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Shameless: Daily News Tries Linking Death of Senior Cyclist to Bike-Share

A senior riding a bike in Bath Beach was killed by a motorist Monday, and the Daily News used the crash to criticize the city's new bike-share system.

The Daily News exploited Mai Zhang's death to take a swipe at bike-share.

Mai Zhang, 74, was struck by the driver of an SUV at Benson Avenue and Bay 26th Street at around noon, according to NYPD and published accounts. The Post reported that NYPD said there was "no criminality," and the police spokesperson we talked with said there was no indication that summonses were issued.

NYPD had no information on how the crash occurred.

Though Bath Beach is far outside the initial bike-share service area, and the paper's own story included photos of the victim's personal bike, the Daily News tried to link Zhang's death to the launch of Citi Bike.

The victim was not believed to be riding a bike from the city’s long-awaited Citi Bike program, unveiled Monday.

More than 14,000 residents have signed up for annual $95 memberships to ride the bikes. Service is limited to Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn.

Critics have warned that cyclists will be injured because helmets are not required in the program. It is unclear if the senior killed Monday was wearing protective gear.

So: A man killed by a motorist was not riding a Citi Bike, whose users are in danger because they aren't required to wear helmets, and the Daily News doesn't know if the victim of this crash was wearing a helmet, or if the presence or absence of a bike helmet had anything whatsoever to do with his death. Follow?

These five sentences -- which comprise at least half the Daily News story -- were either an ill-conceived effort to make an unrelated traffic death "topical," or a base attempt at preemptive victim-blaming. Of all the elements the News could have teased out -- driver behavior, street conditions, the disproportionate number of seniors killed in traffic -- reporter Barry Paddock or his editors tacked on a totally irrelevant reference to bike-share. Though bike-share systems historically have exemplary safety records, it's as if the tabloids can't wait for someone to die on a Citi Bike.

The Post, too, shoehorned a Citi Bike mention into its coverage, and reported that the driver was both female and male, and that the victim was 74 and 88. But the Post also did a little actual reporting.

The man’s daughter rushed to the scene and became hysterical when she saw her father’s body.

“No, no, it can’t be him! No!,” she screamed in Chinese, according to another family member who translated her words.

“He was in bad shape. He took some hit. He was bleeding profusely,” said David Feldman, 56, who lives nearby.

The woman driving the white SUV is a doctor and rushed to try to help the dying man.

“I can’t believe this happened,” she said, according to an EMT who responded to the fatal crash.

This fatal crash occurred in the 62nd Precinct. To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector James Rooney, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 62nd Precinct council meetings happen at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month at the precinct, 1925 Bath Avenue. Call 718-236-2501 for information.

The City Council district where Mai Zhang was killed is represented by Domenic Recchia, who in 2011 pushed the city to abandon a plan for bike infrastructure there, and who remains indifferent to the benefits of cycling in New York City. To encourage Recchia to take action to improve street safety in his district and citywide, contact him at 212-788-7045, or @DomenicRecchia.

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