Mayor under pressure to protect city cyclists following week of carnage

Brooklyn Paper
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Cycling advocates accused Mayor Bill de Blasio of failing his own Vision Zero street safety initiative — a citywide mandate to prevent any traffic-related fatalities — in the wake of back-to-back fatalities that claimed the lives of two Brooklyn bikers in the last week.

“New Yorkers on bikes are being killed at a record rate,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesman Marco Conner in an emailed statement. “It is clear that Vision Zero is in a state of emergency and Mayor de Blasio is in denial about his signature program faltering under his neglect.”

The safe-streets advocates at Trans Alt are leveraging the recent cycling fatalities to promote a package of bike-friendly bills, which include Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s plan to add 50 miles of protected bike lanes a year until 2023, in addition to clearing parking near intersections to improve visibility or “daylight” the junctions, according to Conner.

The Trans Alt spokesman also demanded action on Park Slope lawmaker Brad Lander’s bill to boot or impound cars that have five or more traffic violations, as well as a planned bill by Brownsville Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel that would initiate a pilot program to test cameras to catch idling cars that block intersections.

De Blasio — who’s currently running for President of the United States — released a statement saying he will step up police enforcement against motorists and that he has tasked the Department of Transportation to come up with a new cyclist safety plan, adding that he would have to ramp up efforts to ensure his five-year-old Vision Zero initiative achieves its goal of no traffic deaths.

“We are seeing a dangerous surge in cyclist deaths on our streets, and we are taking action,” the mayor said in the prepared statement. “I have directed the NYPD to immediately launch a major enforcement action that will encompass every precinct and crack down on dangerous driving behavior like parking in bike lanes. At the same time, I have charged the Department of Transportation with developing a new cyclist safety plan to make biking in our city safer.”

The Police Department’s chief announced Tuesday that it just launched a three-week enforcement blitz of misbehaving drivers with the aim to reduce bike-related injuries and fatalities.

“The NYPD will work with all of our city partners to implement a comprehensive plan to reduce and ultimately eliminate bicycle fatalities,” said NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill in a prepared statement. “The NYPD vigorously supports Vision Zero, and enthusiastically promotes safety for everyone on our city’s streets.”

The new plan will focus on violations including speeding, running lights, not yielding to bikers and pedestrians, parking in or otherwise obstructing bike lanes, and double parking, while also offering educational outreach to drivers, bikers, and pedestrians from July 1–21.

In Brooklyn’s most recent cycling tragedy, 28-year-old Devra Freelander was pedaling east along Boerum Street at 12:19 p.m., when the 70-year-old driver of a United Transit Mix cement truck struck the biker as she crossed Bushwick Avenue, cops said.

Paramedics pronounced Freelander dead at the scene, according to police.

A surveillance video obtained by WABC shows Freelander crossing Bushwick Avenue on the crosswalk as the truck hit her.

Cops have not cuffed the driver, who remained on the scene following the collision, and the investigation remains ongoing, according to the department spokeswoman.

Freelander is the 15th city cyclist killed by motorists this year, compared to 10 in all of 2018, with two more slain just last week, including one in Brownsville and another in Manhattan.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 5:11 pm, July 2, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
How the hell is this worthless mayor going to do anything when he's out campaigning, let alone when he's present?
July 2, 3:16 pm
Brooklyn Guy from Sheepsheadbay says:
The mayor already protector of the homeless, To be protective of the cyclists is just too much for him
July 2, 5:36 pm
Barry from Kenya says:
License, register and insure bicycles. Make them pass a written and road test so they know how not to get themselves and pedestrians killed. Problem solved.
July 2, 5:44 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Yeah because licensing, registering, and insuring motor vehicles has stopped motorists from killing cyclists and pedestrians. It's idiots like you that ruin this country daily.
July 2, 6:13 pm
AKA "FecalStain" from Kings Bay says:
deBlasio and the Brooklyn Paper don't have the guts to stand up to the pedal pushers and their special interests, along with loonies like Loco Local. Pedestrians hate fat mouthed bikers and with good reason. they are pathetic.
July 2, 6:58 pm
AKA "FecalStain" from Kings Bay says:
Barry is sarcastic idiot. He is also a loony loco local Loser.
July 2, 7 pm
Schranzenstein from sheepshead says:
Cyclists think they deserve the world. They are pathetic.
July 2, 7:03 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Can’t wait for bicycle rule enforcement day!
July 2, 7:53 pm
Vasant from Kings County says:
July 2, 8:02 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
NYC could pass stand your ground laws so that when reckless drivers threaten cyclists with their vehicles, the drivers don't feel safe because we can defend ourselves and shoot them.
July 2, 9:07 pm
Wilbur D. Horse from Myrtle Ave Beach says:
Let me get this straight. A female cyclist pedals right through a red light. She hits a cement truck on its right side...and now DRIVERS have to be punished?? New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law states that cyclists have to obey the rules of the road; they are NOT exempt. Making the law tougher on drivers will not prevent the next arrogant cyclist, texting with her earbuds on full blast, from crashing into another cement truck -- or baby carriage.
July 3, 5:58 am
Wilbur D. Horse from Myrtle Ave Beach says:
Drivers are forced to take a 5 hour defensive driving course, then pass a road test, then carry insurance and have license plates. They are the adults in the room. Right now, cyclists can pedal recklessly and ignore their red light summonses because they know they can't be punished for "driving with a suspended license," a misdemeanor in NY. Once they're forced to be licensed, and carry insurance to pay for the medical expenses of their victims, cyclists will pay more attention when they pedal. And fewer cyclists will die. That's what the cyclists want...right?
July 3, 6:07 am
Mindy Korn from Borough Park says:
Wilbur, according to the police and video at the accident scene the female cyclist killed did not pedal through a red light. The cement truck driver admitted he was speeding and was not arrested because he claims he did not know he hit anyone. In this case, the cyclist was not at fault. I know that some bikers do not follow the rules, but more drivers do not. Brooklyn leads the state in car accidents caused by distracted drivers and speeding.
July 3, 8:40 am
Mindy Korn from Borough Park says:
Cyclist do not think they deserve the world,they only think they should not get killed while going to work, doing their errands because of reckless drivers.
July 3, 8:43 am
Jerome Krase from Park Slope says:
Traffic fatalities need a comprehensive plan for amelioration (there will never ZERO). The mayor so far, as was true of previous mayors, tried and failed by taking a piecemeal approach. In other words, lets look at the behavior of ALL those who use our streets and discover what it is that all of us engage in that creates danger to EACH OTHER. In my longish life on and off wheels: I have been hit twice by cars by darting into traffic in mid-block; almost been run over by a truck on a shared bike lane--- crashing into a metal rimmed sidewalk curb; almost hit pedestrians by speeding on the Brooklyn Bridge; been hit by a biker as I went to enter my car on a "protected" bike lane; almost been hit by speeding electric bikes on two-way protected bike lanes; almost hit by truck at an intersection as I tried to get through the intersection without looking since I had "THE RIGHT OF WAY' to kill myself; sped through stop signs and red lights because I was on a bike and felt I had the right to do so--- which I didn't; ad infinitum. LET'S BE REAL AND TRY TO PORECT EACH OTHER, RATHER THAN BNLAME EACH OTHER OF OUR HAPLESS MAYOR.
July 3, 8:44 am
Jerome Krase from Park Slope says:
sorry for the typos, but like most human beings I occasionally make mistakes.
July 3, 8:46 am
Marcus from Aurelius says:
Many roads in Brooklyn are just not appropriate for bike lanes and these bike lanes don't solve the problem. BOTH motorists AND cyclists need to make safe decisions, respect the law and stay alert. These reckless cyclists drive just as recklessly when they get behind the wheel of a car and vice versa.
July 3, 9:14 am
Tyler from pps says:
"and now DRIVERS have to be punished??" Umm, WHAT? Yeah, you run read light, blow through stop signs, double-park, speed, block bike lanes, block intersections, park on sidewalks, etc. etc. etc. You should EXPECT to be punished. You don't want these consequences? DON'T DO THOSE THINGS.
July 3, 10:49 am
Tyler from pps says:
And yes, you whiny annoying idiots. This applies to everyone. But the ones in 2 ton steel and glass boxes should be prioritized, given limited resources. It's not difficult to comprehend.
July 3, 10:51 am
BP commenter from Brooklyn says:
Tyler coming oh so close into slipping into his vision zero/henryford/localloserfromhere alter ego in that last post.
July 3, 12:20 pm
Breaking News from Comment Section says:
Tyler, the whiny annoying idiot, complains about whiny annoying idiots.
July 3, 12:26 pm
Ro from Park Slope says:
The pressure on City Hall that needs to happen first is all about safety for all: create bicycle regulations for safety (e.g., licensing for cyclists, helmet-requirement, yield to pedestrians, slow at intersections, no speeding, keeping right when sharing the road with autos, etc.). And then educate drivers about these laws.
July 3, 12:43 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Ro -- How about, like I said, prioritizing motor vehicle safety?! Drivers are the ones killing and injuring at ridiculous rates (improving, yes, in spite of the wishes of the folks commenting here). 114 pedestrians were killed by drivers in 2018. (And another 10 bicyclists, but it was probably their fault they died, right?) And there are around 16,000 motor vehicle collisions every month. Let's enforce the traffic laws according to rational prioritization, not your feelings. Let's "educate" drivers about not running red lights. Let's "educated" drivers about not driving 40+ mph in a 25 mph street. Let's "educated" drivers about not rushing crosswalks instead of waiting 15 secs longer. Let's "educate" drivers first, OK, Ro?
July 3, 1:07 pm
AKA Fecal Stain from Kings Bay says:
Thanks to the total pandering of deBlasio to Transportation Alternatives, the bicycle situation in our city has totally deteriorated . We really do need a change and our mayor can not be trusted to do the right thing. By the way I want to thank loco Local from here for my new pen name and look forward to more of his wacky observations. He is such a card.
July 3, 6:17 pm
Trevor from Fort Greene says:
Transportation Alternatives is spearheading the DOT plan to push cars and trucks off NYC streets. They've encouraged thousands of bikes to crowd into already crowded streets, without widening them. Stealing space from cars by painting in bike lanes is as cheap and facetious as it gets, also as cynical. Trans Alt knows the cost of their cheap war on cars is injury and death to bikers. Those deaths are factored in to their messianic goal. In their world, bikers are exempt from having to pass practical and road tests, like cars, having to be licensed like cars, having to carry insurance like cars. If the cost of not requiring road competence from bikers is death, that's the trade off.
July 4, 12:56 am
Benny from Park Slope says:
If drivers kill cyclists while breaking traffic laws, they should go to jail. If a cyclist gets killed while breaking traffic laws (yeah -- those laws exist, a**holes), the driver should walk. NYC needs to be more bike friendly, and less car friendly -- and cyclists need to stop blasting through red lights, riding the wrong way on one way streets, weaving through pedestrians on sidewalks, riding while texting, etc. There are just as many reckless cyclists out there as there are drivers acting like fools. Until NYC gets it act together and genuinely becomes a bikers' city, stop pretending you own the fcuking streets if you're on two wheels. It's a good way to end up a corpse, or a paraplegic.
July 4, 7:37 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I hate to break this to some of you bike zealots, but there are cyclists who don't tend to follow the rules themselves, so I wouldn't be trying to place a halo over your heads and pretend that you're the innocent. If you really want to have respect, you need to start following the traffic laws rather than acting like victims to them, which shows how much you're really despised by others. More importantly, when a cyclist flouts the traffic laws, they are placing themselves into harm's way, and there's nothing good about that. I can still remember when there were times when I was crossing with the walk signal and a cyclist didn't even bother to stop or slow down for the red light and nearly hit me. For the record, I don't condone reckless drivers for their actions, but that doesn't excuse cyclist from doing it themselves. They need to start coming down to reality and understand that outside of places such as Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives, many really want them to start behaving like responsible adults rather than some resistance group. Unfortunately, I feel that the bike zealots will just keep missing on this as they continue to do so for all the traffic lights and signs they miss on the roads as they continue to treat them like decorations.
July 5, 1:55 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says: Time to get bikes off the road Manhattan: It’s not safe for cyclists in this city, and it never will be. A thousand miles of protected bike lanes wouldn’t have prevented the tragic death of Devra Freelander. She was hit going through an intersection. The city has narrowed our already attenuated streets and slowed traffic to a crawl to accommodate cycling and it hasn’t made pedestrians, drivers or cyclists any safer. Traffic fatalities are on the rise again and accidents resulting in injuries have skyrocketed. Cars are more dangerous than bikes, but adding bicyclists to the mix, many of whom refuse to obey traffic laws, has compounded the hazard with new and unpredictable threats. The bike experiment has failed. It’s high time we cut our losses, remove the lanes, and throw Citi Bike in the dustbin of history where it belongs. Gary Taustine Regulate bikes Brooklyn: New York City biking is lawless. Bicyclists don’t have to have a license, don’t have to pass a written or road test. They ride against the traffic on the sidewalks, blow traffic lights, threaten pedestrians, and engender accidents that result in injury and death. Why aren’t cyclists regulated the same as cars and trucks? They share the same streets. They should be held to the same standards and censured the same when they violate the laws. The lives saved would include their own. Schellie Hagan
July 6, 1:04 pm

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