Cyclist in Critical Condition After Hit-and-Run on Second Avenue

cyclist_struck.jpgImage: NY1

Robert Bowen, 45, was bicycling south on Second Avenue near 59th Street last night when he was struck by a truck driver who didn’t stop at the scene. He sustained severe trauma to the body, according to police, and was taken to Cornell Hospital in critical condition. NY1 reports:

Sources say 45-year-old Robert Bowens was riding in the bus lane and
was hit by a flatbed truck while switching out of the lane, which was
blocked by a Verizon truck working on a manhole.

The truck fled the scene.

A Verizon crew that was working in the area came to the man’s aid.

NYPD’s public information office said the investigation is still ongoing and that no one has been identified or arrested yet.

The crash happened near the Queensboro Bridge just after 11 p.m. In DOT’s original corridor plan for re-designing First and Second Avenues, street segments near the crash location were slated to receive shared lane markings on the opposite side of the street from where Bowen was struck. Those street changes are on hold, along with other safety improvements north of 34th Street that face an uncertain future.

  • momos

    There was also a horrible car/pedestrian accident yesterday around 7:00 pm at 42nd St and Madison Ave. By-standers said a man was knocked off his feet by a taxi, then hit by a tour bus. He appeared to be stable, but seriously injured.

  • Just to expand on some thoughts stated in another thread, we can only wonder if bike lanes along this particularly dangerous section of Second Avenue might have made a difference. Not that sharrows are going to do much to protect a cyclist forced out of the bus lane and into the path of a flat bed truck, and at night. DOT should reconsider the use of protected bike lanes in high-traffic areas around bridges and tunnels. The new East Side bike lanes are a definite improvement but they’re of limited value if cyclists can’t safely pass the Queensboro Bridge or the Midtown Tunnel.

  • MRN

    I’m guessing criminality is suspected in this case.

  • @MRN,

    Only because the perp fled. Stay on the scene, and as long as your blood-alcohol level is below 0.08%, you’re looking at a ticket at worst.

  • Bolwerk

    Bike lanes in New York usually seem fatally (literally) flawed to me. They’re rarely buffered, and even when they are, they are contiguous with the street. They should be contiguous with the sidewalk, so drivers aren’t even tempted to drive on them.

  • BicyclesOnly

    This is very sad news and just another example
    of a motorist treating a cyclist’s life as worthless. I hope they use all the videocameras in that part of town to catch the trucker.

    Real-world, DoT was never going to do more in the left lane of Second Ave. than put sharrows in, and even that would have caused more problems than it solved. There’s just too much motor vehicle traffic being dumped into this residential neighborhood by the Queensboro Bridge to create a safe bike path along the left side of Second.

    One could move it to the right-hand side, but it would probably have to be on the outside, not the curbside, of the bus lane. Or, detour southbound bike traffic to First, run a counterflow bike lane on First between 60th and 59th (under the tunnel), then a lane back up 59th to the left hand of Second.

  • @Bolwerk: I’m guessing that you haven’t been observant of the tremendous changes to bike lane design that NYC has seen in the last three years, or the discussion about the East Side bike lanes that this crash fits into?

    What you are talking about has just been implemented below 14th St., but the City has backed away from providing this infrastructure about 14th St. They may very well have traded driver convenience for this person’s life.

  • Is there a reason that Verizon and Con Ed crews could not put up plastic lane dividers to create a bike lane around their sites? Particularly if they are blocking a lane used by bikes.

  • s

    This is a far too common danger. Construction & maintenance crews set up wherever they please, often blocking bike lanes, forcing cyclists, pedestrians and other motorists out into thick & fast traffic.
    Best hopes for this man’s recovery.

  • I adore the protected lanes on 8th and 9th avenues, but most of those lane miles are in already pretty neighborhoods that were somewhat bike-friendly to begin with. Where the protected lanes are truly needed are in the traffic sewers of Manhattan and other boros. If anything, the 8th Avenue lane should *start* at 23rd St and extend all the way to Columbus Circle, so one can get through the traffic hell of midtown alive and uninjured. Has anyone noticed that the 6th Avenue bike lane, which is only paint, stops at 42nd St., just where the uptown traffic gets *really* bad? I feel like it sends a subtle message every time: “Okay, we’ve indulged you on your bike long enough. From here forward, you’re taking your life into your hands and we won’t be held responsible.”

  • SurlyRider

    Okay, I’m, confused here. Why did the bike rider leave his lane, and enter someone else’s lane with out confirming it was clear to do so? We are all using vehicles, and when I need to change lanes on my bike, I look, signal, visually sweep the area, and then when safe I move over into the other lane. Being on a bike isn’t a license to ignore the rules and responsibilities of the road. This doesn’t excuse the driver for leaving the scene of the accident.

    Applying the logic that the accident itself was the tow truck driver’s fault is like saying that I don’t need to signal or look in my mirrors if I am driving my car on a multi-lane highway and my lane has a slow moving vehicle in it. I can just turn my wheel, move into the other lane, and if another vehicle hits me, it is their fault.

    We are all responsible for the movement of our vehicles out there. I hope this person fully recovers.

  • JamesR

    FWIW, other cities deal with the issues of construction within bicycle corridors must better than NYC does. I was up in Montreal earlier this summer and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a downtown “bike detour lane” that the work crews had set up with cones, parallel to the real bike lane under which they were doing utility work. It was classy, thoughtful, and unassuming, as if though were unthinkable to do things any other way. Cyclists also made plentiful use of this makeshift lane and cars just dealt with the reduced right of way with nary a honk.

  • David Ramael

    Robert Bowen passed away yesterday due to injuries sustained in the accident. He was a world class double bass player, who played all the major jazz clubs in the city, as well as an excellent teacher at Hofstra University.

    he will be sorely missed by all his colleagues and friends.

  • Dennis

    Leaving behind a wonderful family…. he will be missed!

  • Lucinda

    Bob was extended family. Great guy, excellent musician, and someone who cared about the world. God bless his entire family, especially the kids.

  • Rose Markisello

    God bless the two children he leaves behind, he will be missed. Ami hang in there.

  • Bob’s death is so tragic, and was preventable. The truck driver reportedly was speeding, swung wide, hit Bob, and took off. Hopefully, he will surrender, or be apprehended, and held accountable.

    Bob was a fantastic and gifted musician, and a great dad. He will be missed.

  • Jerry

    I can only hope that the last part of the above article was a sneaky way of getting the truck driver to turn himself in rather than an attempt to question Bob’s safety practices as a cyclist–otherwise it’s despicable, an early shot, on the part of the city, to head off a massive lawsuit. And Eric McClure, I hope you’re a cop planting misinformation to lure the “perp” in. If not, you should be ashamed of yourself. If you’ve checked out the internet, you would discover that Bob Bowen has a legion of mourners who don’t need to hear that kind of crap right now. Even if the driver was plastered on goofballs and bourbon, Bob would have kissed him on the cheek and forgiven him on the spot, saying, “Man, everybody makes mistakes.” When the driver finds out about the human being he took from this world, if he has any heart at all, he will be destroyed by this incident, utterly destroyed. And he will have a lifetime of Bob’s recorded music to listen to in Rikers. In the last several years, Bob had logged hundreds of miles on the road, and I’m certain he knew what he was doing, though it always worried me. I simply can’t believe this. I had never met a man so full of life. And I’m not talking about that base-jumping, sky-diving kind of brain-damaged shit, I’m talking about a boundless curiosity, a body and mind perfectly built to write and perform and converse about music, a guy who made Mother Teresa look like a mooch. Please don’t turn Bob into a statistic. He was a force of nature.

  • David

    Has anyone seen more information on this in the news or anywhere else? I can’t find anything else about this anywhere and I want to figure out a way to use the vast cycling blogosphere and web 2.0 presence in and around NYC to cast a net for this guys who took off from the scene. Please respond here with links if you have found them. Having known Bob my entire life, I agree with the above comment that Bob would have forgiven this guy on the spot. That said, this person also needs to face justice and be held accountable for robbing this planet of one of the most amazing spirits and souls I’ve ever met. Feel free to contact me directly at this email if you have any links to news, discussion threads, or thoughts on how to pull this together:

  • No, Jerry (above)…

    What Eric was referring to is the fact that over and over, when a bicyclist or pedestrian is killed by a driver, even in the face of clear evidence that the driver was breaking traffic laws or driving in a dangerous manner, the NYPD and district attorneys will almost never press any charges if the driver (1) is not drunk and (2) stays at the scene.

    Welcome to this discussion. As a group we are constantly infuriated when one of our fellow walkers, transit riders, or cyclists is mowed down in an act of motor vehicle violence and there is little to no penalty imposed on a clearly culpable motorist. It sickens us all.

  • Peter from Stuy Town

    Awful to hear. Condolences to his family and friends.

  • Jerry

    Sorry about that, Ian and Eric. I’ve been thinking about this for days–whether or not I misunderstood the tone–but I kept coming back to the statistical information as the proof of weird intent. But I do see now that Eric was bemoaning the slap on the wrist the guy would have received if he’d stayed on the scene. This sort of misunderstanding is why I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve commented on something on the internet. I do understand that this is both an “issue” and a “personal tragedy” but I’m not ready for the issue part to kick in because I knew Bob well. I thank you for your graciousness in clearing this up. Also, as mentioned above, why isn’t there more information about this?

  • David Wolfe

    Bob was my bass teacher and my friend. Got me my first job and made me a true musician. He is missed more than I can express. As a biker I hope the city can see this as a reason to add the segmented bike lanes to all main thoroughfares. Accidents like this are preventable and I want to see some good come of this.

  • alan resnick

    I noticed last nightJan111th 2011) that there is a poster requesting information regarding “flat bed” truck involved in a fatal accidnet August 26 -on a pole at 60th and 2nd. I pass this location occasionally and believe it is a NEW sign. Hope it iilicites some info.
    Sadly, I know about this as I was on-call and involved in the OR with the accident.


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