Another dead cyclist — and cops hunt hit-and-run truck driver

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A truck driver for a New Jersey-based waste collector who recklessly killed a 24-year-old cyclist in a hit-and-run accident last week remains on the loose.

Timothy “TJ” Campbell was riding his bicycle on Varick Avenue at 9 pm when a garbage truck from Action Carting Environmental struck him near Meserole Street in East Williamsburg and kept on driving without stopping.

Police have not made any arrests or identified the driver, but highway patrol officers have impounded the garbage truck and continue to investigate the crime.

Calls to Action Carting Environmental were not returned by press time.

Neighborhood cyclists reacted with shock.

Eleni Kelaidis, who works at Brooklyn Fireproof East, a bar and artist loft space two blocks from the accident, said she would ride more carefully on nearby streets, especially truck routes.

“It sucks that the culture of truck drivers is pissy towards bikers,” said Kelaidis. “That has to change, but in the meantime, we should ride really defensively.”

Transportation advocates, such as Transportation Alternatives’ Caroline Sampanaro, pointed to the need for more bike lanes and better police enforcement. According to a city study, 94 percent of bike fatalities last year involved inattentive driving or not paying attention to traffic signals.

“In this case, it’s completely unacceptable that someone traveling on a bicycle would lose his life because of completely reckless driving,” said Sampanaro. “This was a preventable crash. No one should risk his life riding a bicycle.”

As police continue to investigate the case, friends and coworkers for Campbell set up a makeshift shrine at the scene of the crime — hanging his Union Beer Distributors work shirt on a telephone poll above half a dozen empty cans of Budweiser and extinguished roman candles. Campbell’s friends wrote loving messages on his shirt such as “TJ, I’m never going to forget you or the light you shine,” and “We will always love and miss you, you were such a beautiful person and life won’t be the same without you, rest in peace,” but one message came from a stranger — a fellow cycler.

“Came thru Varick just after you on 7/7” said the message, simply. “I ride this street daily. I am sorry.”

The fatality came one day before a woman riding a Vespa was hit and killed by an SUV in Fort Greene, and is one of several bike fatalities that have occurred in Brooklyn this past year.

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Ken from Greenpoint says:
I was at the seen; this biker is like most of the bikers not following rules and regulations!!
July 19, 2010, 10:24 am
people from Brooklyn says:
Antagonistic reporting,,,,, language counts.
it's a person who was killed by a truck - not a cyclist.
People ride bikes, people drive trucks.
July 19, 2010, 11:17 am
gimme from around says:
the main reason I just don't cycle in the city, all these hipster kids and new bike shops opening up everywhere, look out
July 19, 2010, 11:24 am
Mark from Brooklyn says:
These tragic and senseless deaths will continue to happen until 1)reckless drivers are held accounatble, 2) entire streets are designated as being for bikes only or real protected bike lanes are established throughout the city and 3) heavy tolls and restrictions are imposed on those who commute by car, and requring minimum numbers of passengers driving into the city during rush hour. As someone who has commuted by bike for more than thirty years, I have all too often experienced the unncessary hazards of cycling in New York, overly agressive or careless or distratcted drivers barrelling down streets while talking on their cell phones, cars and trucks parking or standing in bicycle lanes (I have never seen one get ticketed or towed for this), car doors being flung open without looking for cyclists, etc. etc.

My condolences to his family and friends.
July 19, 2010, 11:49 am
fred from park slope says:
a lot of these accidents would be avoided if the people on the bikes would not take for granted that they are seen by everyone. they ride on sidewalks, fly into crosswalks while trucks. cars are making turns. they think they own the streets the way most of them ride. you cant even cross the roadway in prospect park without dodging these bikes that are going way to fast in the first place. i've seen at least a dozen kids in the last 3 tears hit by bikes in the park.
July 19, 2010, 1:04 pm
Wendy from Greenpoint says:
I'm with Fred: I don't mean any ill intent for the dead cyclist. Its sad. But I live and drive in North Brooklyn and MANY cyclists feel they don't have to follow the rules. They often don't stop at lights or stop signs, don't account for left turns or use the bike lanes or have lights or reflective clothing on at night. They take their own lives in their hands but being above the rules. Sorry.
July 19, 2010, 3:59 pm
Pierce from Kensington says:
I've been complaining about the drivers from this company (Action Carting) for years. After 8:00 P.M. at night they come flying off the prospect expressway at Ft Hamilton Parkway Exit ( ignoring 3 signs that say No Truck's or commercial vehicles)They fly through the stop sign at the exit and go through the red light at Ft. Hamilton. I've complained to the 72nd pct.,Highway patrol, 311, and 911 for 2 years. Police haven't come not even once!
July 19, 2010, 7:13 pm
CP from Boerum Hill says:
Sympathy to the cyclist, his family and his friends.

However, most cyclist these days really don't follow the rules for bike riders.

My 17 yr. old daughter fixed up a found bike recently and wanted to use it to get around Brooklyn and Manhattan.

We told her to follow the bike rules and when she did venture out from Brooklyn to Manhattan, all she got was mostly grief from other bike riders because she was biking too slow and paying attention to the bike signs and rules.

It really will not be safer for everyone until there are streets only for bikes and cars/trucks.
July 19, 2010, 9:21 pm
SLiM from Gowanus says:
If you've ever driven down that stretch of Varick street you know that it is a wretched stretch of pavement. "Washboard" doesn't even begin to describe how damaged and rutted it is. Why anyone in their right mind would ride a bike there among all the garbage trucks is totally beyond me. And don't say it's because "they have a right to" either. I have a right to walk in East NY at 3 AM on a Saturday night but that doesn't mean I'd do it.

And @Mark from Brooklyn if bicycles were to have their own roads how would they be paid for? Should cyclists have to buy license plates or tags or something?
July 19, 2010, 10:23 pm
dporpentine from Flatbush says:
SLiM from Gowanus:
Cyclists pay for city roads the same way you do: with taxes.

License plates go to the state government, which doesn't build or repair city roads. And gas taxes mostly pay for highways, which bikes aren't allowed on.

Do a little research next time.
July 20, 2010, 9:11 am
me from moo says:
But, gimme, if you cycled, then there would be more people like you cycling. A couple more, and you've got your own movement.
July 20, 2010, 11:02 am
Opus the Poet from Texas says:
Other reports I have seen state that the cyclist was operating legally in the road when the truck hit him from behind. If the cyclist was operating legally in the road why are so many of you B*tch*ng about the cyclist? I regularly see drivers that fail to stop at a 4-way stop sign just down the street from my house, should I then assume that all drivers break the law all the time, and decide that I can then distribute Vengeance by whatever means available to me at the time?

I'm not trying to frame this as a car-v-bike thing, the truck hit him from behind which makes this automatically the driver's fault, and he left the scene which makes it a felony. These facts would be the same whatever type vehicle was hit, the difference is that people riding bicycles are fragile and what is a fender-bender between 2 motor vehicles is a trip to the hospital or the morgue between a motor vehicle and a bicycle.
July 20, 2010, 11:39 am
liam from kensington says:
Please people - stop blaming the victim. It's unseemly. It says right in the article "According to a city study, 94 percent of bike fatalities last year involved inattentive driving or not paying attention to traffic signals."

The key word there is DRIVING - it's not a word you use to describe the activities of cyclists.
July 20, 2010, 11:45 am
Davis T from Sunset Park says:
Screw the cyclists. They take up too much car space with the bike lane blocking my view,
July 21, 2010, 1:32 am
Ashley from Omaha, NE says:
TJ was a great person and the most amazing friend. It breaks my heart to read such hurtful comments about cyclists. Everyone needs to be respectful of each other, including on the road.

Nothing I say or do can bring TJ back, but I will be more cautious and careful in the future as a cyclist and a driver.
July 22, 2010, 12:24 pm
Ralph from Hoboken says:
A car in a city is a deadly weapon. Too many drivers are too arrogant and/or stupid and/or thuggish to understand this. Yes, this is a car-vs.-bike conflict, and in those conflicts the logical rule is simple: THE DRIVER IS ALWAYS IN THE WRONG, because the driver has the responsibility of controlling a far more dangerous piece of equipment. This is the law in countries that have a more advanced understanding of traffic, and that do better than the US at making public space safe. We'd have fewer deaths if our laws worked the same way.

If someone walked through a crowded city street brandishing a loaded machine gun or a buzzing chainsaw, and the thoughtless use of dangerous technology -- in a place where that technology doesn't belong, a place designed for more peaceful types of movement -- produced the obvious, predictable consequences, would a sane person blame the people who got shot or shredded? Even if they may have walked a bit too close to the idiot with the menacing device? No? Then don't blame any cyclist for being the victim of vehicular homicide. Ever.

This truck driver deserves to do life in prison. In a really disgusting dangerous prison. In Jersey.
Aug. 13, 2010, 2:24 am
Kyle from Boerum Hill says:
Lots of drivers in this thread don't know enough about biking in NYC to know when cyclists are following the rules or not.

Fred complains about crossing the roadway in prospect park- Fred, did you notice that there is a bike lane in that roadway? And that at certain hours the majority of the roadway is open to bikes only? The bikes are SUPPOSED to be there, in the roadway, going as fast as they want within the speed limit. YOU are not. Get off the bike lane.

Davis T says cyclists take up too much car space. Road space isn't just car space, bud. It's also bike space. Cyclists have just as much right to to take up space there as you do, Davis- and you take up much, much more of it. I respect your right to drive a bloated, toxic, greasy, dangerous, foul smelling vehicle that pollutes my air and adds to our country's dependence on foreign oil. Respect my right to make a healthy choice and ride a bike.
Aug. 18, 2010, 10:23 pm
Anonymous from Iowa says:
For the record, TJ WAS operating his bike legally. His cell phone and iPod were put away in his backpack, he was not distracted. Biking was TJ's way of getting to and from work and around the city, he had no car. This accident was a tragedy, and it was simply a matter of neither the driver or TJ seeing each other. The unfortunate thing is that the driver kept on driving like nothing happened.

TJ was an amazing person who doesn't deserve the blame for this, not in the least.
March 3, 2011, 8:04 am

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