15 Cyclists Have Died In 2019, ‘Mayor de Blasio, Do Your Job!’

Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner

WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK – About a thousand cyclists lay down on the ground next to their bikes and loved ones Tuesday evening for a die-in to protest the 15 preventable bicycling deaths in NYC just this year.

“Some people say that there are too many people on bikes in New York. We say there are too many cars,” Ellen McDermott, co-deputy director at Transportation Alternatives said. “It is time to change how we build our streets. Every single New Yorker deserves safe passage.”

Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner

In the first half of 2019, there have been 15 bicycling deaths on the streets of New York City—more than all of 2018. Eleven of those deaths took place on the streets of Brooklyn. The most recent one was 54-year-old Ernest Askew from Brownsville. He was riding his bike westbound on Sutter Avenue near Chester Street on June 27 when an 18-year-old man driving a white Hyundai hit him at the intersection, killing him.

Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner

Cyclists and advocates at Washington Square Park yesterday braced the heat and said enough is enough. “Mayor de Blasio, do your job,” people chanted. Someone then screamed, “de Blasio, do your fucking job!”

“I’ve been riding a bike since I was five years old,” Samantha Koshik told Bklyner. “Every time I hear about a cyclist dying, my blood boils. Our mayor should be spending more time protecting us in this city that elected him, than going out across the country campaigning for a presidency he could never win.”

Council Member Brad Lander was also in attendance at the die-in yesterday. Though he isn’t a daily biker, he told Bklyner he does sometimes ride his bike and knows how dangerous the streets are.

Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner

“[I am here] to mourn for those lost — and to build the solidarity needed for change,” he said. “Because traffic deaths are preventable if we have the political will to take bolder action. In an epidemic, we all have to step up and do more.”

He shared his plans for countering traffic violence, something that is very important to him. Such plans include updating the public on his Reckless Driver Accountability Act.

“Redesigning streets and intersections constructed with only cars in mind is critical to making our city safer for everyone,” he said. “We are making some progress, but for those who have lost loved ones to traffic violence, for those who commute daily by bicycle on dangerous streets, it is not coming fast enough.”

Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner

“Holding the most reckless drivers accountable for their driving behavior is an urgent step — and one no city has yet taken — but is just one piece of the safe streets puzzle,” he wrote in Streetsblog NYC. “More work is needed to bring us anywhere close to the zero in Vision Zero.”

Joe Cutrufo, a spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives, said the turnout was extraordinary. He said it’s clear as day that New Yorkers know what they want.

“That over a thousand people have turned out for this is a pretty clear signal that New Yorkers are angry,” Cutrufo told Bklyner. “Mayor de Blasio needs to understand that throwing more police at the issue isn’t going to fix the deadly conditions on our car-clogged streets. We need a protected right of way. We need safe streets. We need Vision Zero.”

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Zainab Iqbal

Zainab is a staff reporter at Bklyner who sometimes writes poetry in her free time || zainab@bklyner.com


  1. Reckless bicycle riding also costs lives of pedestrians and vehicular accidents. Adult bicycle riders should be required to carry insurance.

  2. I drive in Brooklyn almost every day and see bicyclists ignore traffic rules and ride dangerously almost every time I drive. Yesterday, I saw three bicyclists: none had the required reflectors and did not wear high visibility clothing. None respected traffic lights. None gave me right of way when they should have. Only one wore a helmet. One rode the entire way in high traffic with his hands off the handle bars.

    The traffic in Brooklyn is getting much worse, very congested with lots of cars being driven badly. And, lots of bicycles being ridden badly.

  3. I have to sadly agree with the above. Brooklyn drivers are selfish, rude, mean, and often reckless, bested (worsted?) only by Boston in my experience, but Brooklyn bikers have rarely met a red light or a stop sign they like, and they often scare pedestrians out of crosswalks. (Manhattan messengers are probably even worse.) I AM NOT BLAMING THE VICTIMS but bikers, BIKE DEFENSIVELY. Don’t think your virtuousness will protect you from jerks and idiots at the wheel (or bozos who don’t check their side view mirrors before opening their doors).

  4. NYC will never be safe for cyclists. Add another 1000 bike lanes. Hell, add another 100,000 bike lanes. It won’t matter. The basic design of the city is at odds with safe cycling. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, just that it is a fact and continuing to deny it will result in more and more lives lost.

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