At around 2:40 p.m. on Thursday, January 30, 2020, 41-year-old cyclist Pedro Lopez was struck and killed by a truck making an illegal U-turn in Brooklyn. This tragedy marks the first cyclist death to occur on New York City streets in 2020. Police investigation is ongoing.
The truck, owned by European Iron Works in Greenpoint, was heading south on Vandervoort Avenue in East Williamsburg. Near Calhoun Street, the driver made a left turn from the right lane of traffic. As the truck turned, it hit Lopez, who fell beneath the front wheels. The truck continued to drive into a car parked on the side of the road, causing it to rear-end the car in front of it. The driver, 64, remained at the scene and has not been charged.
Lopez was taken to Woodhull Hospital with severe head injuries where he was later pronounced dead. Our thoughts are with his loved ones at this difficult time.
A video shared by Streetsblog NYC captures the frightening event. Police say the driver appeared to be turning into a garage when the accident occurred. The area of Brooklyn in which this accident happened is notoriously unfriendly to pedestrian and cyclist travel. Last year, the city reported the highest number of cyclist deaths in the past two decades with 29 cyclist fatalities. Of those deaths, 17 cyclists were killed in Kings County alone.
In a statement following this accident, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris said, “People who walk and travel by bike are an afterthought on Vandervoort Avenue…Since Vision Zero was launched in 2014, 10 cyclists and 10 pedestrians have been injured on the short stretch of Vandervoort Avenue between Grand Street and Maspeth Avenue.”
For those unfamiliar, the Vision Zero Plan, first introduced to NYC by Mayor DeBlasio in 2014, strives to improve pedestrian safety in New York City through initiatives such as:
- Speed limit reduction
- Larger charges against traffic violations
- Increased police enforcement of traffic law
In order to combat cyclist accidents, Mayor DeBlasio announced the “GreenWave” Bicycle Plan in July of 2019, with elements like:
- Citywide protected bike lanes
- Improvement of current city design
- Targeting trucks in major safety initiative
While these initiatives serve to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety in New York, it is clear that more changes are needed to improve conditions in Kings County. Mayor DeBlasio has been urged to take action to prevent the number of cyclist deaths from reaching numbers similar to 2019.
All New Yorkers should be able to travel the city’s streets safely. The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy believe that those who have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another party should be compensated for their losses. Our firm has a proven track record of fighting for victims of pedestrian and cycling accidents, including a $110 million verdict for a cyclist who was paralyzed after being struck by a falling railroad tie in Bushwick.