Transportation Alternatives Demand Safer Roads In Brooklyn

Brooklyn           Another bicyclist has been struck and killed on the streets of New York City.

It happened around 9 a.m. at 35th Street and Third Avenue in the Greenwood Heights section of Brooklyn. According to police, 30-year-old Em Samolewicz swerved to avoid a van door that was opening and went into traffic, where she was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer truck.

Samolewicz was pronounced dead on arrival at Lutheran Hospital. No charges have been filed, police say no criminality was involved.

The driver of the van told WABC TV Darla Miles he feels terrible.

“It is AGAINST the law to open a car door into the path of a cyclist. Our lives are in each other’s hands. We must act like it,” Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter. “Rising cyclist fatalities are a crisis. We will do everything in our power to stop them.”

“Pay attention. Drivers must pay attention to make sure that they will be able to see there is not a cyclist coming,” said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who lives a block away from the scene of the accident.

“It’s scary just to think about the possibility that my life is on the line every time I bike ride just to go to work,” cyclist Miguel Gomez told Simon Gifter. “I’ve been doored plenty of times. I’ve been doored, like, four times. Luckily, I don’t ride that fast just because I want to be safe, but yeah, it’s a scary thing. It happens all the time.”

Bike advocates say the area where the accident happened is a deadly corridor.

“Third Avenue, which has eight lanes for cars and none for bikes, is a product of a bygone era when transportation decisions were made with the sole intention of moving as many vehicles as possible through our neighborhoods, without regard to the people living and working in those neighborhoods. The danger is compounded by the Gowanus Expressway looming overhead, and the poor visibility at intersections caused by the elevated highway’s support structures and the acres upon acres of land beneath where people store cars and trucks. Dangerous driver behavior in this neighborhood shouldn’t be surprising; the environment suggests that this corridor belongs to the cars, and if you must ride a bike on this street, you do so at your own risk,” said Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives Ellen McDermott.

The crash took place just a few blocks away from where Hugo Garcia was struck and killed on Jan. 1. In that incident, a car door was also opened into the cyclist’s path.

“Now that we have seen two tragic cycling deaths and one pedestrian death on Third Avenue in 2019, we expect the Department of Transportation will take swift action to amend the new Green Wave plan to include a redesign of this deadly corridor. But we must not stop there. Serious problems — like people dying on our streets — demand serious solutions. This city and region need to have a serious discussion about removing the elevated highways that create such lethal car-dominated environments,” McDermott said.

There have now been eighteen cyclists deaths on city streets so far this year:

  • Jan. 1 – Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia, 26, was killed on Third Avenue near East 28th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
  • Jan. 4 – Hector Ayala, 41, was killed on Linden Boulevard near Crescent Street in East New York, Brooklyn.
  • Jan. 26 – Susan Moses, 63, was killed at Kings Highway and Van Sicklen Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
  • Feb. 4 – Joseph Chiam, 72, was killed by a tractor-trailer truck at 8th Avenue and 45th Street in Midtown, Manhattan. The driver took off.
  • Feb. 28 – Aurilla Lawrence, 25, was killed at Broadway and Rodney Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • March 14 – Robert Spencer, 53, was killed at Borden Avenue and Second Street in Long Island City, Queens.
  • April 17 – Pedro Tepozteco, 26, was killed on 47th Street near 17th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
  • April 27 – Victor Ang, 74, was killed on 11th Avenue near West 30th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan.
  • May 11 – Kenichi Nakagawa, 22, was killed at Dean Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
  • May 12 – Robert Sommer, 29, was killed by a car on Avenue U between Burnett and East 33rd streets in Marine Park, Brooklyn.
  • May 15 – Yisroel Schwartz, 16, was killed at 17th Avenue and 53rd Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
  • June 9 – Mohammed Abdullah, 29, was killed by a car at Avenue D and 105th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated with her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat.
  • June 24 – Robyn Hightman, 20, was killed by a tractor-trailer truck at West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue. The driver was cited for equipment violations.
  • June 27 – Ernest Askew, 57, was killed by a car at Chester Street and Sutter Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
  • July 1 – Devra Freelander, 28, was killed by a cement truck at Boerum Street and Bushwick Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • July 23 – Alex Cordero, 17, was killed by tow truck at Castleton Avenue and Clove Road in the West Brighton section of Staten Island.
  • July 23 – A 58-year-old man was killed by a box truck at McGuiness Boulevard and Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
  • July 29 – A 30-year-old woman was killed by a tractor-trailer at 35th Street and Third Avenue in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn.

Transportation alternatives statements on Monday’s tragic incident:

The tragic spate of deaths prompted de Blasio to unveil a new “Green Wave” bike safety plan. 

Fifty-three percent of cyclist fatalities citywide in 2019 has resulted from crashes with trucks — a percentage that has risen since the mayor’s Vision Zero plan launched in 2014.

New York City Department Of Transportation commissioner Trottenberg noted that the spike in deaths is “really very heavy” in Brooklyn.

The mayor’s new plan will increase the pace of bike lane construction to 30 miles of protected bike lanes per year as opposed to the current pace of 20 miles per year. It will cause the removal of “thousands” of private parking spaces, according to Trottenberg. This is making drivers mad. Business owners say they are losing money and with lack of normal truck deliveries, they are being forced out of the city.  Transporation alternative advocates disagree and say statistics show revenue has gone up for businesses that have bicycle lanes. This is up for debate.

As part of the new plan, a protected bike lane is slated to be constructed on Fourth Avenue between First Street and 60th Street in Sunset Park, one avenue over from where Monday’s cyclist was struck.  Cyclists are advised to use bicycle lanes and not veer off routes for convenience.  Safety is a top priority for drivers and cyclists alike.

NYPD must step up enforcement for drivers and cyclists that are breaking laws.

While covering Monday’s tragic story I saw drivers weaving in and out of traffic in an unsafe manner and without blinkers on.  I also observed cyclists riding on the sidewalk and nearly hitting media people setting up equipment for their news story.  Summonses should be given in a fair way and focused on safety and not revenue.

Share your ideas and concerns in the comment section.


Source: GifterInGotham- WABC TV- CBS2 -NYPD


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