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.
©2009 Community News Group
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