December 3, 2006
Police have charged Eugenio Cidron with vehicular manslaughter after driving the West Side Highway bike path for at least a mile and fatally hitting bicyclist Eric Ng on Friday night. Cidron, who had been drinking at a company party at Chelsea Piers, was also charged with drunk driving and reckless endangerment. Cidron’s brother told the Post, “This is the first time I ever heard of him drinking and driving. He was saddened by what happened, he was distraught, he couldn’t believe what happened.”
At the center of the accident is how vehicles are able to get onto what is supposed to be space for bicyclists. The NY Times explains how Cidron got onto the bike path:
Mr. Cidron traveled south along a cobblestone access road after leaving a Chelsea Piers parking facility and apparently meant to turn onto the West Side Highway, park workers said yesterday morning.
But he cut his turn short and ended up on the bicycle path instead.
To do so, he had to drive over or around a narrow, three-foot plastic pylon mounted south of where the bike path intersects the Chelsea Piers access road. The park workers repaired the pylon yesterday.
It was the only physical barrier visible yesterday anywhere along the section of the path where Mr. Cidron had driven.
Philipp Rassmann of Time’s Up, said, “Several weeks ago I saw a taxi on the bike path near the north end of the Piers. He asked me how to get onto the highway saying that he was lost. This is the one safe space I can ride without having to keep my guard up all the time.”
Ng, who was raised in East Brunswick, NJ and recently graduated from NYU, had been biking from the Knitting Factory to a party in the East Village. Ng was in the New York City Teaching Fellowship program; he was substitute teaching at Automotive High School in Brooklyn, awaiting a permanent position. His father, who the Times reports put the reflectors on Ng’s new bike, said, “We are going to miss him.” (The Times adds that it wasn’t clear if the bike had light, which are also required by law.)
The city did announce an ambitious bike safety improvement plan in September, but will it be enough? Our commenters have been debating bicycling, drunk driving, and the city’s role in creating safe spaces for bicyclists. And Time’s Up and Visual Resistance are planning a memorial ride and ghost bike installation in honor of Ng later this week.