This blog has reported before about the dangers of sanitation trucks and the accidents they cause. The last blog post on garbage truck accidents appeared in July 2014. Sadly, another incident occurred in January and was reported in the New York Times on January 17. A bicyclist was struck and killed by a private sanitation truck in Long Island City, Queens on 41st Avenue near Vernon Boulevard. This was the first fatal bicycle accident in 2015.
According to figures reported in Gothamist, fatalities were down in 2014 in all categories except among cyclists. Between 2013 and 2014, bicycle accident fatalities rose from 12 in 2013 to 20 in 2014. This could be attributable to the increasing popularity of bicycling as a form of transportation and recreation. However, along with the growth in popularity has come an increase in the number of bike lanes throughout the city, protecting cyclists from traffic – in theory. The reality appears to be less clear.
The recent accident in Queens involving the sanitation truck and a cyclist continues to be under investigation. The cyclist, who was later identified as Hoyt Jacobs, a Brooklyn educator, was wearing a helmet. The sanitation truck was operated by Manhattan Demolition. The driver remained on the scene after the crash but the company has not commented on the death.
The accident occurred when the truck was making a left turn. Because of truck size restrictions in the city, sanitation trucks are often the largest vehicles to travel on city streets. The driver sits very high in the cab, limiting his or her visibility to the street. The profile of sanitation trucks also makes it difficult for drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists behind them, increasing the risk of accidents.
Although this was the first bicycle fatality, two pedestrians were killed and two others critically injured in the Bronx and Manhattan earlier in January.