NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered the NYPD to crack down on dangerous drivers after another bicyclist was killed in a collision Monday.
We’re only halfway through 2019 and, so far, twice as many cyclists have died in accidents than all of last year, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reports.READ MORE: Road To Reopening: Busy Rehearsal Studios Offer A Sign Of Hope As NYC Artists Prepare To Return To The Stage
The mayor released the following statement Monday evening:
“We are seeing a dangerous surge in cyclist deaths on our streets, and we are taking action. 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. No loss of life on our streets is acceptable. Last year was the safest year on record—and we have to keep pushing the envelope and increasing our efforts until we achieve Vision Zero.”
The most recent incident happened Monday afternoon when 28-year-old Devra Freelander was struck and killed by a cement truck in Brooklyn. Investigators say the truck had the green light at the intersection of Boerum Street and Bushwick Avenue in Williamsburg when it collided with Freelander.
“He said it wasn’t his fault because the girl was crossing from the sidewalk and he has the green light for him to pass, and the girl went into the truck, slid in the middle and she got hit by the rear tires,” witness Jammam Yafai said.
The truck driver stayed at the scene. No charges have been filed.
Hours later, cycling advocates rallied in Brownsville, where 57-year-old cyclist Ernest Askew was hit and killed by a car last week.
“He was a beautiful person,” the victim’s aunt said.
“I would like to say to our mayor, as he does what he’s doing around the country, that he needs to pay attention right now because we’re having an epidemic that cannot be explained,” cycling advocate Courtney Williams said.
“This is just egregious inaction from my city officials. People are dying,” one man said.READ MORE: New York Lawmakers Propose Creating Highway Safety Corridor On Southern State Parkway
The NYPD says 14 cyclists have died in accidents across the city so far in 2019, compared to seven deaths overall in 2018.
Just last week, 20-year-old Robyn Hightman was killed after colliding with a truck in Chelsea while riding her bike. That driver was issued summonses but was not arrested.
“We need to look at the redesigns of streets,” Eric Adams, Brooklyn borough president, said.
“We need to make sure that we’re encouraging drivers to think about, when they’re making turns, think about bicyclists,” councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuels said.
But some drivers argue cyclists can be just as reckless.
“You make a left, a right, sometimes the bike comes so fast,” Juan Alvarado said. “Some people is riding like the bike is like a car.”
“The bikers are in the twilight zone. You ever watch a biker drive by? He doesn’t see you. He’s listening to his music,” Tony Schatzie said. “The bikers, they’re just as bad as the people who drive the cars.”
The city transportation department tells CBS2 it will be redoubling Vision Zero efforts and plans to add more bike lanes around the city.
“Vision Zero cannot be a bumper sticker. It has to be a reality,” Adams said.MORE NEWS: NYPD: 4 Suspects In Custody After 3 Subway Riders Slashed Within Minutes In Lower Manhattan
The city says it will release details for the new cyclist safety plan later this month.