Every New Yorker’s Worst Nightmare Came True Today

Looks friendly, unless you do dumb things near it.
Looks friendly, unless you do dumb things near it.

Last night, 51-year-old Edward Leonard got caught in an F train door and was dragged to his death as he attempted to board a car at the Kew Gardens station.

This is, perhaps, every New Yorker’s worst nightmare.

The older I get, the more of a frightened ninny I have turned into, and the more I fear sudden death via everyday scenarios. I used to shake my head when my grandma told me to be careful walking to the drugstore one block from her house—but I totally get that now. My fear of a sudden death has only increased since a Fort Greene pedestrian was killed last December by a reckless driver while she strolled in the very center of a Fulton Street sidewalk. If rule-followers aren’t safe, none of us really ever are.

That said, we can be smart about how we move through the city. Actually, that is all we can do. In light of last night’s awful event, and countless other freak accidents that occur almost daily in the city—many of which involve buses, and the less likely but still dangerous crane—I will take this opportunity, and take up my overly-protective grandmother’s mantle at risk of sounding like a person scared of leaving her house, to offer this New York City safety-check PSA. Because more often than not, the worst accidents happen in totally average places.

  1. Never board a train whose doors are closing. Seriously, never. Missing five minutes of a meeting is nothing compared to missing every day from here on out.
  2. Similarly: Why would you hang out on the platform edge, covered in those little round domes? Those domes are uncomfortable to walk on, and are meant to keep your feet off of them.
  3. Don’t walk in the bus lane. Buses are very big. It doesn’t take much for one to take you out. It stinks that they take up the most attractive part of the street to walk on (which you should not be doing), but we have attractive places to walk, too, sidewalks.
  4. You know those swinging doors that cover cellars in sidewalks? They are everywhere, and sometimes those doors don’t stay locked. I understand I sound extra paranoid here, but a friend of mine was almost paralyzed by falling down one of them whose door was busted. So, why not avoid those doors if you can.
  5. It’s been snowing, which is wintry and great, but that means subway grates are very slippery. I know, it’s tempting to walk there because warm air rising from below clears an attractive path for you to walk right over the tops of them. But as mentioned, they’re slippery. May as well avoid a painful tumble.
  6. This is probably the absolute hardest thing for every single person who lives in New York to follow: not crossing the street when the walking-man is red. I get that it is almost embarrassing to stay put on the curb when there are no cars coming, and nobody ever obeys those signals. Not walking is to self- and conspicuously identify as a non-New Yorker. But, try to get over it? Cars are literally given the green light to drive where you walk, so they will hit you if neither one of you are looking.
  7. Take your earbuds out while crossing streets. Re. numero six, hearing oncoming traffic is just as essential as seeing it, in order to avoid its path.
  8. Don’t walk under air conditioners. It’s winter so you’re safe for a bit. But all I know is that my yearly AC install never seems very stable. And, once, a guy did actually die from a plunging unit.

Yes, everything on this list is very obvious, but it’s precisely that reason that each one bears repeating. We are blind to that which is normal and everywhere. Creating a city of paranoid recluses is not what I’m after. Just one with fewer freak accidents. Thank you, you may now resume your safe(r) day.



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