Cyclist seriously injured in latest park crash

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

A cyclist was seriously injured in a crash on Saturday in Prospect Park — just yards from the scene of two previous, near-fatal bike accidents and a target for a police crackdown on speeding two-wheelers.

Cops said that the cyclist was moving south on West Lake Drive — downhill near the Vanderbilt Playground — at around 10:30 am, when he wiped out suddenly. An ambulance then rushed him to the hospital with severe head trauma.

Police say he simply fell and that he did not serve to avoid an object or collide with another park-goer. The cyclist himself could not pinpoint what prompted the accident, telling cops he was pedaling one moment — and then “woke up” in an ambulance the next.

“He couldn’t remember anything,” a 78th Precinct source said, noting his head injuries were serious.

One witness said that the accident might have involved a pedestrian.

“I saw a person lying on the ground,” said Meema Spadola who had just left the playground. “I interpreted it as a bike-and-person collision.”

The accident comes a month after 55-year-old park volunteer and power walker Linda Cohen was struck by a 61-year-old cyclist just yards away on the same street, leaving her so badly injured that doctors kept her in a medically induced coma to aid recovery.

Cohen wasn’t the first victim on the treacherous hill: In June, 37-year-old actress Dana Jacks, who frequently walked her dog in the park, suffered brain damage after a cyclist collided with her in the same spot. Jacks intends to sue the city for a “careless and reckless” lack of traffic enforcement on what should be a serene roadway.

The city responded to the crashes by deploying two dozen bright orange, barrel-sized lane dividersto slow cyclists near the site of the accidents, where cyclists reach speeds of more than 25 miles-per-hour.

Cops also responded last week by handing out fliers and explaining that they would soon crack down on speeding cyclists, although cops at the 78th Precinct have filed no bike ticket summonses since.

On Saturday, the Jingle Bell Jog — a 3.7-mile race in which runners dress up in holiday gear — was ending at the time of the crash.

“It’s scary,” said Prospect Park spokesman Paul Nelson, noting the circumstances of the accident. He also pointed out that parks officials have formed a road-sharing task force that, among other things, aims prevent accidents on the hill. “There’s no silver bullet solution; it’s going to be a combination of education and enforcement.”

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 2:19 pm, March 11, 2012
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Rue from PPW says:
Sue the park! That's what everyone else is doing.
Dec. 12, 2011, 8:03 am
no one from prospect heights says:
Anytime I've seen a near accident in that spot, and I see a lot, it's always, 100% of the time been because there is a person walking aimlessly/obliviously in the middle of the road and suddenly running directly into the path of a cyclist that is attempting to avoid them. That's a particularly bad spot for it because there seem to be more people wandering around into the middle of the road, but it happens on the entire loop.
Dec. 12, 2011, 8:36 am
PS resident says:

The main problem is unchecked jay walking.
Dec. 12, 2011, 9:15 am
BB from PLG says:
And how is one meant to get across the road if the cyclists don't stop for the lights? They don't - so really - exactly how are we meant to cross,? We just have to try and dodge. Clearly, that doesn't work all the time.

Ban all vehicles - cars, mopeds and cyclists from the park. Its a park for chrissakes.
Dec. 12, 2011, 9:26 am
Bklyn biker from South Slope says:
If you ban all vehicles, with which I do agree, cars should never be there, is jaywalking going to be as fun for you?
Cops, esp the 78, do not enforce the rules of the road on the streets, it's safer to take chances with vacant peds in the park than the speeding, double parking, U-turning morons who drive our streets.
Dec. 12, 2011, 9:42 am
June from Park Slope says:
Good! Rotten bikers. It's a pity he didn't break his neck!
Dec. 12, 2011, 9:45 am
Burns from Ditmas Park says:
June - Severe head trauma isn't good enough for you? You piece of crap excuse for a human.
Dec. 12, 2011, 9:48 am
JT from Windsor Ter. says:
The 78th Precinct is useless.
Dec. 12, 2011, 9:53 am
Joe from Brooklyn says:
Everyone, except motor vehicles, should have access to the park. But, cyclists should not view the loop as a private training track. They have to slow down, be cautious and avoid pedestrians. Aero bars should be banned because cyclists using them cannot brake in time and cannot steer effectively. They are a direct hazard on courses where pedestrians may be encountered.
Dec. 12, 2011, 9:54 am
wkgreen from Park Slope says:
Did placement of the barrells contribute to this accident? At the task force meeting that was held on 11/16, speaker after speaker spoke about how treacherous they are.

The "chute" as it has been called, which does not necessarily slow anyone down, ends exactly at the crosswalk, giving cyclists no room or opportunity to maneuver around someone who might happen to wander in front of them. The arrangement is confusing and not immediately clear to anyone not familiar with them where anyone is supposed to go. Cyclists hesitate trying to figure them out, and I've seen joggers and skate boarders going through it. And the barrells, which are about the same height of a small child, partially block the view of the crosswalk.

In the last month nothing has been done with them. They are still there in the exact configuration that they were in when they were installed.
Dec. 12, 2011, 10:02 am
trans alt from my bike says:
If a pedestrian caused this horrible tragedy, they should be charged with attempted murder.
Dec. 12, 2011, 10:07 am
prillis says:
this is what happens when obnoxious pelotons use the park for training. good riddance.
Dec. 12, 2011, 10:15 am
S from PPW says:
No one knows if this was a cyclist who was training at a high speed or someone traveling at a more leisurely, recreational pace, or someone coming from the farmer's market. This kind of injury could happen to anyone, especially if a pedestrian walked into the roadway suddenly.

But I'm sure that won't stop people from screaming here about Lance wannabes and spandexers.
Dec. 12, 2011, 10:16 am
Daniel from Williamsburg says:
wkgreen is exactly right. The orange barrier are horrible from a safety standpoint. I would not be at all surprised if their presence was implicated in this wreck.

I would also add to the list of complaints about them that (depending on the size of ones bike) the handle on the top of the barriers is at just the right height to catch bike handlebars and flip the rider to the ground. I know this from firsthand experience, though in my case luckily I wasn't injured as badly as the chap in Prospect Park.
Dec. 12, 2011, 10:18 am
Burns from Ditmas Park says:
prillis -- If that's your attitude, I hope you suffer sever head trauma (if you haven't already)
Dec. 12, 2011, 10:21 am
Burns from Ditmas Park says:
Serious, Natalie O'Neill... stop with this sensationalist crap. This cyclist may very well have been going 8 mph and hit a patch of gravel. But your lack of any actual information didn't stop you from connecting it to the other accidents (which, by the sounds of it, don't have any resemblance whatsoever to this one!!!)

You should honest be ashamed of yourself calling yourself a reporter.
Dec. 12, 2011, 10:24 am
prillis says:
burnsie, if you hate this 'sensationalist crap' so much, stop reading.
Dec. 12, 2011, 10:38 am
Burns from Ditmas Park says:
Prillis -- you idiot shrew... I don't want to stop reading. I want the Brooklyn Paper to be a local, community newspaper that actually provides a service to the community. Not sensationalistic crap and the usual pitting of neighbor against neighbor. But that would require *actual* effort and *actual* reporting.

Can reporters even use this paper for their resume? Or do they just write this crap to make money and make no mention of it when trying to get a job writing for decent places.
Dec. 12, 2011, 11:24 am
prillis says:
and i want to be an astronaut when i grow up! who give's a rat's ass what you want from the brooklyn paper? you're such a whiner. i think your spandex is too tight; lose some weight and maybe you'll stop being such a complainer.
Dec. 12, 2011, 11:27 am
bb from PLG says:
Cycling really took off in this city in the last 5 years (we have been behind in this regard compared to many foreign cities) but the cycling culture in those places is well-settled - here it was like a bunch of cowboys getting horses for the first time. Cyclists now have a serious PR image problem in the city due to scofflaw and rude behavior - and they were thinking cars were the enemy! I think it'll settle down over time as the cycling community behavior matures.

Good luck to this poor guy and hope he recovers.
Dec. 12, 2011, 11:32 am
Burns from Ditmas Park says:
prillis -- wow, you're a sad, sad person.
Dec. 12, 2011, 11:40 am
adamben from bedstuy says:
when i'm on a bike i fear pedestrians the more than cars because cars, if you are paying attention, can be seen most of the time. however, pedestrians walk in the bike lanes especially when they're on their cell phones, or just walk between parked cars into your path with maybe one or two seconds to react. one of the problems with those cones is that you won't be able to maneuver around the pedestrians and would be more likely to hit them.
Dec. 12, 2011, 11:58 am
S from PPW says:
Yeah, because the driving community's behavior has matured to the point where they kill over 200 people per year and injure tens of thousands of others.
Dec. 12, 2011, 11:58 am
pattern says:
Burns — These crashes all happened at the same spot. I'd say that's a pattern no matter how fast he was going.
Dec. 12, 2011, 12:23 pm
bklyndave62 from prospect park says:
New York City is far behind the developed world in regulating the roads for the safe travel of cyclist/pedestrians/cars. We have a culture in that pedestrians have been told they "always have the right of way". Through ignorence and lack of education cyclists feel they are not motor vehicles and also exhibit this entitled "right of way" attitude and not all adhere to any rules of the road. Let's not even start with the real danger of undereducated motor vehicle operators. Too long and exhausting a discussion.

I pray the cyclist was not too badly hurt and will recover fully.
Dec. 12, 2011, 1:07 pm
wkgreen from Park Slope says:
These accidents did NOT all happen at the same place. At least according to the Patch, the Jacks accident in June happened near Center & West, about 1/4 mile up the hill, not a place where anyone would be going at top speed. In fact trying to connect ANY of these to the exact same conditions of place and road configuration does not do justice to any proper analysis since the "chute" of orange barrels was put there AFTER Linda Cohen was hurt.

The information made available through what passes for a local news media has not only been sketchy and misleading from the beginning, it's been divisive, which is WORSE than having no information.
Dec. 12, 2011, 1:17 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Cyclists really need to be reducing their speed as they come down that hill. Comming down at such a speed doesn't mean that they get to continue going at that same speed. For that cyclist getting hurt after going down so fast down that hill, he only had himself to blame, not anyone else. By no surprise, most cyclists who do this are actually placing themselves into harm's way, but I guess that's the nature of these bike zealouts.
Dec. 12, 2011, 3:24 pm
ty from pps says:
Umm... Tal -- WHO SAID HE WAS GOING FAST!?! And what information do you have to support "he only had himself to blame, not anyone else"???

I'm so tired of you and your ilk saying just plain dumb things. And no, I won't apologize because i deeply offended you. Stop saying dumb things and I'll stop saying the things you say are dumb.
Dec. 12, 2011, 3:34 pm
prillis says:
well, this report combined with patch's article suggests that no other person or cyclist was involved, he did not swerve to avoid an object, and he simply wiped out when going downhill. so not a huge leap of logic to think that he was going to fast for his ability. or was it the tight spandex?
Dec. 12, 2011, 3:51 pm
prillis says:
burnsie - chime in about cars whenever you feel appropriate.
Dec. 12, 2011, 3:52 pm
Cram from da hood says:
Fasinating... Iris Weinshall is now posting under the name prillis.
Dec. 12, 2011, 4:12 pm
Sally from Windsor Terrace says:
I've been dodging bikes (when they have a red light and I have a green) for many years. 99% of them never stop. Why have a stoplight there if no one follows it?? That just misleads pedestrians into thinking it's safe to cross when it absolutely isn't. There should be huge warning signs there.
Dec. 12, 2011, 4:32 pm
Margaret M from Windsor Terrace says:
Wow, another crash-
as a kid growing up around Prospect Park, I don't recall accidents occurring.

That's because people didn't use the road as a Brooklyn Tour De France. They just biked for the hell of it.

Dec. 12, 2011, 4:32 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
Is there any evidence that this person was speeding? Other than prillis making stuff up.
Dec. 12, 2011, 4:39 pm
Mike from Windsor Terrace says:
It's a park. Both cyclists and pedestrians need to be accommodated. The playground, BBQ area and lake all converge to make that particular crosswalk very busy and it is ironic that some cyclists posting here complain about pedestrians "jaywalking" in a park when I have never seen a cyclist obey the traffic light or yield to pedestrians. I'm not saying it never happens but I live around the corner and have my kids in the park every weekend and personally have never witnessed a cyclist stop at the light or yield to peds.
Dec. 12, 2011, 4:47 pm
prillis says:
damnit, mike from windsor terrace, stop making sense.
Dec. 12, 2011, 5:11 pm
Oy from Gevalt says:
Chill everyone... Cyclists sometimes fall when riding and get hurt. Natalie, I heard someone tripped down the stairs at the Union Street R station the other day -- better get over there to report the big story!
Dec. 12, 2011, 5:19 pm
ty from pps says:
Oy -- that's a great lead! Perhaps Natalie can connect it to the rapist and something about how public transportation is harmful to the city.
Dec. 12, 2011, 5:21 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
ok, In Prospect Park I yield at red lights for pedestrians. I would feel like an idiot if I came to a stop at the red lights when nobody was crossing. (I will when I see a cop)

But in my thousands (yes thousands) of miles of running in Prospect Park I have never seen a pedestrian stop and wait for the walk signal either.
Dec. 12, 2011, 5:23 pm
Q from Slope says:
I tripped in the park yesterday and twisted my ankle. I blame cyclists and the park and plan to sue everyone who was there.
Dec. 12, 2011, 5:29 pm
Burns from Ditmas Park says:
I swear.... the rhetoric is always so absurd. "I've been dodging bicycles... blah blah blah"

It's call looking both ways before crossing the street. Do you just step in front of cars too without looking? It's all so tiring.
Dec. 12, 2011, 8:03 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Training wheels might have prevented this tragedy!
Dec. 12, 2011, 8:32 pm
Tom from Park slope says:
Mike is right. ***It's a park*** Everyone has a right to enjoy it! Pedestrians need to be aware of cyclists and cyclists need to realize they don't own the roadway and respect the right of pedestrians to cross that roadway. As far as the barrels, I see them as a hazard for both pedestrians and cyclists. The park needs a better was to insure the safety of everyone who enjoys this beautiful park. I don't want to see the next headline "Child killed on park roadway"!
Dec. 13, 2011, 8:13 am
ty from pps says:
Tom -- The little "fun fact" is that children are taught to look both way before crossing the street. Adults seem to forget this method of interacting with the world, as well as waiting on the sidewalk and not pushing a baby carriage into traffic.
Dec. 13, 2011, 9:41 am
Tom from Park Slope says:
I guess that some folks just don't understand this is a park, not a speedway. Three people have already been seriously injured. I'm a avid cyclist who has been using the park for over 40 years. These accidents have not involved car, they have involved cyclists. Cyclists need to take responsibility. if you are unable to stop, you are out control of your vehicle and as much at fault. There are no "fun facts" when it comes to peoples lives.
Dec. 13, 2011, 11:49 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Ty, you really need to stop drinking that Haterade and start taking some chill pills, and understand that others have a right to their views just as much as you have to yours.
Dec. 13, 2011, 4:15 pm
pp from slope says:
It's unfortunate when anyone gets injured -- or at least it should be.

I run more than bike in the park (but I do use or have used it for both) and I think cyclists have slowed down in that area in recent weeks. It's also just a really tricky spot, horribly designed. Half the time the turn at the bottom of the hill where the road is the most narrow is filled with runoff water, forcing pedestrians closer to bikes. And on a bike you naturally go fast down that hill without any effort -- not saying you shouldn't brake but just pointing out what may not be obvious to people who don't bike (you don't have to try to go 20 mph)

I think lack of awareness and common sense -- whether it's about speed or looking both ways before crossing -- is the biggest problem. Bikes in walking lanes, walkers or runners in the bike lanes, people on bikes or walking/running not paying attention to where they are going...and WHERE ARE THE SIGNS explaining where people are supposed to be? Is there like one on the entire loop? The painted symbols on the ground make it worse, especially for people who don't regularly use the park when it's closed to traffic.

This shouldn't be this hard people. Pay attention to what you're doing.
Dec. 13, 2011, 4:36 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

There are 2, maybe 3 signs that explain what lane a bike should be in and where in Prospect Park. See the link below
Dec. 14, 2011, 5:37 am
Lars from Windsor Terrace says:
I'm a life-long biker, but I usually use the park to walk my dog: this hill is extremely dangerous. It's a blind turn, so pedestrians only have a few seconds to judge if any bikes are tearing around the corner silently at upwards of 30mph. If there's more than one bike, it takes a few seconds to get a bead on where to go when crossing.

I love biking, but it's gotten to the point where too many bikers are using the park drive as a velodrome. It was never designed for such speeds (this includes cars). Training or not, bikers have to be aware that this is a park and people do not expect a dangerous impact situation in this pastoral refuge as it was designed to be. Atlantic Yards would be a great spot for a proper bike racing track.
Dec. 14, 2011, 10:12 am
pp from slope says:
@Michael I don't think 2 or 3 signs is enough for a 3.4 mile loop but either way I'm still not convinced there are that many out there.

Since the 5 borough bike ride last year -- when the park was flooded with bikers of all speeds who had never used the park and wanted to squeeze into one of the smaller walker/runner lanes with the painted bike on it (really?!?) -- I've tried to pay attention to seeing the signs, perhaps I want to give them an excuse for behavior that was making me mad (why in the world would you try to go into one of the two lanes when the bigger two lanes are clearly available. the ride officials weren't directing people correctly, which didn't help) I know I've seen the signs in the past but every time I think "where are those signs" I can't answer that question.
Dec. 14, 2011, 11:48 am
anabdul from cobble hill says:
Brooklyn is not a bike-friendly place. Get used to it. And quit jogging, too.
Dec. 14, 2011, 12:59 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:

I think we agree. There needs to be MANY more signs. They need to be at the park entrances and bikers need to be given a clue as to when cars are allowed and not.
Dec. 14, 2011, 7:36 pm
Study from Prospect Park says:
A recent study of pedestrian traffic shows that majority of pedestrians are not using the provided marked crosswalks to enter and exist Prospect Park inner pedestrian lane. The key area of this failure are at Grand Army Plaza, Garfield Pl, 15th st and Coney Island Ave. There are very active crosswalks at 9th St and 4th St as well as the noted Vanderbilt playground crosswalk. But the volumes of these crosswalks don't compare to the volume seen at Grand Army Plaza or 15th St.

In addition there seems to be no evidence that the accidents have happened within the confines of the crosswalk.

It is clear all are at fault. And crossing the road outside the confines of a crosswalk exposes all people to potential injury.
Dec. 15, 2011, 11:43 am
Other Michae from Park Slope says:
@ Study

This confirms my observations, but can you tell us who did this study?
Dec. 15, 2011, 6:12 pm
Pete from Windsor terrace says:

Been around a while. 2 sides to every story.
Used to be there was a small intense pack of bikers-that
was it. Now there are a lot more. sally is correct- the traffic light is not observed either by pedestians or bikers.
Pedestrians are idiots especially in the park-star crossedlovers etc. but,hey, theyre IN A ParK-not
at the Tour de france.
Clear fresh deliniation of lanes and real CAUTION signs would help.
But bikers have to realize the loop is in a park, and we can't get rid of our legs , so if push comes to shove, it'sthe bikes that will go.
Dec. 16, 2011, 5:13 am
Culprit from WT says:
it's not a freakin' velodrome. Stop acting like it is.
Dec. 27, 2011, 9:38 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Quit with the personal attacks and imposterizations. Really a low blow beneath the belt, even for you streetsblogger bike zealouts. It's not that I have any problems with those that disagree with me, it is those who have actually attacked me for thinking differently than they were. Just b/c I say that the Freedumb Tower is a monunement to terrorism or some ilegitimate replacement, doesn't mean that I am trying to stop anyone from liking it. That is my opinion and I am entitled to it whether others like it or not. I don't mind hearing someone saying that they find rebuilding the Twins as being disrespecting or going back to the past just as long as they make any personal attacks at me for choosing that side as well as on others who share my view. As a nerdy leftist, I am all for having debates on issues like this, b/c it shows how something can change among the type of view. For example, there are those who find hate groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazis to be good people rather than bad. Another way to think about what I like is like the WNBA, b/c it's not like I am forcing anyone to watch its games or buy their products. If some really don't like the way I view things, then it's better to answer my posts rather than make those attacks, which was what many narcissitic fourmers over at streetsblogger and Nets Daily did at me in the past when I clearly didn't stop them on what they wanted. It just seems to me that when you have great talent in the WNBA you really don't need these streetsblogger movies and expensive NBA alternatives. Irreguardless I will have my say and this helps to debunk the lies being told and expose the racists for who they really are.
-Tal Barzilai
Dec. 29, 2011, 11:47 am
Reggie from Slope says:
Not blaming anyone here, I hope everyone involved recovers fully.

Some pedestrians are oblivious to crossing the street, most are not, but I've never seen one biker stop at a red light so pedestrians can cross. I'm not talking about the average person taking a leisurely ride but the tour de Slopers decked out in their little outfits.

If they're riding on the street they should be obeying the traffic lights. I ride my bike year round in the park but at least I realize that the park wasn't created for cyclists but for all to enjoy.
Jan. 12, 2012, 3:43 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!