The bike safety crisis in New York City continues to become more urgent after 17-year-old Alex Cordero in Staten Island and an unnamed man in Greenpoint, Brooklyn were killed in two separate bike accidents on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. There have now been seventeen NYC bike riders killed in traffic accidents in 2019, after 10 cyclists were killed in all of 2018.
Alex Cordero was a high school student who lived with his family in Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, and was described as “very loving with everybody” by his step-mother, Carolina Balenzuela. At around noon, he was riding his bike in a group with other bike riders at the intersection of Castleton Ave. and Clove Rd. when he was fatally struck by the driver of a tow truck, associated with the company L&S Towing.
When emergency personnel arrived at the scene, they found Cordero laying in the roadway. He was rushed to Richmond University Medical Center, but sadly he could not be saved and was pronounced dead.
And Alex Cordero’s family is not the only one grieving, after the driver of a box truck hit and killed an unnamed cyclist in Brooklyn. The accident occurred at the intersection of McGuinness Blvd. and Norman Ave. in Greenpoint, according to NBC. The bike rider was taken to Bellevue Hospital, but sadly he too was soon pronounced dead.
Police stated that the unnamed cyclist “somehow made contact” with the box truck while the two vehicles were traveling in the same direction and in the same lane.
No arrests were made in either case.
Then, earlier today, a cyclist in Queens is in critical condition after being struck by the driver of an SUV at the intersection of Woodhaven Blvd. and Jamaica Ave. in Queens.
No charges have yet been filed.
New York City is on pace to more than double the amount of bike riders killed in fatal traffic crashes in 2019 than died all of last year. This is an issue that affects people in every borough, people of every culture.
City officials need to do everything they can to accommodate all road users, such as bike riders and pedestrians, rather than just motor vehicles. And there are steps that could be taken to try to reduce this worrisome flow of fatal bike crashes that should be preventable.
The city needs to continue adding comprehensive networks of protected bike lanes, for starters. While there are now 1,200 miles of bike lanes in New York City, according to City and State New York, only 500 of these are actually protected by a physical barrier. Prioritizing protected bike lanes could help different vehicle share the road and potentially save lives.
A less ambitious step that could help stem the tide of unnecessary fatal traffic accidents involving bicycles is simply enforcing existing traffic laws when they are violated in fatal crashes.
Too many times, stories about fatal bike accidents end with a similar refrain: no charges were filed, no arrests were made.
This was true in the tragic cases of Devra Freelander, Robyn Hightman, Pedro Tepozteco and too many others. Perhaps if getting into a fatal collision with a bike rider were to carry larger consequences, the drivers of motor vehicles would be more careful sharing the road with cyclists.
Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted that the city will soon “lay out a new action plan that will make the streets safer for cyclists” and everybody else on the road. On the very same day these two fatalities occurred, the New York City Council approved a bill that will allow cyclists to follow pedestrian walk signs, according to ABC.
Back in May, the council also approved a bill that would require construction sites to be “explicitly marked during on-street work,” rather than obstructing bike lanes and forcing cyclists to ride in traffic, according to Patch. An inadequately marked construction site was a factor in our record-breaking $110 million verdict for a cyclist who was injured by a falling railroad tie during subway maintenance.
Bike riders around New York City who have had their sense of safety shaken will continue to hope that these laws and initiatives will start to transform the streets of New York City into a place where they can ride safely.
Unfortunately, when severe bike accidents happen, the family is often left with significant financial consequences on top of their intense grief and emotional distress. In some cases, a lawsuit may be able to provide compensation that could help deal with funeral arrangements, medical bills and pain and suffering.