Dangerous road slime

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Anonymous's picture

Caution! I went down while riding on Amsterdam Ave after sliding over a patch of slippery food residue between a parked car and traffic. The waste was in front of the Silk Palace chinese restaurant between W 82nd and 83rd. A neighboring vendor, who gave paper towels to control my bleeding, said the restaurant is a repetive offender.

The police arrived and appeared to be indifferent about penalizing anyone or pressing charges, but did call an ambulance to check my injuries.

Hazardous road slime and a resulting accident is not an isolated incident and is a serious problem in this city.

Is there anything that can be done to enforce safety by fining or prosecuting restaurants and/or the sanitation people who leave dangerous patches of cooking grease and slippery rancid food slime on the curbside or road???

Anonymous's picture
Claudette (not verified)
Forget the Police; call a lawyer

My brother, Mike Lajam, is an attorney affiliated with a very aggressive personal injury firm. Email me and I will give you his contact information. One serious lawsuit and you'll be able to eat off of the sidewalk outside of that restaurant. Go and take some digital photos... would be best to get the restaurant employees in action, dumping the stuff. Photos of your injuries can also help, so have someone take some.

[email protected]

Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

How far from the curb does the grease generally extend?

I generally ride far from the curb for fear of dooring, being marginalized, etc.

If the grease tends not to extend into the second lane, one strategy would be make it a habit of keeping out of the parking lane. Bike messengers tend to ride in traffic. Being seen is half the battle. Getting run over after going down in grease might be incentive for being more assertive on the road.

Anonymous's picture
George Arcarola (not verified)

I've run into similar problems on W 13th Street when I ride to work. Hope you weren't too shken up.

Imagine what that stuff can do to your intestines.


Anonymous's picture
Hank Schiffman (not verified)

If the price of fuel rises much more, someone is going to organize and convert all that grease into biodiesel. The problem will solve itself.

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
Sue them.

Take pictures. Name the building's landlord a co-defendant.

It's no different than if you slipped on ice in the winter. They are responsible for maintaining the area in front of their establishment in a safe condition.

They can scrub spills and cover them with clay (kitty litter).


Happened to me once also. Middle of the road, down-grease from the America restaurant on West 15th Street. Five stitches to the chin.

The corner of Second Avenue, just north of 5th Street -- in the bike lane -- is also a grease spot from garbage bags breaking open.

Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
Oh, Please

>Name the building's landlord a co-defendant.
Oh please, that is just rediculous. Do you think the landlord has any control over his tenant? Do you think the landlord is responsible in any way? You are probably just suggesting suing the landlord because you figure it's an easy shot in NYC since juries hate landlords, but I'm telling you: it's wrong to sue someone who is not responsible just because you think you can get some money out of him.

>It's no different than if you slipped on ice in the winter. They are responsible for maintaining the area in front of their establishment in a safe condition.
Oh please. On my block, a woman slipped and fell on ice and sued the owner. The trial was going very well until evidence surfaced that showed the woman had slipped in front of a different house but had chosen to sue an owner who she felt had deeper pockets.
Slip-and-fall suits are a boondoggle for unscrupulous lawyers and constitute wrongful theft from home and property owners. Please grow up, get a regular job, make your own money, and don't try to steal it from someone else. That's what you're doing when you sue someone who isn't responsible for the damages you suffered.

Anonymous's picture
Natalia Lincoln (not verified)

I don't think this is about wringing money out of people, but safer roads. Unfortunately, sometimes people don't respond as well to moral imperatives as the threat of lawsuits....

Anonymous's picture
Claudette (not verified)

Landlords do have a responsibility for their tenants. If a landlord fails to control illegal activity (such as dumping cooking oils and food on the streets), then that landlord does, indeed, have a fiscal and moral obligation to take part in lawsuits when people are harmed by these actions.

Of course there is abuse of this. But when a cyclist is thrown under a car because a tenant is too cheap to pay for cooking oil disposal, then something needs to be done. And if landlords evict or refuse to lease to such tenants, the number of injuries and problems will diminish.


Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)

Amen! And Chaim, don't take such a sarcastic tact based on insufficient knowledge ;-)

Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
Oh Yeah?

"1. I was not sarcastic.
2. Based on what knowledge are you claiming I wrote ""based on insufficient knowledge""? You don't have any idea what knowledge and experience I have. It is you who is writing based on insufficient knowledge.

>Unfortunately, sometimes people don't respond as well to moral imperatives as the threat of lawsuits....
That may be, but there is reason to sue people who are not responsible and who have no control over the situation, unless you are trying to extort money.

>Landlords do have a responsibility for their tenants.
Based on what law? Have you ever been a landlord? Do you have any idea of the impossibility of a landlord trying to stop illegal activity on the part of a tenant? Yes, the landlord can refuse to renew a lease. If you think that is the proper response, then why advocate a lawsuit? You should advocate that the landlord not renew the tenant's lease.
I assume that disposing of cooking oil in the street is illegal and there might be merit to a suit against the company who disposed of the cooking oil this way, but not against the landlord.

Anonymous's picture
April (not verified)

It is the landlord who's responsible for the sidewalk in front of their building. So, if the restuarant keep dumping oil on it, the landlord had to hire someone to clean it up. Or risk being sued. I bet they won't re-new the lease after being sued once. That's the whole point.

Are landlords resposible for the road in front of their building? I don't know. But if they're not, they can easily get their name dropped from the suit.

Just because others abuse the court system doesn't mean people with legitimate case shouldn't sue. So what if the victim got some money as a result of their own misfortune??? Whoever own the restuarant/building should have thought about that before they dump the oil on the street!!!

Anonymous's picture
PLee (not verified)
Landlord's responsibility

I seem to recall that, during the Koch administration, a regulation was put in place that made the landlord responsible for cleaning the first 18 inches of the roadway fronting his property. I don't recall if it was ever challenged in court but I always thought that it was vulnerable to a challenge.

Anonymous's picture
Baruch (not verified)
18 inch rule

About two months ago I was being passed by a Sanitation Dept. supervisor car just as I was avoiding an patch of crushed glass on the road. I flagged him down to show him the hazard and to ask him how to get the city to clean it up. The supervisor said that SINCE IT WAS FURTHER THAN 18 INCHES FROM THE CURB, the debris was the CITY'S RESPONSIBILTY, and he then, on the spot, put in a call to have a street sweeper truck make a visit. Had it been less than 18 inches from the curb, so he said, it would have been the property owner's responsibility, and he could have issued a citation (or maybe he called it a violation?).

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)

"Practically speaking, the road grease comes from restaurant garbage bags set on the curb waiting for pickup.

The bags break open - rats, sharps edge inside, rough handling, etc. - and the contents spill onto the sidewalk and into the gutter.

Parked cars pulling out, track the grease onto the road and ""down-grease"" from the establishment. So you get slime patches for yards.

If the responsibility is to be fixed, it has to be on the restaurant to monitor its refuse and assign kitchen help to scrub and powder down the area before it migrates.

I see that being done by the restaurant near me. The area still gets slick from time to time, but not as bad as it would be without the effort.


Any landlord would almost certainly have a clause in its commercial lease whereby the tenant indemnifies the owner against claims resulting from it's business operations. Naming the landlord as a co-respondent in a lawsuit would basically be to get their attention.

In any case, I think ""directly attributable"" would trump ""18 inches"" if it came to a lawsuit."

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous Cow (not verified)

The building owner, not any tenant, suffers the liability of sidewalk slips and falls, so it's not inconceivable that the same logic could be brought to bear in a food-oil slick tort.

I'm not advocating suing anyone, but the limits of the liability are not apparent to me. And it seems that the jist of most torts is sue first, ask questions later.

- Christian

Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
two scenarios

Here's another scenario that will potentially make the landlord negligent in some part. The landlord leased the space that is not zoned for restaurant use or does not meet the local ordinances for such use, i.e. grease pits/traps are required.

Another scenario is a turn-key lease that includes the lessor to provide waste/rubbish removal. Perhaps the landlord cut corners and stopped paying the garbage carting company.

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)
Read and learn.

"Chaim, your ""Oh please"" is simply sarcastic. Simple.

And your insufficient knowledge is apparent in your post. Change transpires when there is financial pressure. You were not aware of this, yet sought to propound. Claudette showed you your error. The landlord is as responsible as the tenant, legally and morally ... and yes, financially.

Yet, you continue to oraculate and further underscore your insufficient knowledge. You are quite simply mistaken and your efforts at self-justification highlight both your mistake and your reluctance to quit while not too far behind.

It's all quite simple. It is how the system works. I'm not seeking to argue for the hell of it. I am experienced in these matters. Lawsuits work changes because they affect the pocketbooks of those involved. Simple. I am sure you could educate me on topics where you have more knowledge.

So there :=0"

Anonymous's picture
Claudette (not verified)

Wouldn't it me emailculate? Howzabout postculate?

Anonymous's picture
JP (not verified)


Anonymous's picture
Chaim Caron (not verified)
Apology to Neile

I am apologizing for flaming you earlier in this thread about suing. I'm sorry I wrote so harshly. I know you, I've ridden with you, I like you, I know you're a good guy, I'm very sorry I blew my stack. I do feel strongly about frivolous lawsuits, but still I'm sorry I wrote in such strong terms, I should not have. Please accept my apology.

Anonymous's picture
Neile (not verified)
It's nothing, friend. Be well. See you on the road. (nm)
Anonymous's picture
<a href="http://www.OhReallyOreilly.com">Peter O'Reilly</a> (not verified)
Definitely not an isolated incident

Another club member, Annaline D. had taken a greasy spill and broke her ankle earlier this year.

Anonymous's picture
Jay (not verified)
Mott St is the worst!

The all night rides used to get to Chinatown around 4 AM--the street was a sea of slime flavored with some MSG.

Anonymous's picture
esass (not verified)
Road Slime in Wash Heights

Friday, I had the same situation at Bway and 158th going southbound. Going to make the right onto 158th the bike went out from under me. I had no injuries and the bike was not damaged. I called 311 and they said DEP would investigate.

This morning it was worse with actual food residue.

The waste was in the 1st traffic lane.

Anonymous's picture
bill vojtech (not verified)

I knew there was a reason I gave up city riding for the most part.

Anonymous's picture
Sarit Levy (not verified)
Let's talk to them first

I hope you're okay, Gary.

Before any lawsuits, let's try talking to people. They may be willing to make changes.

Call the restaurant owner and building owner to complain and follow up to see if it helps?

If not, you should call the city councilmember of that district and hopefully his/her office will send a sanitation violation officer to the location to issue a fine.

Bicyclists who have these kinds of accidents should post the name of the restaurant and name of building owner contact info and we can make a group effort of calls to complain.

cycling trips