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.

Ignoring how he was killed, 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, drecchia@council.nyc.gov or @DomenicRecchia.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone might have thought he was riding a Citi Bike. He was only six miles from the nearest station, after all!

  • Joe R.

    Even if he was, there’s no way he could have ridden those six miles and back within the 45 minute time limit on those heavy bikes. And of course, they had to get in the usual line about helmets even though wearing one in this case wouldn’t have made a bit of difference. Try again, Daily News.

  • Definitely a new low for Daily News. As I said Sunday night, the tabloid media are licking their chops at the prospect of the first traffic death of a bike share user. It’s inevitable that a driver will at some point kill a bike share users, just as New York city drivers have been killing New York city cyclists for 100 years. That’s a reason to abandon all pretenses at journalistic integrity and publish this drivel attempting to torpedo bike share?

    The Post and the DN better publish as much as of this crap as they can, as fast as they can. Because in about a year’s time their readership will include enough people who have used bike share that they will stop buying the paper if this nonsense continues.

  • Anonymous

    The real shamelessness in the DN story is its ignoring of the ostensible moving violation on the part of the driver, whose vehicle came to rest diagonally astride a double-yellow line (especially striking in the other photo in the DN article, shot from above).

  • Mike

    Not to defend a driver who kills a cyclist, but it’s entirely possible that the car came to rest there after the driver veered left having noticed (too late) that she was about to hit the cyclist.

  • Reader

    Citi Bike membership is growing at exactly the same rate Daily News and Post readership is falling.

  • Anonymous

    This is getting off-topic, but if one occasionally really needs more than 45 min, having to pay $2.50 to use the bike for 75 min is not the end of the world (after that, it does get expensive). Given the current size of the coverage area, I think most people should be able to go between the two stations that are furthest apart in less than 75 min. (I might try it one day for fun.)

  • Anonymous

    The thing is though, shitty journalism is profitable. Just look at Fox News. They tell their viewers what they want to hear. Same with the Post. They probably hold on to their readers better than most newspapers now a days.

  • Joe R.

    It looks like ~8 miles between the most remote stations. You only need to average ~6.5 mph to cover that in 75 minutes (or a tick under 11 mph to do it in 45 minutes). Neither sounds overly difficult, even for a fairly new rider. Certainly just about anyone in any shape should be able to average 6-7 mph on these bikes.

  • Eric McClure

    Not really. The Post is hemorrhaging money. About $100 million per year according to some estimates.

  • Spikey

    Streetsblog calling NYDN shoddy journalism is clearly a case of the pot calling the kettle black, yo!

  • Eric McClure

    We don’t know how this crash happened, and probably never will thanks to the NYPD’s shoddy investigations, but the Post forgot to include this info:

    A Nissan Murano packs 260 HP under the hood in it’s 3.5-liter, dual-overhead-cam, 24-valve, V6 engine, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 7.1 seconds. Probably more relevant than the type of bicycle the victim was riding, no?

  • Joe R.

    I have no stats to really back me up on this, but I’m getting the feeling the general public is fast becoming fed up with “if it bleeds, it leads” journalism. The fact that we’re still getting a lot of it may have more to do with journalists being slow to catch on.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not clear on whether the driver of the vehicle that hit the victim and the driver of the vehicle you’re mentioning (the white one mentioned in the Post story as having been driven by a doctor who tried to help the victim, shown in the News article as having MD plates) are the same person, or whether the victim was struck by one driver and then another stopped and tried to help (and if that’s the case then I think I’m OK with a doctor stopping wherever possible to try to help out in an emergency situation).

  • Anonymous

    I’m not clear on whether the driver of the vehicle that hit the victim and the driver of the vehicle you’re mentioning (the white one mentioned in the Post story as having been driven by a doctor who tried to help the victim, shown in the News article as having MD plates) are the same person, or whether the victim was struck by one driver and then another stopped and tried to help (and if that’s the case then I think I’m OK with a doctor stopping wherever possible to try to help out in an emergency situation).

  • fafacious

    This Daily News excerpt proves that what they do is the exact opposite of reporting.

  • SteveF

    or the color of the helmet that wasn’t going to protect the rest of his body from severe trauma.

    Dog bites man. Nothing new here.
    Move along.

  • SteveF

    Joe, I think qrt45 was joking… These same reporters have been assuming such short useful trips that to imply – or state – CitiBike use for a 12 to 16 mile round trip boggles the mind.
    As to how to use CitiBikes longer than 30 or 45 minutes, as long as you are within the Bike Station zone, drop off the first bike, and pull it or another bike right back out again. There is supposed to be at most a 2 minute delay in releasing the 2nd bike to you. Continue riding.
    Going outside the zone for a quick pickup or dropoff, then you may incur overtime fees. We need a bigger zone!

  • Joe R.

    I know he was joking. I was just playing a hypothetical what-if scenario to show how ridiculous the notion of riding a Citibike 6 miles from the nearest station would be. Heck, it’s not exactly easy to cover 12 miles in 45 minutes on my titanium Airborne, never mind a 45-pound clunker with only 3 speeds. And yes, we need a bigger zone-ideally close to the entirety of NYC. For that matter, bike share might even work to some extent between the denser parts of Long Island or NJ (i.e. perhaps between commuter rail stations and local points of interest).

  • Andrew

    Clearly, the victim aged significantly between the second and tenth paragraphs of the article.

  • Anonymous

    Will you please stop giving any attention to the Daily News? We know they’re terrible. It’s petty and the constant reminders is becoming tiresome.

  • Good one, Eric!

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