
She argues that the pedestrian, lawyer Meghan Rohan, 28, caused the June 15 crash when she recklessly walked into the bike lane near 69th Street and East Drive.
The athlete claims she suffered “great physical pain and mental anguish” after the crash, was unable to work, and was left with “painful and permanent” injuries — even though finished in second at an Oct. 1 triathlon in Montauk, LI.
State law gives pedestrians the right of way, but Von Sengbusch is seeking unspecified damages in her head-scratcher of a lawsuit.
Longtime personal-injury lawyer Susan Karten, who is not involved in the case, called the biker’s suit “outrageous” and “disgraceful.”
“The bicyclist has the obligation to watch out for pedestrians — it’s not the other way around,” she said. “I’ve never heard of such a thing. It’s like a pedestrian getting hit by a car, and the [motorist] suing the pedestrian and saying, ‘You didn’t get out of the way.’ ”
With 10,000 bikes set to flood the streets next year under the city’s proposed bike-sharing program, cyclists are asserting their right to share the road — while pedestrians just try to survive.
Yesterday at 69th and East Drive, Heather Meissner’s 7-year-old daughter, Celia, nearly got creamed while struggling to ride her small bike as cyclists whizzed by her.
“They ride in groups, they don't stay in their lanes, they cut you off, and they scream at you to move,” fumed Meissner, 44. “Even when we’re on our bikes they scream at us, because they are faster.”
Dancer Chuck Davis, 42, a daily park visitor, agreed, saying “they’ve taken over. They curse you out and don’t even slow down. It’s really dangerous.”
Rohan’s lawyer, Louis Adolfsen, said the cyclist’s suit was unusual.
“The idea that someone would sue you, when they hit you with a bike, seems to me unthinkable,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
A recent study by two Hunter College professors found at least 1,000 bike-pedestrian accidents every year statewide, with most concentrated in the five boroughs.
Cyclists aren’t the only ones who should watch out, one peeved Central Park rider told The Post.
“Pedestrians drive me up the f--king wall,” Edmund Bogen said. “They don’t get out of my way. Some of them don’t look when they are stepping into the street. They need to be aware that a bike can be, and often is, more dangerous than a car.”