Rodriguez Revives Push for Truck Guards After First Cyclist Death of 2015

Hoyt Jacobs was killed by a truck driver making a right turn from Vernon Boulevard onto 41st Avenue. Image: Google Maps
Hoyt Jacobs was killed by a truck driver making a right turn from Vernon Boulevard onto 41st Ave. Image: Google Maps

A private garbage truck operator killed a cyclist, and a driver killed a pedestrian in separate incidents in Queens over the holiday weekend. NYPD and District Attorney Richard Brown filed no charges in either case.

On Saturday evening the driver of a private trash hauler struck cyclist Hoyt Jacobs at Vernon Boulevard and 41st Avenue in Long Island City, according to reports. It’s difficult to parse how the crash occurred, but the Daily News reported that Jacobs was riding on 41st Avenue, and AMNY said the driver was turning right onto 41st Avenue from Vernon Boulevard. From AMNY:

Jacobs was struck by the truck’s driver-side rear wheels, an NYPD spokesman said. The driver stayed on scene and was not arrested or issued a summons, according to the NYPD.

Witnesses told the Daily News the “light from the man’s bicycle helmet could be seen shining from beneath the sheet that covered him,” which seems to indicate that Jacobs should have been visible to the driver. Photos from the scene show Jacobs’ body in the eastbound lane of 41st Avenue, with the truck sitting in the same lane several yards away, facing east. But again, the lack of basic information, especially regarding Jacobs’ direction of travel, makes it impossible to know what happened at this time.

The two-way bike lane on the west side of Vernon Boulevard is interrupted alongside Queensbridge Park, a stretch that includes the intersection where Jacobs was killed. That segment has sharrows and parking lanes on each side of the street. It’s not clear if the lack of a continuous bike lane on Vernon contributed to the crash, but if NYPD determines what happened to Jacobs, the city could gain a better understanding of how to make the intersection safer.

In 2008, DOT chose to maintain parking, rather than install bike lanes, on the segment of Vernon Boulevard where Jacobs was killed. Image: DOT
In 2008, DOT chose to maintain parking, rather than install bike lanes, on the segment of Vernon Boulevard where Jacobs was killed, a decision that was reinforced when the bike lane was upgraded in 2013. Image: DOT

Jacobs was the first known cyclist fatality of 2015. On Sunday, City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez announced a renewed effort to require side guards on large trucks, including garbage trucks operated by DSNY and private companies. In a press release, Rodriguez said that in London side guards have reduced cyclist deaths and serious injuries by 61 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Legislation was put on hold last year after NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg raised concerns about whether the city could accomplish much in the absence of strong state and federal rules.

“Hoyt Jacobs’ death was preventable,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, in the press release. “In a disproportionately large number of of these tragic cases, heavy commercial vehicles are involved. In the coming days and weeks T.A. will work with local legislators and authorities to ensure that there is a full investigation, fair action and appropriate countermeasures.”

At approximately 5:34 p.m. Monday, the driver of a 2011 Subaru hit a 69-year-old woman as the victim crossed Bell Boulevard at Estates Lane in Bayside, according to NYPD. A police spokesperson said the woman was crossing the street south to north, but had no information on who had the right of way. NYPD had not released the victim’s name as of this morning, pending family notification.

The segment of Bell Boulevard where Monday’s crash occurred acts as a service road for the Cross Island Parkway. The investigation into the crash remains open, according to the NYPD spokesperson, but the Daily News reported that unnamed police sources said “there did not immediately appear to be any criminality.”

Hoyt Jacobs was killed in the 114th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Jimmy Van Bramer. Monday’s crash occurred in the 109th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Paul Vallone.

  • BBnet3000

    Sharrows are for wayfinding and are not actual cycling infrastructure. They’re even worse when placed on the side of the lane as they are in New York rather than in the center.

    The implication in that presentation that cyclists should just detour through the park is pretty much worse practice in bike planning.

  • Reader

    Thank god the community didn’t lose parking! The system killed Hoyt Jacobs.

  • Alex

    Those private garbage trucks are among the most dangerous vehicles in the city. They’re huge and the drivers are super aggressive and have little regard for the law. That includes the one I saw wantonly blowing a red light on my block recently. The light was fully red and he just approached it and rolled right through turning left as if he had no signal at all. Luckily I was still about 30 feet from crossing there but this seems like standard procedure for them. They drive those trucks as if they’re sports cars on closed tracks rather than city streets with lots of people.

  • ahwr

    Does the London quote mean that 61% of cycling deaths involved collisions with large trucks before the sideguards were installed?

  • D’BlahZero

    This is absolutely in keeping with my experience of the drivers of private garbage trucks in this city. Does DSNY, or another city agency, regulate these drivers/vehicles?

  • Bertilak

    Not surprised. Cycle regularly on Vernon. It’s a mess. Regular speeding and aggressive overtaking of cyclists on the northbound lane. Trucks pulling in and out. Even the cycle lane on the southbound side is constantly obstructed by vehicles.

    A northbound bike lane would be great, but barring that, even a lower speed limit and some enforcement could do a lot of good.

    Hope DOT actually pays attention to these stories.

  • Max Power

    Will anyone introduce a bill to move those sharrows to the center of the lane, rather than directing cyclists into the door zone and encouraging motorists to pass unsafely in the same lane?

  • BBnet3000

    They aren’t even following the NACTO recommendation, I think they’re following the NACTO minimum which in practice is at the edge of the door zone. Its quite embarrassing.

  • Reader


  • ddartley

    I have written at least once to DOT about this same issue as it occurs elsewhere (various places in Manhattan). I encourage you to write to DOT, and in addition to making your point, express your support for the suggestion made in case DOT-216537-P7V3.

  • ddartley

    Please see my comment above in response to Max Power. I’d encourage you too to write to DOT (and also mention case DOT-216537-P7V3). Glad that some people actually understand this!

  • Tonyguy
  • Tonyguy
  • qrt145

    Those are great defensive riding tips and I’m all for them. But they don’t negate the fact that right hooks like the one depicted in the video would be much less likely if motorists (including truckers) used their turn signals properly.

  • chekpeds

    Another example where split phase signals would have allowed the cyclist to proceed while the truck stops at the red turning arrow. Truck guards are nice but letting cyclist/pedestrians share a green phase with trucks and cars is nothing short of criminal: essentially DOT is saying, “sort it out amongst yourselves” . REALLY? 5000 pounds of metal against a human being…. We know the result.

  • AnnieNYC

    I concur with the comments above. In 1995 I was hit a glancing blow (while crossing in cross walk with the right of way) by a private haul garbage truck making an illegal left turn on a red light in Manhattan. I was knocked into another car and gave chase trying to get the truck’s license plate (bruised, but obviously otherwise uninjured) and had my way blocked by a nearby construction worker until the truck turned the corner one block down.


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