Cyclist Reported Killed in Park Slope


Streetsblog has received word that a cyclist was hit and killed by a school bus this morning at President Street and 8th Avenue in Park Slope.

The Gothamist newsmap (pictured) has the location tagged as the site of an "accident investigation," but we could find no further reports as of yet.

If anyone has news, please leave it in the comments.

  • Larry Littlefield

    This just gets more and more upsetting. And we have to face the fact that more often than not, trucks and vans and buses are involved in these incidents rather than private cars.

  • Geck

    That it awfully close to home for me. I saw the bus and police in the distance this morning as I rode down 8th Ave (turning off a few blocks earlier). 8th Ave narrows and gets congested as it nears Union Street so I usually avoid it there. There really is no great North/South route through Park Slope. Let’s push for a two-way protected lane along the Park separated from traffic with parked cars. PPW needs traffic calming anyway and there is a lot of bike traffic in and out of the park.

  • Sarah

    Here are more details:

    So tragic. I was walking by about 2 hours after is happened and the bus/bike and blood were all still there with police still investigating.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (There really is no great North/South route through Park Slope. Let’s push for a two-way protected lane along the Park separated from traffic with parked cars.)

    I agree. The northbound route is more important because the road through the park is south. I ride home via the park, but go out of my way to avoid north Slope in the AM.

    Sixty years ago, there was a two-way trolley line along the park, separated from two lanes of southbound traffic. Given the width of the street, it would be easy to return to that configuration with two parking lanes and two moving lanes.

    Those double parking to access the park with picnic gear would block the bike lanes, but only on summer weekends.

  • That’s true, Larry, but the remedies can be the same for either case. It’s worth pointing out that congestion pricing (for example) is not one of them, unless the funding it provides and space that it frees is used to build safer infrastructure. We can dislike unnecessary personal driving for lots of good reasons, but to stop the mail trucks and the school busses from killing people we are going to rethink institutional driving (which also has alternatives).

  • Brooklyn

    Absolutely tragic. If the bus was empty, I’ll bet it was speeding.

    It took me two whole days of commuting to avoid 8th Avenue altogether. 6th Ave. is much calmer.

  • Brooklyn

    For any readers not immediately familiar with the area, 8th Ave. is one way northbound, toward Flatbush Avenue, and is an absolute racetrack at any hour of the day.

    Searches on this and other local sites will yield various public debates about the conversion of this street to one-way, and the desire to return it two way.

  • Geck

    Yes. 6th Ave is my preferred route, though it is a bit narrow in the North Slope (which at least keeps most traffic slow).

  • Erik Engquist

    I’ve biked down 8th Ave many times. It narrows where the biker got hit this morning (I saw the mangled bike next to the school bus). If there is any traffic at all, I hop the sidewalk. Yes, that’s illegal (thanks to the City Council). But it’s a lot safer.

  • Ck

    I live near 8th ave and 9th street. There are accidents at my intersection on a weekly basis. The last one I witnessed was Sunday. 8th avenue is very dangerous. Ride 6th or 3rd ave over 8th if possible.

  • This is yet another tragic example of why we need calmer streets.

    8th Avenue and Prospect Park West should be converted to two-way operation. 8th Avenue is the same width as 6th Avenue, I believe, on its north end, and wider to the south. In addition, DOT should install a two-way, physically separated bike lane along PPW. And the 3rd Street entrance should be closed to motor vehicles, as an interim step to the full-time de-motorization of Prospect Park.

  • Sarah

    I forgot to mention that when I was walking by the accident spot this morning there was a resident from a building across the street handing out flyers about going to the Community Six Board Meeting tonight at 6:30pm at Long Island College Hospital 339 HIcks Street Conference Rooms A & B (Atlantic & Hicks Street) to air grievances or call 718-643-3027. Something needs to change. Also, a cop there said to request they put in traffic cameras on 8th Ave for the speeders. Supposedly he said in areas where they do that accident rates go down. I have no idea if that is true but it makes sense.


    Our Streetfilm way back in March 2007 when the DOT tried to convert other Park Slope arteries to one way expressways.

    Who knows how many future lives were saved since the community fought that back. Tragically not enough was done to make 8th Avenue slower….

  • The rider was not wearing a helmet! Blame the bus or the speeding cars or the lack of bike lanes all you want, I am sure they all contribute to the ongoing tragedies. Personally, we as riders, need to PROTECT ourselves. HELMETS do save lives.
    My heart goes out to the loved ones…

  • Marty Barfowitz


    Where did you get that information?

    One of the eye-witness accounts that I’ve read says that the cyclist was indeed wearing a helmet:

    Either way, it is utterly disgusting to blame the victim. A helmet isn’t likely to do much for you if you’re being run over by a school bus. The city needs to get it’s act together and create a real bike infrastructure. Arguing over what kind of outfit cyclists should wear is pretty much besides the point.

  • ParkSloper

    Unfortunately, I was a witness to this awful accident this morning. I called 911 (among others) and stayed on the phone with them until the Fire and EMS arrived. I also reported what I saw to the police at the scene.

    I’m not sure who Jason Wizelman is or where he gets his information from, however the poor man WAS CERTAINLY wearing a helmet! However, given the circumstances of what happened, the helmet could not do nothing to protect him. Please refrain from spreading misinformation.

    I have lived a block away for years, and walk to and from the subway every day along this block. I have been the witness (and participant) to many near-misses with the speeding traffic along 8th Avenue. Today was regrettably very different.

    It is true this is a very dangerous point along 8th where the street narrows between parked cars along each side. To make things worse, the approach to the traffic light at Union Street (a notorious light that always ties up traffic) entices drivers to speed up when they see the opportunity of green.

    I cannot say that speed was at issue with this terrible accident, however the road is certainly too narrow for two lanes of parked cars and two lanes of fast moving traffic, much of it coming from the exit from the Prospect Expressway many blocks away. The east side of parking should be eliminated, and a bike lane should replace more breathing room for all.

    My condolences to the man’s family and friends.

  • The traffic-light timings were supposedly changed on 8th Avenue sometime after Clarence made that StreetFilm a year and a half ago. That helps control the speed of a vehicle driving along as the lights change to green, but it does nothing to slow vehicles that are “catching up” or trying to beat lights changing to red. Like ParkSloper above, I don’t know if speed was a factor in today’s tragedy, but light timings alone aren’t going to solve the dangers.

  • Felix

    Park Sloper, I wonder your neighbors think it’s worth giving up a few parking spaces to save lives. How many spaces is a life worth? Do you think CB6’s transpo committee will support your idea?

  • ParkSloper

    Felix…point very well taken, I do share your pessimism on this.

    The truth is, within these two blocks between Carroll and Union, the east side probably only has only about 10 spots (I’ll check the actual number later), between a school zone, fire hydrants and a bus stop.

    The “official” word says our gripes may not have been at fault this time, update:

  • I live between 5th and 6th, and I climb up to 7th when heading north. I avoid 8th,and I avoid the narrow racetrack of 6th ave. Go to 7th, and take the lane when faced with double parkers. You may find yourself being honked at, but dont worry about that, let them go into oncoming traffic if they cant wait.

    Now I have to go check on my newbie commuter 50 y/o neighbor.

  • pmonk

    Commercial traffic should be banned from 8th Avenue.

    During non rush hours cars for fly down 8th Avenue but during rush hour traffic gets clogged due to Union Avenue.

  • The Brooklyn Eagle has more info about the accident:

  • ronvalron

    couple of things i’d add:

    i drive in a car on this road sometimes, and i did notice that about a year ago that they changed the lights so that if you’re sitting at a red and it turns green that you can’t speed up to more than 17 miles an hour or so without having to hit the brakes at the next light before it too turns green. it seems to calm traffic somewhat.

    i hate — HATE — the double parkers. there are plenty of hydrants and corners and no parking zones — PLEASE do not double park. this, to me, is the most dangerous behavior of all, since i requires bikers and drivers and trucks to swerve and brake.

  • Lumi

    As someone who drives this route early in the morning, I can tell you that the lights on 8th Ave. are timed to 20-mi/hr, except between President and Union, which are only one or two seconds apart. Many drivers speed up right there, probably because of the quick succession of the green light, and perhaps because of their own anxiety about getting in the right spot to deal with the Union St. traffic mess.

  • Tom

    Is there any specific information about the accident? Was it a T-bone? Was he hit from behind? Was it a right hook?

    All I know is the biker was trying to make the light. Does that mean he was hit by cross traffic?

    Does anyone know? Parksloper can you help a brother out?

  • Charles

    Really so much needs to be done in this neighborhood. My wife was struck by a car in hit and run at Union and 8th, just 3 blocks from our home on 8th Avenue. Each day as I cross Union with the walk signal, buses have come and still try to turn fast to cut me off. I don’t know who is guilty but I think cameras need to be placed at these dangerous intersections where vehicle drivers more often than not use their cars as weapons and shields of invincibility.

  • Max Rockatansky

    I’m so sick of people making snide comments about wearing helmets. This was a real person, with family and friends, his life was tragically cut short and all you have to say is he wasn’t wearing a helmet (which apparently isn’t even correct). Where’s the humanity?

  • peter

    Does anybody know who had the right of way? If the accident happened in the intersection, then somebody must have been running a red.

  • emily Gertz

    The cycling community itself needs to step up to the plate, here, as well. When riding counter-clockwise during the day (to avoid 8th and 7th Aves.), I have been cursed at by “serious” riders (road bikes, lycra-clad) doing mid-day laps with their senses of entitlement, even though the road was plenty wide and clear for all, and I was very clearly dressed like someone simply running an errand.

  • This is an absolute tragedy, but if the news reports that he ran the red light are correct, this is yet another wake up call that cyclists need to be better educated about the rules of the road. On my bike, I stop at every stop sign and red light in this city – not just because it’s the law, but because I worry about my safety.

  • t


    I’m assuming you were riding counter-clockwise in Prospect Park. While I share some of your disdain for “serious” riders, I have to admit that it’s still fairly dangerous for you to be riding against the normal riding pattern of the park loop. How much distance are you saving by riding that way? There are also places in the park where you can cut across so you don’t have to ride the entire way around.

    I guess I just find it ironic to be upset at jerky cyclists — who, admittedly, can be jerks — when you are actually doing something that most signs in the park encourage you not to do.

  • I live with my wife and daughter at the corner of President and Eighth Ave. We heard the commotion and sirens. Thank god I was not outside with my young daughter when it happened. I have called 311 many times to complain about speeders at this intersection who try to beat the light. They need to slow down the sequencing of the lights on the avenue to further slow traffic.
    As for the bus, later that day another bus quite literally sped at a clearly excessive speed through the RED light of the same intersection! I copied down the number and company of the bus and will make a complaint but it is like spitting in the ocean.
    Call 311 and complain, anybody who cares, please.
    Can you imagine that they want to turn 7th ave into a one way street?!

  • Larry Littlefield

    “How much distance are you saving by riding that way? There are also places in the park where you can cut across so you don’t have to ride the entire way around.”

    Well, there is that hill on the other side of the park.

    The solution is the two-way cycle track on Prospect Park West, park side.

  • Conrad

    Emily: Not to derail this thread, but what do you mean “counterclockwise”? Do you mean against traffic? If so, please please please stop. The wrong-way cyclists is probably the single-most dangerous obstacle on the road. The fear of being rear-ended is natural but completely unfounded. Always ride with traffic.

  • Interesting Bike Snob (see Blogs links @ right) post about this today…

  • Jane

    Have just written an elegant & sensitive comment all this but when I submitted it, it disappeared into cyberspace so pl forgive if this is less elegant tho will try to keep the sensitivity going…

    I am desparately sad to hear of this poor man’s tragic & unnecessary death. I think the question now is how to prevent others.This very afternoon I drove up 8th Ave past the accident spot; as I was waiting at the lights right beside this spot, I saw a cyclist ride across a red light on the wrong side of the road (incidentally with no helmet) – she was lucky but I am frankly appalled by the cavalier attitude of so many cyclists in this city to the law…they not only disregard traffic lights, road directions etc but ride at night in dark clothes (many) with no lights or reflectors (most); why is this tolerated here? It isn’t in other first world cities. I believe cyclists should have rights but with those rights go responsibilities, not least a duty to obey the law.

    A few yards further on, there stood a van double parked; there was plenty of space for him to park alongside the kerb but he couldnt becos there was a fire hydrant. I realise freeing up the hydrant spaces wouldn’t give many more parking spots to what I call “No-Park Slope ” (apparently only 3% of spaces available at any time ) but what is this big deal with hydrants? In other cities, fire trucks do not expect some 30 feet of space for a foot wide hose, and please don’t tell me that a fire truck is going to parallel park in an emergency… In fact, some months ago I saw a fire truck on an emergency unable to pass a double parked car which had chosen to park this way instead of next to the adjacent hydrant! (By the way I understand many of these hydrants are not even operational). The squeeze on parking spaces caused by hydrants (amongst other things) leads to people justifying double parking.

    Altho I have driven for 35 years and have a clean record, becos my licences were non US, I have recently had to take the full driving test here (inc a 5 hour seminar designed for rookie drivers – aagh!);the one & only abiding lesson I learnt from this rigmarole was how wide the gap is between the theory of how one is supposed to drive in this State and the reality of the actual driving taking place on the street, esp in NYC. And it appears to be tolerated; an example – I asked a policeman to do s’thing abt a car driver nearly running some people (who had the right of way) over on a pedestrian crossing the other day & his response was to shrug his shoulders.

    So my suggestions would be :1. enforce the law for everyone – cyclists, double parkers etc
    2. modernise the law so that anachronisms such as the hydrant thing are no longer adding to the parking problems
    3. zero tolerance for bad driving

    Again my sympathies go to the family of this poor man and let us ALL do our part to reduce the chance of further such accidents.

  • Emily Gertz

    larry wrote:

    >The solution is the two-way cycle track on Prospect Park West, park side.

    Yes, exactly!


    With respect, your points are not well taken..

    On weekdays, outside of commuting hours (when cars are on the road), there is plenty of room for everyone on the loop road.

    On the day Mr. Obnoxious cursed me out, he and a buddy were riding down the outer edge of the road, which is quite usual for the faster riders, and I was riding up the inside (park side). There was a ton of space between us.

    So if you want to talk about signage, well, these two guys were not riding in the bike lane, thus making the park road hazardous for people entering the park.

    >How much distance are you saving by riding that way?

    I saved roughly three quarters of the distance around the park – so, er, 3.75 kilometers out of 5 — and a long uphill haul.

    Not that a desire to save distance while running an errand on a bike is inherently wrong, in any case.

    > There are also places in the park where you can cut across so you don’t have to ride the entire way around.

    The traverses have a number of very isolated spots, and are nearly deserted during the weekdays. Anyone should think twice about taking the traverses during most daylight hours of the weekdays.

    > I guess I just find it ironic to be upset at jerky cyclists — who, admittedly, can be jerks — when you are actually doing something that most signs in the park encourage you not to do.

    This amounts to blaming the messenger. City agencies are not doing enough to make the local avenues safer for me to ride my bicycle in the neighborhood, but I should stick to the letter of city agency rules when I ride through the park the “wrong” way to avoid the dangerous streets?

  • anonymous

    It’s a tragedy and it could happen to any cyclist. But we need to stop reflexively blaming motorists (or pedestrians, or city bureaucrats, or anyone but ourselves) for these inevitable incidents. I saw the rider in question arrogantly riding fast on the sidewalk past pedestrians just a day or two before his fatal crash. He showed not a touch of concern for them as he zoomed by. Others have said that he ran the red light.

    God knows I am guilty of both of these infractions, and worse, in my time. But to innocently throw up our hands and cry for even more privileges as cyclists, when we do not adequately respect others on the road, is an ugly entitlement that ultimately endangers no one more than ourselves.

    My heart goes out to the family. I hope they can forgive me for speaking out this way in their time of grief. The community of elite cyclists needs to own the fact that they are engaged in a dangerous activity whose chief virtue as such is that it endangers themselves more than it endangers others. Unlike aggressive motorcycle riders, or worse, aggressive car and truck drivers.

  • Here’s an eye-witness account of the crash that differs from what was reported in the newspaper:

    Dan Romero
    Posted September 12, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I was approx 30 feet away from this accident and saw it happen. It was the most awful thing I have ever seen. The article is incorrect. The bus and cyclist were traveling side by side. That would mean that if he ran a red light- then so did the bus. He was not hit by the bus as a result of running a red light. The article almost implies that they were perpendicular- not the case- they were parallel. I don’t think it was the bus’ fault, nevertheless. It was just a freak accident. Out of respect for Mr. Millstein, I feel it’s important to set the record straight.

  • I saw the rider in question arrogantly riding fast on the sidewalk past pedestrians just a day or two before his fatal crash. He showed not a touch of concern for them as he zoomed by. Others have said that he ran the red light. […] But to innocently throw up our hands and cry for even more privileges as cyclists, when we do not adequately respect others on the road, is an ugly entitlement […]

    Forgive me if I show some skepticism for this anonymous, unconfirmed report of the most egregious cycling behavior, usually not practiced by “elite” cyclists – linked directly to a glib, caustic reiteration of the latest anti-livable-streets talking points.

    As far as I know, no one is asking for “even more privileges” because of this. The main response is that Eighth Avenue is dangerous, the signal retiming was not enough, and more needs to be done to protect pedestrians, cyclists and people traveling in cars and buses.

    I myself hide behind anonymity, but I do not use it to speak ill of the dead, and I do not take advantage of a man’s death to attack safety initiatives that could have saved his life.

  • anonymous

    I will limit myself to two comments about the above. One is that I am a cyclist and I do support all of the changes that have happened in the last few years to protect cyclists.

    The other is that the reply sort of proves my point. I was not making a political argument; I was sharing a perspective on a reflexive attitude of entitlement that often surrounds such awful but inevitable outcomes.

    Cycling is inherently dangerous. Riding fast is more so. That’s part of why we love it. For a couple of thousand dollars, and a couple of thousand hours of training, we can get an experience of speed, performance, and control that is arguably unsurpassable in high performance sportscars, motorcycles, airplanes, boats, etc. that cost tens or hundreds of times more. Cycling is the most accessible high performance kinetic experience you can get.

    Unlike many posters who seem to think of danger as a sign of some breakdown of the system — something that must be fixed and eliminated through bureaucratic, legislative, and/or behavioral means — I’m saying that it’s something that must be acknowledged and managed responsibly.

    Until we own up to this fact, and commit ourselves to more responsible use of the danger we play with, I believe that we will (with some justice) continue to be perceived as entitled whiners by the vast noncycling public, as nasty elitists by non-performance cyclists, and as illegitimate interlopers by drivers of the cars, trucks, and yes, empty schoolbuses that will always inhabit the roads with us.

  • Cycling is inherently dangerous.

    “anonymous” (please use a more unique title if you’re here for a conversation), every form of transportation is inherently dangerous. People are injured and killed by cars while standing on the sidewalk, or even inside buildings.

    That’s part of why we love it.

    Speak for yourself. That’s not why all cyclists ride. Sometimes we just want a way to get from point A to point B reasonably quickly, without the expense and hassle of a car, maybe on a route where the MTA would require multiple transfers, and hopefully get a little exercise.

    Sure it’s elitist and entitled for people to expect to speed cycle safely, just like it would be to demand safe parachute-jumping or hang-gliding. But we’re not asking for that. We’re asking to be able to go to work without being run over, to go shopping without getting run off the road, and to go to the park without being doored.

    But yes, if the “vast noncycling public” really perceives “us” as danger-loving speed demons, then there could be a problem. The solution is to change that erroneous impression, rather than validating it.

    You acknowledge in your comment that there are “non-performance cyclists.” Why do you assume that they’re not reading and writing on this blog?

  • “You acknowledge in your comment that there are ‘non-performance cyclists.’ Why do you assume that they’re not reading and writing on this blog?”

    For real. This particular anonymous does strike me as a “nasty elitist”, and a rather confused one. Glorification of danger and dismissal of “bureaucratic, legislative, and/or behavioral” mitigation of it are precisely the qualities that characterize NYC’s elite cyclists that everyone else finds so repugnant. Odd that s/he doesn’t see that. But then, mainstream American cycling (athletic 4ever!) has proudly followed this same self-improvement course for the past 50 years of being crushed under the wheels of automobiles; we can’t expect them to change direction in strategy as quickly as they can change lanes on a tricked-out bicycle. Meanwhile, elitist grannies in Copenhagen tool around in relative safety without owning up to any facts or making responsible use of the danger their wrinkled hands play with. What is their secret? Magical shawls that take them to the plane of kinetic transcendence that NYC’s bikesnobbiest strive to attain? Or! Maybe it is their bureaucratic / legislative bicycle infrastructure, demanded from the government by the bunch of “whiners” that finance and put it in power.

    “The article is incorrect. The bus and cyclist were traveling side by side. That would mean that if he ran a red light- then so did the bus. He was not hit by the bus as a result of running a red light. The article almost implies that they were perpendicular- not the case- they were parallel.”

    Seeing as one newspaper report vaguely referred to the cyclist ‘trying to make the light’ (then what, newshound?) and the other described the bus as ‘barrelling’, I was wondering how that could be. When one party to a crash has or nearly has the green light, and the other is moving very fast, it’s hard to construct a scenario where the fast moving vehicle is not at least partially, if not primarily at fault. Dan’s accounting above fills in the blanks that the newspapers chose to leave out.

    I can understand the desire of reporters not to pointlessly tarnish a reputation after the police have declared there was no ‘criminality’ (so it wasn’t intentional?), but their discreetly incomplete reporting does a lot more harm to society than good to the individual. It leaves everyone with the impression that killed cyclists are usually to blame for breaking the law or being careless or not wearing a helmet. (If you think about it, this is a useful delusion for all concerned.) That impression turns out to be all hogwash in this case, but tell that to those who have already made up their minds based on what they read (and didn’t read) in the paper—a thousand misinformed “THIS shows why we/they must obey the RULES of the ROAD!” comments have already been posted across the NYC web, and the cycle of ‘inevitable’ traffic deaths is exonerated once again.

  • Max Rockatansky

    I’m not sure how anonymous is defining a “non-performance cyclist” – would that be a cyclist with a flat tire? However, if you find cycling to be dangerous you’re probably doing it wrong.

  • Car Free Nation

    Anonymous is lying. I’ve rode alongside Jon for many miles, and he never road on the sidewalk; it wasn’t anything he’d even conceive of doing.

  • James

    I’m seeing a lot of false dichotomies being tossed around here. Why does a person on a race bike necessarily represent one type of cycling constituency, while someone else riding a heavy Dutch cruiser represents another? We all want an improved environment for cycling and some of us actually fall into one or more of these false categories depending on the particular context – i.e. one morning I may be commuting on my hybrid, while on another I might be decked out in kit on my road bike on my way to a training ride. I still want the cars to f*#$ off and give me my 3 feet of space and not take me out with a right hook regardless of the circumstances of that particular ride.

  • Cyclist / non-cyclist is its own false dichotomy. I tend to group people into civil / anti-social categories, no matter how they’re travelling at the moment. (But it takes a real angel to be civil while driving an automobile in a city that has no room for it.)

    When you wear a uniform and even flourish a bit of jargon to describe it, people are going to perceive you as belonging to a group. Generally, that is what people want when they dress and talk alike. But that’s beside the point. It’s not racers specifically but people endorsing a particular outlook (a romantic view of deadly surface transportation, opposition to institutional improvements) that slow progress. The only common cause I share with them, wishing that drivers would start driving better of their own accord, is made insignificant by its own futility. Livable streets is the constituency I belong to; we’ve got plenty of jargon but so far, no common apparel.

  • anonymous

    Human aggression is human aggression, regardless of the medium. Bicycle, car, bus. Blog. Fortunately some media are less unilaterally dangerous than others.

    Thanks Doc Barnett for your thoughtful disagreement. You may be right about everything you’ve said about interpretations, but I stand by what I saw: the rider nearly ran me and my dog over, on the sidewalk, just the day before his crash. That’s the reason I posted. I felt that it was too weird a coincidence not to comment on.

  • Marty Barfowitz

    For chrissake, “anonymous,” at least have the simple decency to identify yourself with a real name if you’re going to slander a dead man who can’t speak up to explain his side of the story. Given that the newspaper accounts of the crash had critical details wrong, why in the world should anyone believe an anonymous commenter on a blog? I mean: What’s your point anyway? Are you trying to say that this guy deserved to die, he’s not, in fact, an innocent victim, because he once rode his bike past you on the sidewalk? And by the way: You want to know why cyclists sometimes ride their bikes on the sidewalk in New York City? It’s because cyclists are still getting killed on our neighborhood streets with frightening regularity. Anyway… shame on you.

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