Central Park 66th Street Transverse Is Unsafe

A Streetsblog reader brings us an update on the case of the cyclist killed last December in the Central Park Transverse, through information obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request.

In the documents sent to Streetsblog, it shows that the motor vehicle "struck the bicyclist as both vehicles attempted to merge into the same path in lane to avoid wooden barrier in roadway." As the very short video above, taken this week, shows, not only is the wooden barrier still in place, causing extremely tight conditions on the roadway, but there is a large pothole on the right side of the lane, exacerbating the problem. Here are current photos of the scene.

1202252273_7a30823557_m.jpgAn eyewitness driving behind the car that hit the cyclist reports: "The bike and the car came together where the road narrowed. He (the motorist) hit her (the cyclist) with the mirror of the car and she hit a wooden divider and fell over the divider onto the sidewalk. The driver stopped about a half-mile down the road, that is when I told him he hit someone."

According to the report, the cyclist did have reflectors on the bike, but was not wearing reflective clothing or a helmet. (The collision happened at approximately 6:30 p.m.)

Initially a breath test was conducted on the driver, which produced no evidence of alcohol consumption. No charges were made against the motorist. The injured cyclist later died of head wounds suffered from the crash. Then on March 15, the driver was issued a summons for "Violation of VTL 1146, Failure to exercise due care." The driver stated he would plead not guilty. Here is the definition of "Due Care" by the NY State DOT:

1146 Drivers to exercise due care. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, pedestrian or domestic animal upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.

On Saturday April 7, the final determination was made by the investigating police officer that "the possible contributing factors in this accident are due to the operator of the vehicle failing to exercise due care in the presence of a bicyclist and the bicyclist’s failure to have the required safety equipment." It is not stated in the documents we received whether a court date was set or if a decision had been made.

Streetsblog will continue to investigate and bring you more as we know it. In the meantime, be extremely careful if you use the 66th Street transverse to bike across town, especially going west-bound. It is not safe. It is unclear what purpose the wooden barrier serves. We hope to determine this over the next few days.

  • Steve

    This appears to be a case where NYPD reported the bicyclist at fault, at least potentially, based on an equipment violation that did not have anything to do with the collision or may not even have existed. So I would not put too much faith in the recent Daily News claim that bicyclists are at fault in the majority of collisions in two Brooklyn Precincts.

  • ddartley

    “…be extremely careful if you use the 66th Street transverse….”

    Yeah: stay out in the middle of the lane. Don’t “courteously” push yourself to the edge.

    Of course lights/reflectors help. Motorists should indeed be obligated to exercise due care, but cyclists should be obligated to make themselves visible. But that doesn’t mean just lights and reflectors. It also means taking up space–often a full lane.

    And off topic, here’s the revision I dream will one day be made to the definition of “due care:”

    “and shall give warning by sounding the horn calling out vocally when necessary.”

  • Yeah, while it is recommended to wear reflective clothing and a helmet, these are not required. And the bike did have a reflector on the bike, although no mention is made of a light being present or not.

  • Ken

    One reason cyclists use the Central Park transverses is that there is no legal way to cross Central Park on a bike unless you happen to be going east to west at 72nd St. The park paths are festooned with “no bicycling” signs and tickets are issued. Certain paths should be designated as crossing points for cyclists who obey a reasonable speed limit and yield to other path users. Lives could be saved.

  • Ray

    I suspect that the barrier exists to keep trucks or other high vehicles from hitting the edge of the overpass where the clearance is quite low.

  • Steve

    Ray, that never ocurred to me. If so, we are endangering lives in order to avoid property damage by motorists who fail to heed the low clearance sign. Some trade-off!

  • Excellent point Ray.

  • momos

    Trucks are banned from all the parkways in and out of the city. Why on earth are they allowed to roar through the single most important public space in Manhattan?

  • galvo

    my revised definition of due care
    “due care:”“drivers must reduce speed and/ or stop to avoid hitting a pedestrians or bicyclist.
    this current definition of just blowing the horn and plowing through squeezing them off the road causing injuries and deaths is a load of crap

  • mork

    A driver cited for failure to exercise due care is huge. I can’t recall ever hearing of this charge — and it’s a good sign that it’s now on the police radar.

  • steve

    The Sec. 1146 summons is significant–esp. If family of victim intends to sue. I have never encountered a cop aware of the protection for bicyclists under 1146, and the months of delay between the collision and the summons suggests intervention by city lawyers. A clear violation of 1146, since sign said “slow” and (according to Flickr photo commentary) motorist hit victim at 30 MPH. Since 30 MPH is the limit, “slow” commands something less than 30 MPH.

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