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Bikers beware! Two more cyclists hit in as many days

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Two cyclists were sent flying from their bikes in separate incidents within a block of each other Sunday and Monday.

In the first incident, a 32-year-old man was riding on Fifth Avenue near the center solid yellow lines — not in the bike lane — at around 8 am when he was hit by a 40-foot tour bus that was likely diverted from Fourth Avenue because of the New York City Marathon.

The bike was churned between the glossy black bus’s dual rear wheels, but the cyclist appeared to escape unscathed, said an emergency medical technician on the scene. The shaken cyclist sat on the curb as he talked with police and medical personnel. He and was later taken to New York Methodist Hospital as a precaution.

The 52-year-old bus driver was alone on the bus, according to police records, and was insured.

Less than 36 hours later, a passing Honda sideswiped a cyclist riding south on Sixth Avenue, 15 feet from the corner with Prospect Place. The impact pinned the 50-year-old cyclist against a parked car at around 6 pm. Witnesses said the driver got out, talked with onlookers, then jumped back into his car and sped away.

If identified, the driver could face a broad range of penalties for leaving the scene of an accident — from a simple summons to felony charges — depending on the severity and circumstances of the incident. Since someone was injured, police said the driver would face a minimum of misdemeanor charges, if not more.

Sixth Avenue does not have a bicycle lane.

Emergency medical technicians at the scene said the bicyclist, who was less than two blocks from his home, would likely survive.

In the wake of the latest accidents, bike shop workers are urging cyclists to put safety first.

Grant Harding, an employee at Ride Brooklyn on Bergen Street between Fifth and Flatbush avenues, said a $15 to $55 set of lights could save a biker’s life.

“These little reflectors do nothing in the city,” Harding said. “Since it’s getting dark after 4:30 now, you can’t even leave work without lights on you bike.”

And while helmets are essential, Harding said bright front, and especially rear, lights are just as vital.

“If cars and other bikes can’t see you, it doesn’t matter what you have on your head,” he said.

Today’s news:
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Reader Feedback

Chicken Underwear from Park Slope says:
"In the first incident, a 32-year-old man was riding on Fifth Avenue near the center solid yellow lines — not in the bike lane "

If you have to point out that the biker was not in the bike lane, why don't you do an little research and find out if the bike lane was blocked. Then instead of making it look like the biker was out for a joy ride it would look like the biker was forced to leave the bike lane by a careless car driver.
Nov. 10, 2010, 5:13 am
Winthrop from Park Slope says:
Did you guys get some sort of memo to say "Twist everything to make bike riders look bad?" Unbelievable!
2 people are almost killed BY A CAR AND A TOUR BUS and you try to make it sound like it was the bike riders' fault!
Let's try another editorial slant:
In the first instance; the driver of a massive tour bus illegally proceeding down Fifth Avenue narrowly avoided a manslaughter charge when his vehicle rolled over a bicycle legally proceeding down the clearly identified bike route.
In the second; a hit and run driver struck a cyclist on Sixth Avenue. Injuries to the cyclist are still being determined. When found, the driver faces a raft of felony charges, including fleeing the scene of an accident.
And get it straight: "Bike routes" are special lanes that are supposed to be protected for the safety of the biking public but which car and truck drivers see as extra parking. Bicyclists are allowed on every single street in this country. Hit and run is a major felony. Stop blaming the victim and downplaying the seriousness of this car crime!
Nov. 10, 2010, 6:23 am
mike from GP says:
Winthrop -- couldn't have said it better myself!
Nov. 10, 2010, 6:55 am
tee from park slope says:
gee winthrop, you're not to twisted in your point of view...
but yes, the reality is - bikers are great - every biker is one less car or filled up bus. but damn i can't count how many times my dogs & I had to avoid a biker on the sidewalk (especially after dark). and in the quest for honesty - how many bikers stop at a red light, how many pause at a stop sign, I won't chastise the bikers who weave in and out of traffic - they will be their own worst enemy. bikers have to lose the mentality that rules don't apply to them.
Nov. 10, 2010, 7 am
Winthrop from Park Slope says:
So tee, you read a story about how bikes IN THE STREET are hit by recklessly operated TONS of STEEL and you can't see why sometimes a bike gets on the sidewalk??? This is why the PPW bike lane, separated from traffic AND the sidewalk, is exactly the way to go.
And of course the sainted pedestrian never does anything dangerous or illegal! The next time you're jaywalking, stepping off the curb to look at the traffic coming at you or to flag down a cab, I hope your dog gives you the evil eye.
Nov. 10, 2010, 7:44 am
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
There is no bike "lane" at Fifth Avenue and St. Marks. It's a Class III bike facility, marked only by sharrows, and the cyclist was perfectly within his right to have been riding anywhere in the travel lane.

As for lights, yes, they're legally required on bicycles after dark. But your story makes no mention of the cyclist struck on Sixth Avenue having lacked lights. And what you describe as an accident is no longer that -- it was a crime, given that the driver of the Honda fled the scene.

We all -- pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, bus riders -- need to share the streets. Let's walk, ride and drive with respect and care for each other.
Nov. 10, 2010, 8:31 am
judahSpechal from Bed-Stuy says:
I know the Police Department have a lot on their plate but a period of strict enforcement on both bikers & Drivers is warranted. Here in BED-STUY people were ticketed so often for riding on the sidewalk, that some people saw it as police harassment. It was zero tolerance, double packing same thing. Zero tolerance. Extend that city wide. Now I never see anyone over here riding on the sidewalk. I can't say the same for other communities. Including double parked cars, motorist who I see, especially on Bedford Ave, bet. Atlantic & Flushing, who routinely drives in the bike lane to get an advantage on other drivers.

Bikers & Motorist screaming at each other on blogs does nothing, while weekly, someone is killed or seriously injured. Come on People bickering achieves exactly what???
Nov. 10, 2010, 9:58 am
Joe from Crown Heights says:
Please change the headline to:

Drivers be more careful! Two more crashes nearly kill other street users.
Nov. 10, 2010, 9:59 am
Doug from Park Slope says:
Lights are very important at night, dusk, and during overcast conditions, but what time did these accidents occur?

Based on the picture accompanying the story, the tour bus accident happened in broad daylight. Did the tour bus have his headlights on? Is that even relevant if the sun is shining?

Stressing the importance of lights is fine, but if light wasn't a factor in the accident then it's just another case of blame the victim.
Nov. 10, 2010, 10:53 am
Ted from Park Slope says:
What was a tour bus doing on Fifth Avenue anyway? That is totally against the law! Yes, the marathon was on 4th, but 3rd Avenue is an approved alternate truck route, not 5th. And before anyone says "It was a bus, not a truck" in the eyes of the law a truck is an oversized vehicle with tires above a certain size, axle capacity, etc.
The bus driver had absolutely no business being there, and the Brooklyn Paper has absolutely no business reaching for excuses justifying the driver's actions.
Nov. 10, 2010, 11:33 am
ken from Clinton hill says:
a biker that drives between lanes/ cars we call them crazy bikers!! the city should take away there bikes for ever...
Nov. 10, 2010, 11:44 am
e-rok from Clinton Hill says:
"...man was riding on Fifth Avenue near the center solid yellow lines — not in the bike lane — at around 8 am when..."

I'm getting really fed up with news stories that feel it necessary to point this out when it's very clearly stated in the law that cyclists are NOT REQUIRED to ride in bike lanes when they are present, but ENCOURAGED TO. A cyclist may choose to ride in a "car lane" for pretty much any reason, personal and equipment safety topping the list.

Plus, as mentioned already, 5th ave is (supposed to be) a shared route, and does not have an actual bike lane.
Nov. 10, 2010, 4:14 pm
SteveF from Park Slope says:
judahSpechal wrote; "I know the Police Department have a lot on their plate but ...."

What's on the plate? Murder or doughnuts and coffee?

Drivers are killing almost as many pedestrians and cyclists in NYC as New Yorker's are murdered by guns. The average citizen has about the same chance of being killed by an out of control driver as being shot by a murderer with a gun. About 250 peds and cyclists were killed on the streets last year by cars and drivers.

What is the police response to a call that a man is threatening people with a gun? There will be a dozen police cars, helicopters and dozens of police officers. This is the real deal and the cops are all out in full force.

But what is the police response to a call that a man is threatening to run people down with a very large car. Keep in mind that a bullet is only 1/2 inch wide, while that car is 6 feet wide. Even drunk, the man with the car has the better chance of hitting people.

The Police response to the car? They don't even bother to put down the doughnut.
"Sorry, we can't do anything about it. We didn't see the driver threaten you. We can't even be bothered to check the license plate to see if the car has current license and insurance. Go Away and Stop Bothering Us!"

This quote is not fabricated - it is exactly what the cops have told me on several occasions. According to the NYPD, death by car is just an accident, while death by gun is a serious matter. I guess once you are dead, you can't argue the matter. And if you survive the driver's threats, then is doesn't matter. If you are pedestrian or a bicyclist, it just doesn't matter.

The cops respond when they get extra credit for the collar and they know the DA will push in court for a conviction. Gun arrests get cops extra credit. Chasing brain-dead/homicidal drivers gets them nothing. The DA won't prosecute these cases, and the judges don't take "traffic offenses", even death by car, seriously.
Guns - Bad!
Cars - Yawn....

We don't pay enough for the cops we need.
We pay too much for the cops we got.
Nov. 10, 2010, 5:21 pm
jen B from Manhattan says:
I think the coverage is fair and I am glad that a local newspaper takes the time to cover bicycle accidents.
Nov. 10, 2010, 7:09 pm
SlideBomber from Kensington says:
Ken from Clinton Hill -- That's a very educated comment you made.

If you get hit by a vehicle of any kind, I'll just consider it Darwinism in action.
Nov. 10, 2010, 7:59 pm
heydg from Boerum Hill says:
as an avid cyclist i wanted to weigh in:

props to jen B; i'm also glad these stories are covered, albeit imperfectly. i also applaud critique of the coverage: where 'blame' is placed implicitly or otherwise, factual errors, distortions, etc. however being an ass about it will tend to make your critique less effective.

needless deaths should make us angry, and ignorant aholes blaming 'crazy bikers' are fun to attack... but if you really want change, is railing like a tea-partier the way to go? as judahSpechal points out, "screaming at each other on blogs does nothing."

i've been ticketed for riding on the sidewalk, and at the time i was pissed b/c the intersection i was crossing (eastbound on union st at 4th ave) is dangerous, narrow, and truck-laden. staying in traffic means taking unacceptable risks. at the hearing, the other folks ticketed were overwhelmingly black latino, clear evidence of yet more racist law enforcement at work. nonetheless, cyclists on sidewalks are dangerous to pedestrians. serious injuries and even fatalities do happen. does this mean i will always stay off the sidewalk? no... but i do acknowledge more than one side to the issue.

as Eric points out, one way or the other, we all need to share the streets.

yes you, cyclist hipster, have reasons to be angry about vehicular homicides, dumb media coverage law enforcement. maybe you even have reasons to to feel righteous about your environmental stance. hurray for you.

yes you, pedestrian w/ dog, have reasons to be pissed off by bikers who scream at you and almost hit your dog who strayed into the holy bike lane of the brooklyn bridge.

yes you, motorist, have reason to be pissed at cyclists who dart through red light intersections, 'expertly' calculating they can just squeeze by in front of your oncoming vehicle.

here's a revelation: we all have reasons to be pissed. and duh, we all have opinions. yep. no f'ing sh*t. what are we going to do -- throw more anger into the mix?

riding to work every morning stresses me the f out and strains my faith in humanity. i resent that i have to fight for my life. this morning, while i carefully weaved between buses, pedestrians crossing in the middle of the block, a guy on sidewalk near fulton mall thought it would be funny to yell 'bang' at the top of his lungs at me. i turned to see him "shooting" me with a dumb grin. hilarious.

yesterday i rode behind a 'weaver' -- you know the kind; it's all about keeping it moving, finding the fastest path. we came to that same lovely stretch on jay st past fulton. a truck was double-parked, strangely with it's left blinker on. my charming front-runner spit onto the drivers-side window. i followed him and passed the truck, praying i would not reap his bad karma.

last week some rich biatch on the UWS decided to sue a small child (!) on a bike and her parent for killing an older women accidentally on the sidewalk. it's easy to rail against that too -- but before you retreat into unthinking righteousness, before you inject more anger into it... try something new: THINK

as cyclists, we have a voice and should exercise it. protest, advocacy, direct action, and more. we can push for public education and reform. we also have control over our own choices. whether we wear helmets. which traffic rules we ignore. whether we use lights, reflectors, etc. whether we slow down in pedestrian-congested areas. whether we taken the brooklyn bridge or the manhattan (do you seriously think that a whole new group of tourists will have 'learned' to stay out of the bike lane from your hollering at their fat cousins the day before?).

no these choices don't change the playing field. we can't control our safety or freedom to commute through these means alone. but please consider what choices you do have before throwing more oil on the fire.
Nov. 10, 2010, 9:43 pm
TA from bike nation says:
Every time a cyclist gets hit, 20 SUV's are getting vandalized. It's time to get cars out of NYC.
Nov. 11, 2010, 3:13 pm
jay from pslope says:
yeah TA so we can be stuck with the stupid rip off con artists at the MTA. Screw that.
Nov. 12, 2010, 12:15 am
richie from parkslope says:
its sad in nyc. bikers have or little rights. if they get it, everyone assumes its the bikers fault.
a driver gets a ticket for killing a biker. no big deal.
Nov. 12, 2010, 2:02 pm
Toni from NYC says:
lets face it some cyclist ride like morons, but that does not give anyone with a vehicle the right to kill them!

everyone should send a message to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan if you have a problem with the way she's set up the bike lanes, I personally think she's made some BAD DECISIONS & has wasted so many of our hard earned tax dollars... she really needs to hear from us:

http://nyc.gov/html/mail/html/maildot.html
Nov. 13, 2010, 3:46 pm
kayla from prospect heights says:
It was my husband who was injured in the incident on 6th and Prospect. For the record, he always has lights when he rides at night. He has a broken hip, and a broken elbow, but he will recover. The cops at the scene were nice, but they said that as there was only a partial license plate number, there was little or no chance of getting the driver who hit him.
Nov. 13, 2010, 6:21 pm
heydg from Boerum Hill says:
thanks for speaking up kayla. i am glad to hear of your husband's process of recovery.
Nov. 15, 2010, 10:29 pm

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