Metropolitan Avenue is too dangerous, neighbors say

Metropolitan Avenue is too dangerous, neighbors say
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The Bushwick street where a hit-and-run driver killed cyclist Terence Connor last week must be tamed before it takes another life, neighbors and mourning family members say.

A growing number of bike riders are joining big rigs on Metropolitan Avenue, changing the demographics of a truck route that feels more accommodating to 18-wheelers than two-wheelers. But critics say the street’s wide layout encourages speeding, and the lack of a bike lane leaves cyclists fending for themselves on the four-lane section near Stewart Avenue, where a driver struck the 26-year-old musician and left him bleeding on the asphalt early on Oct. 1.

“There should be a bike lane, more cameras, a stop sign, something,” said Connor’s cousin Tara McQueen. “Why isn’t there a bike lane on every road?”

Police are still hunting the motorist who struck Connor — a drummer in the psychedelic garage band Total Slacker.

The fatality comes at a corner that played host to four vehicular crashes in August, the last month for which the cycling advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has records.

The Department of Transportation says there have been no fatal traffic accidents at the intersection since 2006.

And even though it cuts through a largely industrial neighborhood, the road is increasingly popular with bicyclists traveling to and from Bushwick: on a recent morning, more than ten bicyclists passed by the intersection of Metropolitan and Stewart avenues in less than 15 minutes.

Bushwick residents say the city could make Metropolitan Avenue safer for cyclists by adding more traffic signals — and better enforcing the rules of the road.

The corner of Stewart Avenue boasts a stoplight, but the nearby intersections of Scott and Varick avenues do not.

“There is too much commercial traffic and not enough lights,” said neighbor Diana Munoz. “People run through red lights all the time. It’s not going to get any better.”

Connor’s Total Slacker bandmate, Tucker Rountree, says the city must bolster its bicycle accessibility as economic realities force more Brooklynites to treat bikes as their main mode of transit.

“Only a certain amount of people can afford unlimited subway rides,” said Rountree, who himself was hit by a car on Metropolitan and Bedford avenues four years ago. “I hope this city can live up to its progressive attitude and someday make bike lanes as prevalent as auto lanes.”