Trucker Kills Cyclist; Daily News: Are Bikes More Dangerous Than Cars?

A truck driver ran over and killed a 29-year-old male cyclist in Brooklyn this morning, the Daily News reports. According to the write-up, the driver turned right from Metropolitan Avenue onto Gardner Avenue, crushing the unidentified cyclist as he tried to pass on the right side of the truck. The driver did not realize he’d struck someone and had to be flagged down by another truck driver. Police have reviewed surveillance video and will not file charges against him.

The News presents the NYPD’s reasoning like so:

“The bicyclist was at fault,” a police source said. “He should have seen the driver was about to turn. The bicyclist tried to rush by and you can’t do that. The driver had to be going about 5 m.p.h.”

While we soon learn that the cyclist was wearing a helmet, the piece does not inform readers whether the truck driver signaled his turn, whether the truck was equipped with the proper mirrors, or whether the driver should have been able to see the victim before turning into him and crushing his skull.

To cap it off, the Daily News included this poll:

So I guess that’s how to settle the question of what causes crashes. If only there was some rigorous data and analysis the Daily News could get its hands on instead.

  • Joe R.

    “So stop fantasizing about infrastructure solutions. Start changing your own behavior and start demanding others change theirs. Because when I’m on the street, all I see are irresponsible actors: drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, one and all.”

    That’s all good and well but fact is all you control are you.  Thinking everyone else will behave better is an even bigger fantasy than hoping one day we’ll all finally have decent cycling infrastructure.  The bad behavoir you talk about is virtually encouraged by downright awful infrastructure design.  It won’t change until the infrastructure changes.  Pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists come into conflict way too often.  NYC has a penchant for overusing traffic lights instead of dealing with intersections via roundabouts.  End result is red lights are disregarded by the majority of cyclists/pedestrians, and a significant minority of motorists.  Removing free on-street parking, no matter who would benefit, seems to be against the rules, so we have to divide scraps between pedestrians and cyclists.  We refuse to even consider forbidding some streets to motor vehicles, even though many would benefit.  Heaven forbid someone has to walk a few extra blocks after they park.  We need Albany’s permission to implement congestion pricing.  To top is all off, the streets are full of craters.  Often the reason cyclists “weave in and out” is to avoid being swallowed by the huge potholes. Oh, and motor vehicles spew noxious, cancer-causing exhaust which I personally don’t wish to breathe.  End result then is I’ll do whatever I must to be as far from motor vehicles as possible.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.

    Given all this, I’m actually surprised all three groups don’t behave WORSE.  At least we don’t have a total free for all like this:

  • pamela k

    this is a terrible tragedy. it saddens me to see people  commenting on whos to blame here chris is my cousin and my heart goes out all of the family. i am so very sorry for your loss .just know that you are all in my prayers and i love all of you

  • Atom_mota

    Ditto, being on the right side of a truck is a bad place. My question, was the rider listening TO traffic?  A truck makes distinct engine, braking, undercarriage, and box noises.  For all of us reading this, once you hear a truck behind you, it’s time to pay attention. A truck gets all the right-of-way on the road that you can spare. If I let a truck catch up to me, or if I put myself between a truck and a parked row of cars, then I am a poor rider.

    Once, I was cycling really hard, south of Yonkers on Webster Avenue. Near E. Gun Hill road, I spotted a double-parked, compact SUV. I /heard/ a truck behind me so I stopped behind the SUV and to let the truck pass. On the other hand, another cyclist *60 feet further behind me* on a MTB bike zoomed passed the SUV and ignored my behavior. To what dangers did he expose himself? How about getting doored by the SUV? Or clipped by the truck? All for what? He was going towards a red light at E. Gun Hill anyway. As the lead rider I set the tone for how to behave, but he ignored me.

    Again, please learn to forsake your forward motion and let the big boys have the road when they need it.

  • Atom_mota

    @Taco Hidde Bakker
    No conclusions can be drawn unless you’d be able to analyze the video material…
    >> But we can share experiences and knowledge based on what we have witnessed.  We are all smarter cyclists because of these comments.

    In Germany, a motorist killing a pedestrian or a cyclist is always found guilty unless there’s proof otherwise. Often drivers end up in jail and losing the license to drive.
    >> Many of our pedestrians are often stupid and distracted.  I think of myself as a thoughtful and aware pedestrian, so I can call others on their stupidity. If a driver kills a stupid pedestrian, it’s a favor to the rest of the planet. Have you seen what American prisons are like?  A driver is not deserving of that fate. Taxis and truck drivers make a living while driving they exposed to many more hazards than non-drivers, for many more hours per day.  We should understand that.  Last week, two kids in upper NYC were driving ATVs the wrong way down a street after making a right, at speed, towards me. If a car had struck them, I would have applauded.

    New York City can often be a traffic jungle, with too many dangerous intersections, bad roads, and unclear signals. The car is the king of the road in America, and until that changes, pedestrians, and above all, cyclists will have to be humble and cautious in traffic.
    >> Yes, our roads are often in disrepair.  I have heard of different roadtop materials being used in other countries. The US could benefit from improved road technology, not just the cronyism of scrapping the upper layer every ten years.

    I’ve always been baffled by the fact that people with regular driver licenses are allowed to drive pretty large trucks. That would not be possible in Europe.
    >> You cannot drive a commercial truck w.out a commercial license. (UHaul is an exception.)

    Drivers from the country and small towns should be required to do additional exams before being allowed to drive in the big city.
    >> That would require legistation and enforcement  As is, drivers get themselves into far more challenging driving environments and no-one forces them to take defensive driving courses.  We can’t afford to jumpstart training and enforcement. The most that we can hope for is integration into the driving tests and good print literature as you see being handed out at bike shops.  I think that Bloomberg/NYC has a tiny outreach & education campaign at select street corners in the city.

  • It should be highlighted the fact that a car is only equipped with one brake, located on the driveshaft. This brake is completely useless under rain conditions; in fact some drivers need over a mile to brake their cars. Motorbikes, on the other hand, count with three brakes, and can come to a total stop in only 100 feet.

  • Driver

    “>> You cannot drive a commercial truck w.out a commercial license.”

    Changes for Drivers with Current Class D Licenses.  A driver with a Class D license can now operate a passenger vehicle, a limited use automobile, or:

    A truck with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,000 lbs. or less.  (Before, a Class D driver could only operate a vehicle with a GVWR of 18,000 lbs. or less.), andA truck with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less that tows another vehicle, and the other vehicle has a GVWR of 10,000 lbs. or less, andA truck with a GVWR of 26,000 lbs. or less that tows another vehicle that has a GVWR of more than 10,000 lbs., but the gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of the two vehicles together must be 26,000 lbs. or less.

    This INCLUDES commercial vehicles.

  • Trueno Boricua

    I bike this route this area is extremely dangerous for several reasons:1) It is a key artery to get from Williamsburg/Downtown Manhattan to Bushwick/Ridgewood areas.2) When going to Ridgewood/Bushwick a bike path leads right up to the drawbridge but dead ends there and cars and trucks often move into the bike lane area right at the time it finishes causing extremely hazardous riding conditions. Note this is the opposite travel direction as this accident and is just an illustration of the route.3) Going from Ridgewood/Bushwick to Williamburg/Downtown Manhattan the bike lane starts right after the bridge and leads cyclists straight into Grand Street. Unfortunately the vast majority of the cars turn right onto Metropolitan cutting through the bike lane.4) It is an industrial warehouse area with a ton of commercial trucking.5) Its roads are industrial warehouse roads tons of bike destroying potholes, i cannot tell you how many flats i get here on my commute and i know these roads very very well.6) Motorists here generally have no regard for cyclists. The often force us to the right and dont allow us to ride in lane, however when they make left turns they dont check their right assuming since they are in the right lane they dont need to check their right mirror. I got hit along this route by a ford explorer who made a hard right turn and never saw me right next to her, luckily it was slow moving and she effectively just forced me off my bike to the right by turning into me.This is the second ghost bike in a 1.5 block radius here. Something will have to give. Some combination of the roads being repaired more often, traffic respecting a cyclists right to ride in the right lane, and/or the creation of a bike lane.Trust me this area is too dangerous even for a cyclist who follows all of the traffic laws to the t.My take on what happened, the cyclist assumed he had the right of way as he was to the right of the truck (while this may or may not have been true it is a dangerous assumption). The truck didn’t check the right rear view mirror before he turned. Tragedy ensued.I do fear for my life on this route but will continue to ride it as safely as i can.

  • Driver

    “The truck didn’t check the right rear view mirror before he turned.”

    I drive a truck, and know many others who drive trucks as well.  I don’t know any who would make a right turn without checking their mirror.  Any truck driver with any kind of experience just doesn’t do that.  If you read the article, the trucks front bumper hit the cyclist.  The bumper is in front of the mirror, and this area can be a blind spot, particularly for a cyclist or pedestrian, as they are much smaller and less visible than a car.  A truck driver could likely not notice somebody in this spot BECAUSE they are checking their mirror while they are turning. 
    From a safety standpoint, nobody should be riding in this area of a moving truck, or passing on the right, especially near an intersection (also keep in mind driveways, construction entrances, truck yards, etc.)  You are absolutely right about this location being dangerous because of so much heavy truck traffic.  Anyone riding would be prudent to always try to keep some distance between themselves and moving (or even stopped) trucks, and always pay attention to the possibilities of what the truck might do,  and expect the unexpected.  

  • Miki_and_Mike2

    Im a truck driver in the new york metro area. I would like to see the accident report. I can tell you that I have seen so many bicycle riders weave in and out of traffic.
    some crazzier than others. I feel that nypd needs to enforce bicycle laws. As for example today. Im getting ready for a right turn I check my mirrors I start the right. A bike cuts up my right side between me and the car next to me. 5 seconds later that would have been it.

  • Janetlee Kveum

    It was my son, Christopher Lee Doyle, who was struck and killed by the delivery truck driver on August 2, 2011. Christopher was a website developer for The New School. Christopher chose to ride a bicycle as a mode of transportation in NYC because he did not believe in wasting money on high gas prices, car payments, insurance payments, etc, etc,  and he truly loved riding his bike to work. Everyone who knew him, respected and loved him, especially me, his mother. I love you Christopher Lee, my pride and joy! Love, Ma!


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