Update: Cab driver Nojeem Odunfa of the Bronx was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, careless driving, and a right of way violation, according to NYPD. Odunfa was not immediately charged for killing Jerrison Garcia, and, if past patterns hold, he won’t be. Aggravated unlicensed operation carries nominal penalties and tends to be the default charge against sober unlicensed drivers who kill cyclists and pedestrians in NYC.
For the third time in two years, a driver has killed a cyclist at the same Park Avenue intersection, under the Metro-North viaduct in East Harlem. In addition to recent fatalities, data show that Park Avenue along the viaduct is a hotspot for cyclist injuries.
At around 5:15 this morning, a livery cab driver traveling southbound on Park turned left into Jerrison Garcia, who was also southbound, at E. 108th Street, according to DNAinfo.
Blood stains at the intersection marked the roughly 80 feet that police said Garcia was dragged until the livery cab came to a rest on 108th Street.
Garcia, 25, was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital. The 65-year-old driver, who reportedly works for Glory Car and Limo Service, was taken into police custody. NYPD told Gothamist “it was more than likely he would be charged with driving with a suspended license.”
Park Avenue is divided by the viaduct from E. 102nd Street northward. There is parking on northbound and southbound Park Avenue along this stretch, but there is no designated lane for cyclists, who must share one narrow through-lane with moving vehicles while negotiating intersections with limited visibility.
Motorists killed cyclists Marvin Ramirez and Shaquille Cochrane at Park and E. 108th in June 2013 and July 2012, respectively. Ramirez was biking east on E. 108th when he was struck by a northbound driver, reports said. NYPD told Streetsblog the driver who killed Cochrane was southbound on Park, and that Cochrane was headed west, against traffic, on E. 108th when he was struck. NYPD preemptively blamed the deceased cyclist for each crash.
Crash data posted by Ben Wellington on I Quant NY this morning indicates there were six additional crashes resulting in cyclist injuries on Park Avenue between E. 106th and E. 110th Streets from April to September 2013. “Obviously no single accident is predictable at any given time,” wrote Wellington, “but if we want to get serious about Vision Zero, let’s make patterns like these repeat less often.”
There were 38 pedestrian injuries on Park Avenue from E. 96th Street to E. 111th Street, 15 cyclist injuries, and 208 injuries to motor vehicle occupants from 2007 to 2011, according to DOT. A DOT project introduced earlier this year will improve pedestrian safety with new concrete and signal alterations, but no bike infrastructure was included. Streetsblog has asked DOT if bike infrastructure improvements are planned for Park Avenue along the viaduct.