2006-08-22 Bicycle Death Trend - AM New York

AM New York (Newsday, Inc.)
Justin Rocket Silverman
August 22, 2006

A spate of recent cyclist deaths have advocates worried that the city is headed for a repeat of last year, when they believe 24 New Yorkers lost their lives while riding a bicycle.

"We feel the city is creating a hostile climate towards cyclists," said Bill DiPaola of the bike advocacy group Times Up. "The city has to look at these tragedies and recognize the urgent need for change."

The most recent death occurred Sunday, when Keith Powell, 34, was riding through the intersection of East 92nd Street and Avenue L in Canarsie.

According to witnesses, a blue Ford and a red Acura were drag racing at top speed when the Ford hit Powell's bicycle. The cyclist was thrown from the bike and landed a dozen feet away.

The driver parked the car a few blocks away and fled the scene. Police said the Ford was stolen, and they are looking for the driver.

Powell was the eighth cyclist to be killed on city streets this year, according to Times Up.

Police figures cite 22 cyclist deaths in 2005, slightly fewer than advocates' numbers, primarily because police only include bike fatalities that involve a motor vehicle.

Yet in the past month alone, two bike messengers, Darren Lewis, 20, and Jonathan Neese, 34, were killed while riding.

Ten-year-old Shamar Porter of Brooklyn was also run down and killed by a minivan this month while biking home from a little league game.

In response to numerous cyclist deaths this summer, the city's Department of Transportation is planning a safety training program for motorists.

The city has a Bike Master Plan on record that recommends the construction of numerous bike lanes and other safety improvements, but no date has been set for its implementation.