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Cyclist Injured in Truck Accident on Third Avenue in Gowanus, Brooklyn

A man riding an electric bicycle on Third Avenue was seriously injured in a collision with a truck driver on Sunday, September 8, 2019, continuing the disturbing trend of high rates of NYC bicycle accidents in 2019. This year, there have already been 20 cycling fatalities, with 15 of those deaths occurring in Brooklyn, compared to 10 such fatalities throughout the city in all of 2018. 

The accident occurred on Third Avenue in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn when a truck driver attempted a left turn onto 12th Street, colliding with the unnamed bike rider and leaving him seriously injured. The victim was rushed to Methodist Hospital in critical condition.

The truck driver stayed at the scene of the accident, but it is not yet clear what company employs him or owns the truck. ABC reported that the truck is registered to Pride Recycling and Demo, while Gothamist reported that the truck belongs to Lomangino Brothers, Inc. The truck stayed parked at the scene overnight as police investigated the accident, but no charges have yet been filed.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the bike rider who was seriously injured in this accident.

Third Avenue is quickly gaining a reputation as a dangerous place to ride a bike, as there have already been two fatal cycling accidents on the street this year. In July, a cyclist named Em Samolewicz was killed after she was 'doored' into traffic on Third Avenue. The driver of the van later admitted "he did not look before he opened the door of his truck," according to Streetsblog.

In January, again on Third Avenue, a cyclist named Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia was killed when he too was doored into oncoming traffic. According to Ellen McDermott of the group Transportation Alternatives, Third Avenue "has not been redesigned to safely accommodate all users regardless of their mode of transport." Although there is a bike lane on the street, it only goes in one direction and does not cover the full length of the road.

To address the ongoing bike safety crisis in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio released "Green Wave: A Plan for Cycling in New York City" in July 2019, by which time there had already been more cycling fatalities in 2019 than there were in all of 2018. The $58.4 bike safety plan "combines design, enforcement, legislation, policy and education" to make bike riding a safer transportation method for New Yorkers.

Although it is encouraging that the city government is not sitting idly by while cyclists continue to be killed in preventable traffic accidents, there is still much more progress that needs to be made. For example, although "New York City has increased the miles of bicycle lanes by a quarter from 911 to 1,243" since adopting Vision Zero in 2014, only 83 miles of those bike lanes have been protected, according to the Green Wave plan.

A protected bike lane is one that uses some form of "physical protection from passing traffic," whether that be barriers, a parking lane or some other method, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. However, a Streetsblog investigation revealed that NYC only installed 16.05 miles of bike lanes in 2018, rather than 20.9 miles as was originally claimed, casting doubt on the city' commitment to bike safety.

Adding comprehensive networks of protected bike lanes needs to be a top priority for city officials, regardless of how many miles already exist. Standard bike lanes can be clogged by parked cars and expose riders to potential dooring accidents, while no bike lanes at all put bike riders in a situation where they are very vulnerable to potential negligence from a motorist.

We hope that the cyclist injured in this accident makes a swift and complete recovery from his injuries, and that further safety improvements are prioritized to reduce the alarming rate of serious bike accidents throughout the city.

Until wholesale changes are made to the way NYC approaches traffic safety for all road users, however, cyclists continue to face the risk of being severely injured in a bike accident, as was the case in this $3,000,000 settlement for a woman who was struck by a garbage truck while in a bike lane. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a New York City cycling accident, receive a free legal consultation from the experienced attorneys of Block O'Toole & Murphy by calling 212-736-5300, or by filling out our contact form.

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