Mary Beth Kelly: From Tragedy to Advocacy

Mary Beth Kelly’s story is as inspirational as they come.

In June 2006, she and her husband Dr. Carl Henry Nacht were bicycling home from dinner on the Hudson River Greenway in Chelsea when an NYPD tow truck turned sharply into the bike lane at 38th Street and 12th Avenue. Despite signs telling drivers to yield to pedestrians and cyclists, the tow truck did not slow down as it headed toward a riverfront
tow pound. The truck struck Carl , injuring him severely. He died four
days later.

Bicycling was an integral part of Carl and Mary Beth’s lives. Their first date was done on bikes and they often took their bikes on vacation. A physician at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, Carl regularly used his bike to commute to the work and to make in-home visits to sick patients.

Rather than forsaking cycling after Carl’s death, Mary Beth and her children Zoe and Asher got right back on their bicycles. Perhaps most important, Mary Beth has emerged as an outspoken  and eloquent advocate for New York City cyclists. She now serves on the advisory council for Transportation Alternatives where she is working to create and pass comprehensive complete streets legislation in honor of her husband.

  • kelley

    Thank you. Thank you to StreetFilms for producing such a touching clip, and most of all thank you to Mary Beth Kelly for becoming an advocate for cycling. May you touch many people’s hearts in memory of your husband, and may this city become safer for cyclists and pedestrians so that deaths like that of Dr. Carl Henry Nacht will stop being senselessly repeated.

  • Dave H

    As usual, good film from Clarence. The music may be a bit much for me though (don’t want to be critical, just honest).

  • Sick Of It All

    On one hand, its incredibly inspiring to see how Gandhi like Mary Beth Kelly is.

    But American drivers will continue to kill New Yorkers until it has some negative effects for them. Thats their calculus.

    So what do we do?

    Do we have to spike their tires?

    Do we have to smash their windshields?

    Do we have to pull out a revolver and blow their heads off?

    What will it take to impress upon these foreigners that their behavior isn’t acceptable here?


    Because I REALLY hope someone can come up with suggestions better than mine.

    But if the alternative is to allow murderers to freely roam our city with their two ton lethal weapons, “accidentally” killing pedestrians and cyclists, maybe retaliation is the only response.

    I hope to God I’m wrong, and that we can find some other way of coming to terms with those who want to clog our streets, pollute our air, and KILL OUR CITIZENS, but based on almost 50 years of living in NYC and the states, I don’t think I am.

    Any suggestions?

    Think as if you were going to be run over and murdered tomorrow and it’s your last suggestion, because maybe it is.

    Some guy in Jersey just started up his SUV and its coming your way.

  • brooke

    Mary Beth is an extraordinary woman and I can only imagine that her husband was also. I wish I had the chance to meet him.

    Lovely video Clarence and Elizabeth, thank you.

  • Christine Berthet

    What a beautiful piece this is !
    Mary Beth is so quitely determined, she is a rock …
    Zero fatalities in 2020, why not in 2015 ? that is a commitemnt wewant to get from our NYCity candidates.

  • Christine Berthet

    Sick of it all, I knwo exactly how you feel
    lets keep the politicians feet to the fire. i fhtey want to be elected we want zero fatalities ..

  • ken wade

    I have been riding a bike in NYC for more then 30 years and have had many close encounters of a dangerous kind. I was deeply sadden to read of the death of Dr. Carl Nacht as I had once been his patient and thought he a fine man and doctor. It was wonderful to see the film and MaryBeth’s inspiring work on behalf of the people of our city. Thank you film makers for a great job and most important thank you MaryBeth for your outstanding work.



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