Dershowitz Death Illuminates Dangers Faced By Greenway-Bound Cyclists


Green lines are major north-south bike routes; red lines represent obstacles to the West Side Greenway; purple lines are wide, dangerous crosstown streets; and orange lines are westbound connections to the greenway. View a larger map.

Streetsblog reader Mark Davis has put together a map showing how greenway-bound cyclists are funneled through the West 29th Street tunnel where Marilyn Dershowitz was killed on Saturday.

Dershowitz, 68, was riding with her husband Nathan at around noon when she was hit by the driver of a US Postal Service truck just west of Ninth Avenue, underneath a building overhang that straddles the street. She later died at Bellevue Hospital. The driver, who claimed he was unaware he hit someone, did not stop after the collision. He has not been charged.

As Davis’s map shows, there is no other continuous westbound greenway connection between 17th and 43rd that isn’t a wide and dangerous street.

“The project advisory committee of the DOT Hell’s Kitchen Study (which covers this area) has proposed a number of east-west connections,” says Christine Berthet, co-founder of the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety. “Hopefully the DOT bicycle team will accelerate their implementation. Unless these bike paths are protected, nothing will prevent another tragedy like this one.”

Marilyn Dershowitz was one of three people known to have been killed by a driver last week in Manhattan. On Thursday, 78-year-old Yolanda Casal died when an unlicensed driver chasing a parking spot backed into her and her daughter on Amsterdam Avenue. Chinatown pedestrian Kok Hoe Tee was killed Friday when an NYPD Auxiliary officer drove a department van onto the sidewalk after reportedly confusing the accelerator with the brake. Streetsblog is awaiting word from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance regarding Edwin Carrasco, who hit Yolanda Casal, but as of this writing none of the drivers involved in these fatalities were reported charged.

“I am sickened by this death,” says Berthet, “and the fact that this driver is probably driving his truck again.”

Witnesses say the driver of a postal truck was jockeying for space with another vehicle when he fatally struck Marilyn Dershowitz. Photo: ##http://www.dnainfo.com/20110702/chelsea-hells-kitchen/marilyn-dershowitz-sisterinlaw-of-alan-dershowitz-killed-by-mail-truck-while-cycling##DNAinfo##
  • Digitalman225

    It’s going to get worse,The Postal Service is moving all the mail processing from The Bronx to Morgan.More trucks in Chelsea…Call your Congressman.

  • Mike

    Map corrections:
    8th Ave is not a protected bike lane above 34th St.9th Ave is not protected below 16th St.Broadway is not protected below 17th St, or through Times Square.

  • Kencam

    I have been riding through that tunnel since last fall.  The USPS trucks through there are being driven in a menacing and reckless manner.  It always seemed dangerous, but the construction on 33rd Street was worse.  Starting today I think I’ll stick to the construction obstacles.

  • Shannon

    I can relate – I work on 31st and 6th and live on the UWS.  Getting downtown is pleasant enough via Broadway, but getting uptown is harder.  I used to take 33rd St over then do a one block sort of illegal shuffle on the sidewalk along 12th up to the greenway entrance at 34th.  But after a couple of close calls and seeing someone get doored right in front of me, I don’t bike to work anymore.  Having to be hypervigilant takes all the enjoyment out of it.  It would be great if 8th Avenue really were protected all the way up to Columbus Circle!

  • Anonymous

    the green does not represent protected bike lanes, but class 1 (protected) or class 2 (unprotected) lanes.  I woudl love to represent more detail, but not at the cost of added complexity.  what I do want the map to show is that there is a great network of north/south travel and it is connected every 2-4 blocks above 42nd street and below 18th street, but the over a mile in between is a dessert that forces people into dangerous and illegal situations.

    this area has 3 MAJOR transit hubs and lots of offices.  if new york is serious about bicycle commuting it should patch the gaps in the network.

  • Anonymous

    Have you considered taking the 8th avenue lane to 43rd street to the west side bike path?

  • The Spin Guru

    When the NYPD are the worst drivers in NYC who run reds, turn without signaling, switch lanes without signaling as well as drive and park in bike lanes, how you expect anyone to pay attention or drive legally?

  • Mike

    @mistermarkdavis:disqus The caption says “Green lines are protected bike routes”.

  • We wrote the caption, not Mark. We amended the label to “major north-south bike routes.”

  • Driver

    Because the rest of us can actually get ticketed for these offenses.  On occasion anyway.

  • @mistermarkdavis: that stretch of Eighth Avenue between 39th and 42nd is a complete mess for cyclists… I hate riding through there. If that weren’t the case, 43rd Street would be a good bet.

  • bikemachine

    I read that the incident was caught on camera. Has there been any word on what was seen?

  • Tom (Abroad)

    Thought should be given to the lighting levels on radways under all overhangs/overpasses/elevated highways during daylight and at night.  This is a constant danger for all uses.  Some standard of illumination should be sought.

  • Guest

    Shannon – you are right on the mark. Coming from midtown East, I found the least treacherous route getting to the upper west side was to take Park Ave south, Vanderbilt, Park Ave (the worst stretch), and then get in Central Park at 60th street. Compare this to taking Broadway from Columbus Circle to my destination while going south.

    Unlike you, I was dumb enough to keep biking despite the danger. Now I’ve moved to a city much safer for bikers (why? Streets are regularly one lane, occasionally 2, never more than 3 lanes of traffic in each direction!)

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