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Devra Freelander Killed in Truck Crash; 15th NYC Cyclist Fatality in 2019

Yet another cyclist has been mowed down on the streets of New York City after 28-year-old Devra Freelander was struck and killed by a cement truck driver in Brooklyn on Monday, July 1, 2019. Sadly, this marks the 15th cyclist fatality in New York City in 2019, compared to 10 such fatalities in all of 2018. 

Freelander was riding north on Bushwick Ave. in East Williamsburg when a cement truck driver going eastbound on Boerum St. struck her at the intersection at around noon, according to New York Daily News. She was dragged underneath the truck, and medics declared her dead at the scene.

The truck driver, 70-year-old Alan Vega, stayed at the scene and was not charged with a crime. The truck Vega was driving is owned by a Brooklyn-based company called United Transit Mix. The owner of the company, Tony Mastronardi, had the audacity to comment that there are "too many bikes on the road."

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of Devra Freelander, and to all the other cyclists in New York City who fear for their safety after the recent surge of cyclist traffic deaths.

With every cyclist who gets killed on the streets of New York City, sentiments about how Vision Zero is failing get louder and louder. "Vision Zero is in a state of emergency," read a statement from Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for cyclists and pedestrians. "Today we are in a crisis. It's up to Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to act."

As the death toll rises, and motorists continue to go unpunished for actions that take the lives of vulnerable road users, it is getting harder and harder to disagree with that sentiment.

Freelander is the third NYC cyclist to get killed within the span of just one week. Last week, 20-year-old professional cyclist Robyn Hightman was tragically killed by a truck driver who attempted to flee the scene; just two days later, a man named Ernest Askew was killed by a teenage driver in Brownsville.

None of the drivers involved in these fatalities were charged with a crime.

These constant tragedies, combined with the apparent reluctance to hold these drivers accountable for their actions, has bike riders of this city rattled. Freelander, a sculptor who has had her work displayed in Times Square, lived less than a mile from the intersection where she was tragically killed.

How many more people will have to be killed before substantial change is made, whether through street design, driver education, or the enforcement of existing traffic laws, to protect bike riders from motorists?

In response to the outcry over the string of recent deaths, Mayor de Blasio has said that the Department of Transportation is going to develop "a new cyclist safety plan to make biking in our city safer."

Considering that the city is on track to have triple the amount of cyclist fatalities in 2019 that it had in 2018, such a plan is long overdue.

There is no plan that can reverse the grief caused when a cyclist is killed in a preventable traffic accident. The only thing that can be hoped for is that we learn the lessons that are there to be learned from these tragedies, so that there does not have to be any more preventable, fatal crashes like the one that took Devra Freelander far before her time.

When there is a tragedy like this, the family of the victim may have real financial concerns to address, on top of the profound grief they are trying to comprehend. No amount of money can ever ease that grief, but it may bring some small measure of justice in a story where there is not much justice to be found. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed in a bike accident, call 212-736-5300 for a free, no-obligation legal consultation.

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