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.

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