23-year-old Madison Jane Lyden from Victoria, Australia was visiting New York City with her best friends for what should have been “the trip of the lifetime,” according to her parents. Instead, it ended in tragedy and heartbreak.
On Friday, August 10, 2018, Lyden rented a bike to tour Central Park and the Upper West Side with her friend. While riding on the northbound bicycle lane in Central Park West between 66th and 67th Streets, she swerved to avoid an Uber that cut her off in the bike lane and was hit by a private garbage truck. The incident occurred at around 5:10pm.
In the aftermath, horrified passersby crowded around the scene to help while her friend screamed for her to wake up.
Lyden was taken to Roosevelt Hospital with severe body trauma and was later pronounced dead.
The sanitation truck driver, Felipe Chairez, remained at the scene after the crash. He was eventually charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and operating a commercial vehicle while intoxicated. The 44-year-old driver reportedly had two beers before the collision. According to the police, Chairez had a blood alcohol level between .04 and .06 and was described as having watery and bloodshot eyes. No ticket was issued to the livery driver for pulling into an illegal space.
“This is disgusting what happened here,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio, who visited the scene on Friday. “Of course there has to be a full investigation, but this is an example from my point of view of the danger of reckless driving….A 23-year-old, that’s very painful.”
We echo Mayor de Blasio’s sentiments. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim whose life was cut short by what appears to be negligent driving.
Having grown up in Southern Tasmania, Lyden was employed at a recreational center in Geelong, Australia as a life guard, swim instructor, and receptionist.
“She was incredibly intelligent and so full of life,” her friend Caity Ashton told the Sunday Herald Sun. “She was so beautiful inside and out.”
Tragic incidents like this highlight the necessity for greater regulation on the streets. A New York Times article aptly states that “the safety of the bike lanes depends on the cooperation of motorists who often cross boundaries.”
Paul Steely White, the Executive Director of nonprofit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, said that the blocked bicycle lane was “a crash waiting to happen.” He called for protective barriers to be installed on bicycle lanes for every major street. In 2017, less than half of the bike lanes installed under Mayor de Blasio had protective borders.
“Every day in the city, bike lanes meant to protect people on bikes are used as drop-off lanes, parking lanes, and idling lanes for lazy and entitled drivers,” White said. “This death could have been prevented.”
Negligent driving and lack of protection for cyclists are public safety issues – ones that have become a national crisis. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 840 cyclist fatalities nationwide in 2016 – the highest number since 1991. The same study found that while distracted and drowsy fatalities decreased, there was an increase in deaths related to reckless behaviors, such as alcohol impairment, speeding, and not wearing seat belts.
If you or a loved one has been harmed in a cycling or other accident on the road, it’s important to understand your legal rights. To speak with a Block O’Toole & Murphy lawyer, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form.
The Law Firm of Block O’Toole & Murphy offers free consultations to injury victims and their loved ones. Our attorneys are experienced in personal injury law and have recovered top verdicts and settlements in bike accident and garbage truck accident cases. Our results include a $5 million wrongful death settlement for the loved ones of a mother who lost her life after she was hit by a garbage truck in Manhattan. The mother was a tourist from England who was walking back to her hotel at the time of the incident. In another case, we recovered $3 million for a woman who was hit by a garbage truck illegally operating in the bike lane.
To learn more about our auto injury results, please visit our Car Accidents Verdicts and Settlements page.