UPDATE- It Keeps Happening: 18th Cyclist Killed In Sunset Park

UPDATE- It Keeps Happening: 18th Cyclist Killed In Sunset Park
A woman holds a poster at the cyclist die-in early this month. (Photo: Zainab Iqbal/Bklyner)

UPDATE: The cyclist has been identified as Em Samolewicz. She was 30-years-old. A candlelight vigil will be taking place tonight at 5:30 p.m. at 36th Street and Third Avenue.

SUNSET PARK – Another cyclist was killed Monday morning after swerving into traffic to avoid an opening car door.

On July 29 at about 9 a.m., a 30-year-old cyclist was riding her bike on Third Avenue and 36th Street. Someone in a parked car suddenly opened the door, and the cyclist swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid being hit. But the cyclist did get hit, not by a car door, but by the driver of a tractor-trailer that ended up killing her, cops said. There are no bike lanes at the site of the incident.

The 37-year-old driver of the tractor-trailer remained at the scene and the cyclist was taken to New York University Langone Hospital—Brooklyn where she was pronounced dead.

“My prayers are with the family of the rider who was killed this morning. What’s it going to take for bold leadership from the Mayor?” Council Member Carlos Menchaca said. “I ride my bicycle on these streets daily. They are not safe. We need a master plan and a commitment to implement it immediately.”

The crash took place about eight blocks from where Hugo Garcia, the first cyclist killed in NYC this year, was struck.

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez tweeted: “I mourn this loss with our Sunset PK community & refuse to let this continue. Swift, decisive action to reduce traffic fatalities needs to be taken immediately!”

Council Member Brad Lander had this to say: “Another terrible cyclist death in Brooklyn just today, this one because a driver could not take just one second to check the mirror before opening the door. Also can’t help but wonder whether the 4th Ave protected bike lane might have saved this life if it were further along.”

This is the 18th bicyclist killed in NYC so far this year—the 13th in Brooklyn. Just last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a $58 million plan aimed at making streets safer for bicyclists. The plan, dubbed “Green Wave,” includes adding 30 miles of bike lanes per year, 80 more Department of Transportation staff, and ramping up NYPD bike lane enforcement at 100 city-identified “crash-prone areas.”

This also comes a few weeks after the massive die-in in Washington Square Park where over 1,000 cyclists protested the preventable bike deaths. Since then, there have been three more bike-related deaths, including one last week in Greenpoint where a 58-year-old cyclist was killed by the driver of a box truck.

“Third Avenue, which has eight lanes for cars and zero 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,” Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Ellen McDermott said. “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,” McDermott continued. “Streets like Third Avenue are incompatible with Vision Zero. To eliminate traffic deaths, these deadly corridors which are dedicated 100 percent to moving and storing vehicles must not be allowed to exist in their current form. We cannot make excuses for so-called ‘level of service’ while saying that eliminating death and serious injury is a top priority. We simply cannot have it both ways.”

McDermott noted that “Dooring, which caused the death of Garcia as well as Yisroel Schwartz on May 15, is expressly prohibited by New York State law. The NYPD could use more training on this issue.”

“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,” McDermott said. “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.”


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