Protect our bicyclists is cry after two deaths in Brooklyn accidents
New York Daily News
September 15, 2008
By Christina Boyle
Sunday, September 14th 2008, 10:28 PM
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For bicyclists, it’s the cruelest of times.
Two recent fatal accidents in Brooklyn served as a stark reminder that the summer months are especially treacherous, with the fatal accidents historically peaking in August and September, according to a city Department of Transportation report.
“It’s great and healthy to cycle, except you do take your life in your hands,” said Tony Patellis, 57, of the upper West Side, who has been cycling for 35 years.
“They keep saying that the city likes to pride itself on being bike-friendly, but other than the West Side Highway bike path, it’s absolutely not.”
The deaths of 8-year-old Alexander Toulouse, who was struck by a postal truck in Brooklyn Heights on Sept. 6, and of Jonathan Millstein, 50, who was slammed by a school bus in Park Slope, Brooklyn, four days later, brought the cyclist death count this year to nine.
“This just shows that the streets are taking a toll on the most vulnerable users,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesman Wiley Norvell.
He said that, of the nine deaths so far, two have been children and three have been people older than 50.
“Those are people who generally need the benefits of a protective space to cycle, and for whom a painted bike lane and two white stripes doesn’t cut it,” Norvell said. “It’s still just not safe enough.”
Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is a strong bike advocate who regularly cycles to work.
“We are doing everything we can to build on the sweeping bicycle safety measures we’ve instituted in the last year to make the streets of New York safer for everyone on two wheels,” Sadik-Khan said in a statement.
Yet despite a multimillion-dollar drive to encourage cycling and plans to install 200 miles of bike lanes across the five boroughs by next year, the dangers of negotiating the city’s traffic-clogged streets continue.
“On one end, we commend the mayor and the DOT commissioner for adding more bike lanes and pushing for new innovative ideas to increase cycling,” said Barbara Ross of the environmental action group Time’s Up. But she also criticized the city for not doing a better job enforcing existing traffic laws.