Dead biker’s mom joins call for Flatbush bike lane

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The grieving mother of a bicyclist run down on Flatbush Avenue has vowed to not let her son die in vain, joining a nascent campaign by cycling advocates for a bike lane on the chaotic thoroughfare where her son was killed.

“I don’t see how anyone could object [to a bike lane],” Laraine McDonough said, just days after she and her family held a memorial service for her son, Jake McDonough, who was on his way to class at Brooklyn College on April 14 when he was struck by an impatient motorist who ran a red light at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Beverly Road.

Motorist Michael Oxley, 29, was arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide for allegedly zipping around a slower car before striking McDonough, who was dragged several blocks and died at the scene.

Laraine McDonough said her son biked all over the city, even though she often feared for his safety.

“[Bike riding] is dangerous in this city,” she said. “I didn’t want my son riding a bike, but he was 18 and able to make his own decisions. He told me that he was going to be safe, but you can’t guarantee what others are going to do.”

That’s why “bike advocates should be listened to,” she said. “Bicyclists need a lot more considerat­ions.”

There’s currently no active campaign for a bike lane stretching from the tip of the Manhattan Bridge in Downtown to the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge in Marine Park, but Transportation Alternatives spokesman Wiley Norvell said one would not only help calm traffic, but “link the borough together” for bicyclists.

“It’s a critical corridor — if it was made safe for cycling, it would be utterly transforma­tive,” he said.

But first it would be an engineering nightmare. Though more and more bicyclists can be found pedaling along the seven-mile stretch, Flatbush Avenue is famous for its aggressive motorists and dollar van drivers, as well as the fleet of buses and delivery trucks. Jersey barriers like the ones installed on Tillary Street near the Brooklyn Bridge may have to be installed to save bicyclists from motorists, Norvell said.

The Department of Transportation said that there are no plans to put a bike lane along Flatbush Avenue, since several other streets that run parallel to it already have them.

Yet a bike lane request for Flatbush Avenue could get the blessing of Borough President Markowitz, even though he recently opposed one for Prospect Park West.

“I’ve supported the creation of many bike lanes in Brooklyn and am certainly open to considering the merits and feasibility of any such proposal,” he said.

Posted 12:00 am, April 29, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

weather vane from bay ridge says:
The wind must have changed direction, because Marty has a different opinion on bike lanes today.

Either the wind changed or Marty just has some nice fat pigeons (donors) on Prospect Park West that didn't want the bike lanes.
April 29, 2010, 7:34 pm
Fatimah from Cobble Hill says:
Dear Brooklyn Paper:
"... bikers's mom joins call for Flatbush bike lane" April 29, 2010
I certainly do sympathize with Laraine McDonough on the loss of her son. That is a tragedy no mother should experience. I am advocate for bike lanes, but I feel bicyclists should earn them. It is increasingly hazardous for pedestrians these days. Bicyclists are running red lights, riding the wrong way on one-way streets, riding on sidewalks, speeding on the right side of moving vehicles -- without receiving traffic tickets. As far as I can tell, cyclists think all of that is okay. If bicyclists want bike lanes, how about this: follow traffic laws, share the road and drive safely.
Thank you.
April 30, 2010, 5:33 am
kevin from Flatbush says:
The notion that bikers have to "earn" infrastructure is absurd. Should we remove sidewalks because the majority of pedestrians jaywalk? How about tearing down the BQE because driver don't signal their lane changes and frequently speed?

Please save your anti-bike harping to the comments section of an article that isn't about the tragic death of a promising young man who was simply trying to get to class while following the letter of the law. He was killed by a driver who illegally blew through a red light, meaning that Jake McDonough was riding through a green light, i.e. following traffic laws - just as you advise.

Also, what bike lanes are parallel to Flatbush Ave.? Flatbush Ave. cuts diagonally through nearly every neighborhood it passes through. Not only are their not parallel bike lanes, there aren't even parallel streets.

Even if their had been a bike lane on Flatbush it would not have helped this situation. What would have saved this you man was a police department that actually enforces the traffic regulations that already exist. Speed and red-light enforcement cameras wouldn't hurt either.
April 30, 2010, 10:10 am
kevin from Flatbush says:
Poor typing.

Even if there had been a bike lane on Flatbush it would not have helped this situation. What would have saved this young man was a police department that actually enforced the traffic regulations that already exist. Speed and red-light enforcement cameras wouldn't hurt either.
April 30, 2010, 10:11 am
disgusted from Brooklyn says:
I agree with Kevin about the real blame laying with the NYPD not enforcing traffic laws. Bike lanes and speed bumps etc etc do nothing but provide a way for the NYPD to appease residents and continue to ignore speeders and do nothing. I had a cop tell me the NYPD doesn't give out speeding tickets because it hurts their relations with the community. Seriously. I think this family should sue the city for this official policy of refusal to enforce traffic laws by the police, and this should be a major issue in all city elections in the coming years.
May 30, 2010, 8:49 am

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