Sian Green from England, 23 years old, was so excited about her first trip to New York that she counted down on Instagram. Add to that the usual images of longing: street canyons full of yellow cabs. And then it all came a bit quickly and differently than planned. On her first day, on the sidewalk in front of Rockefeller Center, Green was run over by a taxi and the young woman’s leg was cut off.
The driver, a young man from Bangladesh, had raced up Sixth Avenue, harassed a bicycle messenger, who had knocked the taxi with his fist on the fender in the hearty New York style, which in turn enraged the driver, ” Road Rage “is the name of the game in America, but the driving schools have their own educational films, he accelerates, cuts the bicycle courier, loses control, flies over a concrete barrier – and meets Sian Green.
The whole thing would be tragic local news if it weren’t so absolutely and depressingly typical in every way. One of the world‘s most famous New York landmarks, the yellow taxi, is in a serious crisis. This crisis has an aesthetic level, an economic, a social, an ecological and one that has to do with the desire for the integrity of life and limb. And this crisis also tells something about the striking revaluation of all values in a city, to which its values are actually sacred.
For example, there were times here when you called a taxi because you were too unsafe to walk. Today walking is unsafe because of the taxis. So high the houses, so yellow the streets – the yellow cabs have been branded into the iconography of the city since they were given their color in the 1960s for better visibility. Overworked and overtired drivers without local knowledge have also been part of the overall picture since immigrants in particular took over the job that was considered dangerous in the seventies.
Today, however, you can be happy if you just catch a chat bag looking backwards, like the one Armin Mueller-Stahl in Night on Earth played, or a moral bomb that ticks but at least closely follows the action like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. And not someone who, still completely at home in Dhaka, pounds around in his navigation system while driving to find the way from 10th to 20th street. And at the height of the 15th then loses his nerve.
Robert De Niro also sat in a Checker Car, Armin Mueller-Stahl in a Chevrolet. Was it a caprice? The model was a bit old, but: spacious. The unfortunate Bangladeshis, on the other hand, sit cooped up in absurdly narrow and also absurdly unsightly vehicles, where it is no wonder that they lose their nerve. One has never seen stretch limo drivers lose their nerve.