Two Brooklyn cyclists killed in one week
by Benjamin Fang
Jul 31, 2019 | 1047 views | 0 0 comments | 73 73 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two bicyclists were fatally struck by trucks in Brooklyn over the last week, marking the 17th and 18th biker deaths this year.

On July 23 at 4 p.m., police responded to the scene at McGuinness Boulevard and Norman Avenue, where an unidentified 58-year-old man was struck by a box truck.

The cyclist was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. According to the NYPD, no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

The incident occurred just hours after a teenage cyclist was killed by a truck driver in Staten Island.

After those two deaths, Thomas DeVito, senior director of advocacy with Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement that Staten Island has “almost no protected bike lanes,” while McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint “resembles a highway.”

“These crashes are tragic examples of what happens in a city that purports to welcome cyclists, but fails to dedicate protected space for bikes on the vast majority of its streets,” he said. “If we are going to eliminate traffic deaths, we must not tolerate broad thoroughfares like McGuinness Boulevard that cater solely to cars and trucks.”

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol then announced the following day that he would allocate $1 million in state funding to the Department of Transportation (DOT) to implement “immediate roadway safety infrastructure” for cyclists and motorists in his district, which includes Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill.

“I am sickened by the escalating number of deaths and injuries to cyclists, pedestrians and drivers in New York City,” Lentol said in a statement. “We must devise and implement safety solutions to reverse this trend and protect everyone on the road.”

Lentol also urged DOT to explore solutions like improved travel patterns, better bike lane barriers, and use of electronic signage to alert motorists when they enter an area extensively used by cyclists.

“North Brooklyn needs additional protected bicycle lanes in high usage streets,” he said. “My measures seek to find solutions for the challenges of road sharing.”

On Monday, yet another cyclist was killed, this time in Sunset Park. At about 8:40 a.m., police arrived at 3rd Avenue between 35th and 36th streets to find 30-year-old Em Samolewicz lying in the roadway with “severe trauma about the body,” police said.

She was taken to NYU Langone Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

A preliminary investigation by the NYPD Highway Unit’s Collision Investigation Squad found that Samolewicz was traveling northbound on 3rd Avenue when she attempted to maneuver around the open door of a parked car.

She was then struck by a tractor trailer. The driver remained at the scene, according to the NYPD.

The surge in cyclist deaths prompted criticism by lawmakers and advocates. Councilman Antonio Reynoso said the mayor needs to “believe that cars are the problem.”

“The mayor hasn’t done that culture change, he hasn’t converted,” he said. “He lives in car culture and he hasn’t been able to break away from it.

“He can start building out policy, infrastructure and resources to make sure people are not dying,” Reynoso added. “Once we get there, we’ll start seeing a difference. This mayor is not there yet.”

Advocates from Transportation Alternatives also called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to join them on a bike ride so he can experience firsthand the reality that cyclists face everyday.

“I do understand a lot of the challenges,” de Blasio responded at an unrelated event last week, “and one day I look forward to doing that.”
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