A bike rider was run over and killed by a school bus on a busy Park Slope street on Wednesday — the second cyclist killed in four days.
The death of 50-year-old Jonathan Millstein, killed when his bicycle collided with a turning school bus at the intersection of Eighth Avenue and President Street, and 8-year-old Alexander Toulouse, who was run down by a postal truck at Livingston Street and Boerum Place in Downtown on Saturday, were fresh reminders that even as biking soars in popularity, two-wheelers and four-wheelers are still finding it hard to share the road.
“Our streets have not caught up to who’s using them,” said Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the bike advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives.
Witnesses said Millstein, who lived in Boerum Hill with his wife and two sons, had been wearing a helmet during his crash, which occurred just after 8 am. There were no children on board the bus that killed him, and police did not issue a summons or arrest the driver, cops said.
A spokeswoman for the bus operating company, Atlantic Express Transportation Corp., said the professional driver has an otherwise clean driving record and is “extremely shaken.”
Toulouse’s death on Saturday sent a similar shockwave through Downtown.
The 8-year-old and his father, Christopher, were on an afternoon ride near their Cobble Hill home when the truck ran over him. Cops did not charge the driver for the accident.
“Zander was a very popular little boy at his school and the neighborhood where he was known for being polite and very smart,” his father said in a statement released to the Brooklyn Heights Blog. “He was a joy to his parents who are utterly devastated by their loss.”
Both accidents come as soaring gas prices — and summertime weather — has sent bikers onto the roadways in droves. And bike fatalities tend to be highest in the summer, Norvell said.
The Department of Transportation has created 70 miles of new bike lanes to accommodate the hordes, but the new paint often provokes a backlash from drivers, said Community Board 1 transportation committee chair Teresa Toro, whose board, like others in Brooklyn, has heard pleas from residents to both add and eliminate bike lanes.
“There’s an attitude that bikes are toys … and people are not taking biking seriously as a real form of transportation,” Toro said. “A lot of the fighting comes around the presence or absence of a bike lane, where motorists feel entitled to use the entire street.”
Then again, bikers don’t always stay in designated lanes, preferring, as drivers do, the most-direct route.
“We can get to zero fatalities by giving attention to streets that are crying out for improvements,” Norvell said.
“It’s not stuff that breaks the bank — and, really, we can’t let another year slip without giving attention to streets like this.”