NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former 1010 WINS employee who was struck by a cyclist in Central Park last week has died, and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has launched an investigation into the accident.
Mike Wittman, a senior vice president of finance at CBS, announced the death of his wife, Jill Tarlov, in an emailed statement Monday morning.
He said she was taken far too soon and thanked those who kept her in their thoughts and prayers. The couple has two children — a son, Matthew, and daughter, Anna.
“My wife was beautiful in every way imaginable,” Wittman said in the statement. “Jill was the most amazing mother to Matthew and Anna, who taught them above all that kindness, compassion, and a spirit for life were the right morals to live by. Everyone who had ever met her was somehow made better by her company. Even though she has been taken from us far too soon, her spirit will live on forever. On behalf of our family, I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and request privacy during the difficult times ahead.”
The 59-year-old Tarlov, of Fairfield, Connecticut, was struck by a bicyclist Thursday on West Drive at 62nd Street in Central Park and suffered head trauma. She was crossing at a traffic light-enforced crosswalk at the time.
Police said the 31-year-old cyclist, Jason Marshall, remained at the scene. He suffered minor injuries.
Anton Guitano, chief operating officer at CBS Local Media, and Peter Dunn, president of CBS Television Stations, said they are committed to bringing greater public awareness of distracted driving by motorists and cyclists that endangers pedestrians.
“We are heartsick over the passing of our dear friend and former 1010 WINS Radio colleague Jill Tarlov,” they said in a statement. “As we mourn the loss of our friend and console Mike and his family, we are committed to doing what we can to bring greater public awareness of the perils of unsafe and distracted driving by motorists and cyclists that endangers pedestrians. Far too many people have been killed or seriously injured on our streets.”
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, a bouquet of roses was left Monday on ledge of a lamppost in Central Park, along with a handwritten note reading, “New York cyclists care.”
“I was horrified to hear about the accident,” said cyclist Shelly Mossey of Battery Park.
A preliminary investigation indicated that the bicyclist was riding in the park’s bike lane when he struck the woman while swerving to avoid other pedestrians.
Cyclists are supposed to slow down at crosswalks and yield to pedestrians, according to the Parks Department website.
Mossey said there is a lack of safety enforcement when it comes to the city’s bike lanes.
“It’s just irking me – New York City is becoming very dangerous for everybody – runners, skateboarders, cycling. New York City has given us not just the Central Park bike lanes, but the bike lanes on the West Side Highway; bike lanes all over the street. But nobody is managing anything,” Mossey said.
Mossey said there should be a crossing guard at the intersection where Tarlov was struck, and Kramer said he may be right. On Monday, Kramer reported it was a free-for-all, with bicyclists failing to stop for red lights, pedicabs doing the same, and pedestrians also crossing against the light.
Officials said they have tried to enforce the law. Since January, the number of cyclists ticketed in Central Park has tripled, with half of the tickets going to people who failed to yield to pedestrians.
A total of 103 tickets were issued in the park during an NYPD crackdown this weekend, with 42 of them being issued near the spot where Tarlov was struck.
Meanwhile, no charges have been filed against cyclist Marshall. But the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has launched an investigation, and city officials have begun eyeing new enforcement measures.
Polly Trottenberg, the city’s transportation commissioner, said officials will explore ways to prevent other such accidents. It’s not clear how fast the cyclist who hit Tarlov was riding, but Trottenberg said lowering the bike speed limit in the park from 25 is a possibility.
“We’re certainly going to see if there’s something we can do,” she told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. “We certainly hope we’ll never have another tragedy like this one. Everything is on the table.”
Trottenberg said better engineering for crosswalks and other enforcement measures might be considered. A ban on bike racers is also considered an option.
Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, issued a statement about Tarlov’s death:
“Transportation Alternatives is saddened by the senseless death of Jill Tarlov, and our thoughts are with her family. Last Thursday’s fatal crash in Central Park is again focusing much-needed attention on the imperative to safeguard pedestrians’ legal right of way and the mandate for bicyclists and drivers to exercise due care. We hope that information learned in the NYPD investigation into this incident, including the cyclist’s speed as he approached Ms. Tarlov, will inform the city’s response, as it should in every fatal or serious-injury crash.
“In the interest of safety, let us also bear in mind that the epidemic of pedestrian injuries and fatalities caused by motor vehicles is orders of magnitude greater than the problem of reckless cycling. As the tragic stories from crash victims’ families remind us, thousands of New Yorkers are killed or seriously injured each year by motorists who drive too fast and fail to yield to pedestrians and cyclists.
“We call upon the NYPD and district attorneys to use the new Vision Zero tools at their disposal – such as the new law in Section 19-190, which enables authorities to charge vehicle operators who strike pedestrians or cyclists who have the right of way.”
The de Blasio administration launched Operation Safe Cycle last month to go after drivers and cyclists who failed to obey traffic laws. Cyclists throughout the five boroughs received 4,300 tickets, motorists over 3,200.
About half the cyclist violations have were for failure to stop at a red light.
Donations in Tarlov’s memory may be sent to the address below in lieu of flowers
Jill Tarlov Fund
c/o Charles Lenore, Esq
Day Pitney LLP
242 Trumbull Street
Hartford, CT 06103
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