Sunset Parkers renew call for safer streets after deadly roadway claims life of local nurse

Dozens of people participated in an Oct. 6 vigil for Clara Kang, a nurse who was killed in a crash with a motorcycle while she biked home from an overnight shift at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn on Oct. 3.
Photo by Paul Frangipane

Sunset Park community leaders are once again calling for safer streets after a nurse was killed while biking on a deadly stretch of Third Avenue on Oct. 3. 

Clara Kang, 31, was biking home from working the overnight shift at Sunset Park’s NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn when she collided with a motorcyclist on Third Avenue and 56th Street at 7:40 am. 

Dozens of locals and safe streets activists gathered on Tuesday evening at Martin Luther Playground to commemorate Kang and blast the dangerous conditions on Third Avenue — one of Brooklyn’s most deadly roadways.

“The last time we did this exercise, I had a question, and that question was, ‘How many more people have to die on Third Avenue?'” said Community Board 7 Chairman César Zúñiga at the vigil. “I have the same question here today.”

A series of deaths on Third Avenue under the Gowanus Expressway spurred the Department of Transportation to fast-track the installation of Sunset Park’s Fourth Avenue protected bike lane. Officials have also lowered the speed limit on the strip from 30 miles per hour to 25, yet the road remains one of Brooklyn’s most dangerous. Two cyclists and two pedestrians died on Third Avenue in 2019.

Local leaders say they are tired of waiting for improvements.

“We’re done with the planning, we’re done with the studies, we need action,” said Sunset Park Councilman Carlos Menchaca. “The city agencies really need to focus on Third Avenue.”

At the Oct. 6 vigil, mourners lit candles, held paper signs bearing the names of those killed on the avenue, and marched from Martin Luther King Playground to the site of Kang’s death.

Clara Kang.GoFundMe

Friends remembered Kang, an immigrant from South Korea, as a heroic fighter in the war against COVID-19. Kang began working at NYU Langone, formerly known at Lutheran Hospital, as a nurse practitioner in the midst of the first wave of COVID-19, and has worked night shifts throughout the pandemic, her colleagues said.

“She took all the night shifts and she was able to always bring energy and light to the team,” said Dr. Marwa Moussa, the director of nurse practitioner services at NYU Langone. “This is a really big loss. She’ll always be remembered at NYU for being the most hard-working, and I feel like this community has lost a lot by having her gone.”

Kang is the 19th cyclist killed on New York City streets in 2020, despite the COVID-19 lockdown in the spring.

With reporting from Paul Frangipane

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