Cyclist seriously injured in latest park crash

Cone rangers! City installs traffic barriers to deter Park cyclists
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

A cyclist was seriously injured in a crash on Saturday in Prospect Park — just yards from the scene of two previous, near-fatal bike accidents and a target for a police crackdown on speeding two-wheelers.

Cops said that the cyclist was moving south on West Lake Drive — downhill near the Vanderbilt Playground — at around 10:30 am, when he wiped out suddenly. An ambulance then rushed him to the hospital with severe head trauma.

Police say he simply fell and that he did not serve to avoid an object or collide with another park-goer. The cyclist himself could not pinpoint what prompted the accident, telling cops he was pedaling one moment — and then “woke up” in an ambulance the next.

“He couldn’t remember anything,” a 78th Precinct source said, noting his head injuries were serious.

One witness said that the accident might have involved a pedestrian.

“I saw a person lying on the ground,” said Meema Spadola who had just left the playground. “I interpreted it as a bike-and-person collision.”

The accident comes a month after 55-year-old park volunteer and power walker Linda Cohen was struck by a 61-year-old cyclist just yards away on the same street, leaving her so badly injured that doctors kept her in a medically induced coma to aid recovery.

Cohen wasn’t the first victim on the treacherous hill: In June, 37-year-old actress Dana Jacks, who frequently walked her dog in the park, suffered brain damage after a cyclist collided with her in the same spot. Jacks intends to sue the city for a “careless and reckless” lack of traffic enforcement on what should be a serene roadway.

The city responded to the crashes by deploying two dozen bright orange, barrel-sized lane dividersto slow cyclists near the site of the accidents, where cyclists reach speeds of more than 25 miles-per-hour.

Cops also responded last week by handing out fliers and explaining that they would soon crack down on speeding cyclists, although cops at the 78th Precinct have filed no bike ticket summonses since.

On Saturday, the Jingle Bell Jog — a 3.7-mile race in which runners dress up in holiday gear — was ending at the time of the crash.

“It’s scary,” said Prospect Park spokesman Paul Nelson, noting the circumstances of the accident. He also pointed out that parks officials have formed a road-sharing task force that, among other things, aims prevent accidents on the hill. “There’s no silver bullet solution; it’s going to be a combination of education and enforcement.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505.

Some bicyclists on West Lake Drive in Prospect Park are still confused about rules; others chose to ignore them.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini