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Locals mourn death of cyclist at Sunset Park vigil

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Mourners gathered on Tuesday evening to hold vigil for a fallen Brooklyn cyclist, whose life was cut short by a tractor-trailer that struck her on Third Avenue in Sunset Park Monday.

“She was kind, she was generous,” said a teary-eyed friend of slain cyclist Em Samolewicz. “We were both doored last week, but she didn’t make it.”

Samolewicz, a 30-year-old Sunset Park resident, was traveling north along Third Avenue near 36th Street at 9 a.m. on July 29, when she swerved into the path of a massive Freightliner truck while trying to avoid being doored by a parked van, cops said.

Paramedics rushed the victim to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, where she was pronounced dead, according to police.

Samolewicz’s death marks the 18th cyclist fatality citywide, nearly double the 10 bikers who died in 2018 — the safest year on record. She’s the 13th cyclist to die in Brooklyn, where more cyclists have perished compared to other boroughs in eight of the last 12 years.

Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the cyclists’ deaths “a crisis and emergency,” and announced his plan to dramatically expand the city’s bike lane network, adding 80 miles of protected bike lanes — including a two-way path along Sunset Park’s Fourth Avenue. But to many mourners at Samolewicz’s vigil, the mayor’s plan is too little, too late.

“The Fourth Avenue protected bike lane was supposed to be completed from Atlantic to 65th Street last year,” Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) told the crowd. “We’ll never know if it had been completed, if Em would’ve been riding on that protected bike lane instead of here.”

Biking advocates blamed elected officials for pandering to motorists for the mounting cyclist deaths.

“The parking culture that generations of mayors and city council have upheld are the reason for these tragedies,” said Marco Conner, the deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit dedicated to decreasing car usage.

Other mourners remembered the life of Samolewicz, who hoped to become a yoga teacher serving transgender and impoverished practitioners.

“She was about to start training to become a teacher,” Lea Bender, a friend of Samolewicz from her yoga studio, said before reading a statement Samolewicz had written about her love for the meditative practice, and her hope to become a yoga teacher.

“There’s nothing quite like coming off a beautiful class. I hope to be able to offer that someday — to use what I know in a healing fashion to make space for transgender and gender-non conforming people in yoga, for poor people in yoga, and for self-discovery, because I have a lot to learn, and I can’t actually imagine I could ask for much more,” Samolewicz had written.

Reach reporter Rose Adams at radams@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–8306.
Updated 1:27 pm, July 31, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Hillary from Prison says:
This is what happens when you have self entitled motorists cruising the streets causing havoc, folks.
July 31, 12:37 pm
Tiffany Pootèr from Sunset Park says:
I knew her! She was a person! Not a number! Not just anyone! She was someone!
July 31, 12:57 pm
Jon from Sunset says:
The Bicyclist swerved into traffic and collided into the truck because A person opened a van door so she swerved. How does this have anything to do with This:Hillary from Prison says: This is what happens when you have self entitled motorists cruising the streets causing havoc, folks.
July 31, 1:20 pm
Jon from Sunset says:
Ever think it's the bicyclist and their reckless ways of driving their bicycle. The last 4 deaths were caused by the bicyclist. Not a truck or car.
July 31, 1:22 pm
Hillary from Prison says:
Get your fat a$$ on a bike and then tell us who is reckless, Jon.
July 31, 1:39 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
stop blaming the people and start educating the bikers to follow rules and regulations on how to operate a bike in NYC etc
July 31, 1:42 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Jon -- Who was it that opened the door?
July 31, 3:08 pm
Hillary from Prison says:
Stop blaming the cyclists and start educating the motorists to follow rules and regulations on how to operate a motor vehicle safely around cyclists in NYC, Ken you mutt.
July 31, 3:25 pm
Jo from Brooklyn says:
Ken from Greenpoint says: he has a valued point bikers need to be educated,
July 31, 4:06 pm
Hillary from Prison says:
Ken from Greenpoint and Jo from Brooklyn need to be educated on how English works.
July 31, 4:24 pm
John from Marine Park says:
3rd ave does not have designated bike lanes. Ride your bike along designated bike lanes. 3rd ave is very dangerous not meant for bike riders. She should have rode bike on sidewalk.
July 31, 6:26 pm
Bernie from Moscow says:
Don’t worry, after I get through seizing the means of production, the proletariat will only be permitted one bicycle per family.
July 31, 8:40 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Careful, the NYPD will slap the cuffs on you if you make any trucking companies angry. They have a long standing agreement.
July 31, 10:23 pm
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
All I know is a human being is dead and it didn't have to happen. Some of you peanut gallery commenters are cruel effers.
Aug. 1, 12:24 pm
Mayor Failure from Sunset says:
Our mayor calls the cyclists death a "crisis & emergency" yet he continues to allow bikes in the street in unprotected lanes, unlicensed without safety training, and without registrations sending more people to their deaths, yet he brags about his plans, and Lander preaches the "what ifs", so they can get their names in the paper using this person's death.
Aug. 1, 12:52 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Next time try the brakes. What day is Bicycle rule enforcement day?
Aug. 1, 9:27 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-letter-august-2-20190802-mz5bmgbv6nautlurslhstfenwe-story.html Reckless cycling Manhattan: While I am truly heartbroken by all the bicyclists that have been killed and injured, I just want to point out what I see in my neighborhood (the Upper East Side). Bicyclists, especially, but not limited to, delivery cyclists, regularly: go the opposite way on one way streets; have motors on their bikes which make them go faster than the cars; speed through red lights (they don’t even pause at an intersection); do not wear helmets; ride on the sidewalks. This is not a once-in-a-while occurrence. It is many times a day. I have also seen cars and trucks driving in the bicycle lane. Vision Zero is useless without enforcement. Joie Anderson
Aug. 2, 3:09 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-letter-aug-3-20190803-7wtkvwrbnrbljdg7dj2ennccjq-story.html Give respect Manhattan: I might start to care about the problems of cyclists in the city when and if they stop riding on the sidewalk, going the wrong way on one-way streets, disobeying other traffic regulations and cursing at me after they have blown through a red light and almost hitting me as I was crossing in the crosswalk with a walk sign. C. Schoenberg
Aug. 3, 1:09 pm
Leif Ericson 33rd from MNH, QNS, BKLYN says:
Did you hear about that first driver EVER to be killed by a cyclist? No I didn't either. I have had a drivers license, accident free, since about 1980 and can attest to the fact that a big sector of NYC drivers are absolutely the worst imaginable. So many of them suck at driving, that in my humble opinion there should be a major overhaul of the drivers test and everyone should have to retake theirs annually until drivers stop killing pedestrians, cyclists and each other. Not looking when opening the car door is just one of the many, many, many IDIOTIC things they do.
Aug. 4, 2:49 pm

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