Today’s news:

Cyclist killed by trucker in Greenpoint!

The Brooklyn Paper

Another cyclist has been killed in a collision with a truck driver — this time just a few blocks from where activists were protesting the city’s removal of a popular bike lane on Sunday.

Solange Raulston, known widely in the Greenpoint and Williamsburg club scene as “DJ Reverend Soul,” died after being sideswiped by a truck as she rode on narrow, two-way Nassau Avenue near busy McGuinness Boulevard.

The intersection is the most dangerous corner in all of North Brooklyn, according to Transportation Alternatives, the bike-advocacy group.

Statistics provided by the group show that there have 34 crashes involving bicyclists or pedestrians at this intersection between 1995 and 2005 — including two fatalities.

And last year, a truck struck and killed a senior citizen.

“It’s an obstacle course,” said Peter Rostovsky of Greenpoint. “It’s really congested here, the lanes are narrow and there’s always a frustrated driver pushing my ass up against a parked car.”

Details about Sunday’s noon accident are sketchy, but a police spokesman said that Solange, 33, and the flatbed were traveling west on Nassau Avenue when they collided. The driver remained at the death scene and will not be charged.

The accident happened just hours before Sunday’s protest about the city’s removal of the Bedford Avenue bike lane. No one at the rally was aware of the death, but activists complained that the elimination of the cycle path between Flushing Avenue and Division Street would make them less safe.

“This really speaks to the reason we fight for all these bike lanes,” said Ben Shepard, who helped organize Sunday’s bike lane protest. “It’s not about hipsters or the Hasidim like everyone keeps talking about — it’s public safety. This girl should have been able to ride along and not take her life in her hands.”

Shepard also works for GhostBikes, a program that memorializes bikers who are struck and killed by affixing an all-white bicycle at the intersection. He said Raulston would probably be remembered in the same way.

In the wake of the death, Transportation Alternatives and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth called for safety improvements at the intersection.

“The [city] is using federal stimulus funds to reconstruct Nassau Avenue along most of its length by 2012, but safety improvements to the intersection with McGuiness Boulevard are not a significant feature of the plan,” the groups said in a statement that called for widening sidewalks at corners to to slow down turning vehicles, wider medians on McGuiness Boulevard to provide refuge for pedestrians, and the removal of one parking spot from all four corners to create longer sightlines.

“Seldom does a week pass without flowers being laid in someone’s memory at this dangerous crossing,” said the aptly named Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “No one should underrate the necessity of making the most-dangerous intersection in North Brooklyn safer. Now is the time for the city to act.”

One driver agreed that there is danger, but he didn’t know who to blame.

“It’s a mutual thing between cars and bikers,” said motorist John Dalto. “I’d say there definitely need to be some changes — about 10 years ago this street was dead, now there’s people everywhere and I have a hard time not brushing bikers with my mirrors.”

Citywide, 10 bikers have died in New York City this year, though statistics are only available through September, said Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the bike-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

In Brooklyn, at least three other bikers were killed in 2009, according to GhostBikes.com.

Updated 4:38 pm, December 16, 2009: Updated with even more details and comments.
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Sam from Crown heights says:
So sad, so tragic. I met DJ Reverend Soul at one of her shows at Rose on Grand Street and had quite a lovely conversation with her. She exuded warmth, energy and passion, and when the word was musicality, she just came so alive. She loved her music. She will be sorely sorely missed.
Dec. 14, 2009, 12:21 pm
Alana Casanova-Burgess says:
I've put together a rough draft of the last year or so of the bike lane battles in Williamsburg/North Brooklyn. Please help me out - which developments am I missing?
http://blogs.journalism.cuny.edu/interactive2010/2009/12/15/a-year-in-williamsburgs-bike-lanes/
Dec. 15, 2009, 1:06 am
B from BP says:
Ghostbikes dot com is not what you want. Try dot org.
Dec. 15, 2009, 12:58 pm
Keith from Clinton Hill says:
A pedestrian was killed today by an ambulance!! It’s happening everyday! Bikers are just not following the rules at all!! That’s a big different...
Dec. 15, 2009, 3:22 pm
Vinnie from Greenpoint says:
It wasn't the bicyclist fault she got hit, but when it comes to trucks, you really need to follow the rule of the sea: small ships need to make way for the big ones. You can't blindly go into McGuinness Blvd with the hope a trucker can see you. They can barely see cars from their vantage point. Also, this was not just a few blocks from where the bike lanes were removed, so the article writer should stop sensationalizing this stuff. Having the lanes on Bedford would not have stopped this tragedy.
Dec. 15, 2009, 5:12 pm
Keith from Clinton Hill says:
a big different? I Mean difference! Wow, I can't spell! Clearly I am not so smart. I'm Keith, duh duh duh :-)
Dec. 17, 2009, 11:13 am
Canonchet from Heights says:
The 'ghost bikes' link is to a motorcycle gear retailer, not to the organization memorializing bicyclists killed in NY traffic.
Dec. 18, 2009, 10:30 am
Canonchet from Heights says:
PS to Vinnie: The 'rule of the sea' is an excellent metaphor guideline, as it is is precisely the opposite: large engine-powered vessels must by law and tradition cede the right of way to sailboats and other small non-powered watercraft.
Dec. 18, 2009, 10:34 am
Canonchet from Heights says:
PS to Vinnie: The 'rule of the sea' is an excellent metaphor and guideline, as it is is precisely the opposite: large engine-powered vessels must by law and tradition cede the right of way to sailboats and other small non-powered watercraft.
Dec. 18, 2009, 10:34 am
Alice from Greenpoint says:
Too bad TA has no official position opposing the removal of the lanes, I won't be renewing my membership with them. Leadership has got too cozy with da Mayor and feeling like professionals in the elite nonprofit vortex!
Dec. 18, 2009, 6:08 pm
Maria from Greenpoint says:
Two things - I would like to know if she was or was not wearing a helmet, and am surprised this appears in no story about the accident. This is not a blame-the-victim question; I ask simply because accidents where people don't wear helmets have to be publicized as such so my fellow bicyclists will more strongly consider wearing them. I know of too many accidents where helmets would have helped. But that may be not the case here.

Secondly, it's important to note in terms of safety at this intersection (but unrelated to this accident), that the pedestrian light on the northwest corner of that intersection which faces across McGuiness Boulevard has been broken for three weeks. This is unbelievable, considering the macabre record at this location. Does anyone know the best way to report this?

I actually have a third point. The only thing I've ever seen police do in Greenpoint is plant themselves at specific locations to catch truant kids. It would be nice if the Greenpoint cops would police these roads better. As one writer noted, this neighborhood is much more residentially dense than it used to be. But trucks, drunk drivers and other careless vehicles still act like it's the wild west. Stop signs are ignored, speed limits are ignored, and the placement of street parking spaces don't seem to account for the actual traffic flow. Cops could stake out certain intersections and make a killing on tickets, besides changing the attitude that people have toward driving in the neighborhood.
Dec. 23, 2009, 12:18 pm

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