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Bicycle Safety

Central Park 66th Street Transverse Is Unsafe

1:45 PM EDT on August 22, 2007

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.

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