Driver Kills Cyclist in Ditmas Park, NYPD and Media Blame Deceased Victim

A driver killed a cyclist in Ditmas Park this morning.

The cyclist, a 57-year-old man, was riding eastbound on Church Avenue near Ocean Avenue when he was run over by the driver of a commercial box truck, who was also eastbound on Church, according to NYPD. The crash happened at around 10:25 a.m.

Per usual, initial NYPD accounts focused on what the victim — who can’t speak for himself — purportedly did to get himself killed, with no word on the driver’s actions before the crash. Sergeant Lee Jones told Gothamist the victim “lost control and struck the side of the box truck and fell under the wheels.”

DNAinfo cited unnamed NYPD sources who said the victim “swerved” and “turned into” the truck. “Witnesses said they didn’t see any helmet with the cyclist, just a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap,” DNA reported.

The cyclist was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital, NYPD said.

The NYPD public information office had no additional details when we called, but said the crash was still under investigation. Police had not released the victim’s identity as of earlier this afternoon. NYPD does not usually divulge the names of drivers who kill people unless charges are filed.

While it’s not clear what happened this morning, Church Avenue has no dedicated space for biking, with little room between the parking lane and moving traffic.

Injury crashes in the vicinity of Church Avenue and Ocean Avenue, indicated by the blue dot, in 2015. Image: Vision Zero View
Injury crashes this year in the vicinity of Church Avenue and Ocean Avenue, indicated by the blue dot, as of May. Image: Vision Zero View

New York City motorists have killed at least five cyclists in 2015, according to crash data compiled by Streetsblog.

This fatal crash occurred in the 70th Precinct, in Brooklyn Community Board District 14, and in the City Council district represented by Mathieu Eugene.

  • Alexander Vucelic

    “rider was sideswiped by 20 Ton box truck and then pulled under truck “

  • Simon Phearson

    Looks like this street has one of those wide parking lanes the DOT is trying to sell as a “bike amenity.” Word of advice for those still living: take the lane until we get adequate infrastructure.

    DNAinfo is almost as bad as the tabs when it comes to reporting on traffic violence.

  • Joe R.

    From DNAInfo:

    “Witnesses said they didn’t see any helmet with the cyclist, just a Dallas Cowboys baseball cap.

    Like that would have made a difference in the outcome. Why the f does it have to be mentioned every time a cyclist is killed whether or not they were wearing a helmet?

    Lost control???? Most likely the truck passed so close the cyclist had nowhere to go but under the wheels.

  • Mark Henselt

    Maybe best to avoid crowded streets. There ARE side streets, you know.

  • There’s actually no eastbound through-street with a substantially different design than Church for more than a mile in either direction. But thanks for blaming this person’s death on his route choice.

  • This is the main reason I wear a helmet.

  • When a driver is killed by another driver, does anyone suggest that the victim should have taken a different route?

  • roguebagel

    It is really hard to lose control of a bike on one’s own. More likely he was hit, right geniuses?

  • Simon Phearson

    With the NYPD on the case, and a vigilant media behind them… I guess we’ll never know.

    This aftermath is kind of what flashes before my eyes whenever these trucks come up on me from behind. I can hear them roaring. I know what they want to do. I just pound, stick to the center of the lane, and hope that fear of hitting other cars will keep the truck driver from doing something stupid.

  • tbatts666

    I am just always losing control of my bike you know. It just has a mind of it’s own.

  • Moneychest Fox

    Every person who drives a bike in a place with no bike lanes is wrong and is risking his life. I do not drive my care in the airport which planes a bike should be driving without bike lanes. I think they should all be ticketed and if you dive in a place without bike lane the bike should be confiscated.

  • Simon Phearson

    I appreciate the effort, but this troll is too over the top to reel anyone in. You should try to tone it down a bit.

  • Andres Dee

    Good news. Most streets have bike lanes. You just don’t realize that they’re there. Huh, you ask? Here:

    “Article 34 – NY Vehicle and Traffic Law S 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skate lanes and bicycle or in-line skate paths. (a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skate shall be driven EITHER on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a USABLE right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic EXCEPT when preparing for a left turn OR when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.”

  • Andres Dee

    The bike itself does not appear to have damage consistent with being run over. And if the cyclist was run over, then a helmet would probably not have mattered.

  • Andres Dee

    I’ve been on this street and “took the lane” and signaled a left, only to find a motorist bearing down on me at sustained speed with horn blaring. I was wearing my helment, though and had all required safely equipment.

  • M to the I

    If this cyclist did get scared and lose control, maybe it was because the driver of the truck failed to pass him in a safe manner. In many states, the driver is supposed to provide a minimum of 3 feet distance when passing a cyclist. Technically passing is not legal on this street since there is only 1 lane of traffic in each direction and solid double yellow lines. However, even cyclists feel pressure when cars are stuck behind them and would prefer a driver to pass safely by slowing down, waiting until there is a gap in oncoming traffic and maneuvering around them at a safe distance.

  • Pat

    “The biker hit his gas pedal on the bike instead of the brake.”

  • Joe R.

    The bike actually looks undamaged, as best I can tell from the photo. I suspect the truck may have hit the cyclist enough to cause him to lose balance. Given the way the bike fell, the cyclist would have fallen further out in the street, possibly under the trunk’s wheels. Other things possibly causing the cyclist to fall could have been poor pavement conditions or the pressure wave from the truck if it was traveling very fast.

    You really need eyes in the back of your head riding in this city. I always dread the loud roar of a truck or bus overtaking me. I typically try to find room to veer over into the parking lane before it passes just to avoid situations like this.

  • Trolling please? Begging you, be trolling.

  • Charles_Siegel

    The street does not have a wide parking lane. As the article says, “Church Avenue has no dedicated space for biking, with little room between the parking lane and moving traffic.”

    This street is older than the street grid – which is why it is not parallel to the other streets in the grid – and so it is narrow. It is named for the Dutch Reformed Church, which has been at its current location (Church Ave. and Flatbush Ave.) since the seventeenth century.

  • Mathew Smithburger

    Why don’t we just throw in the towel on pretending that this Vision Zero initiative is nothing more than a way to spend money on advertising and nothing more. This way we can get on with the business of starting to remove our mayor now and finding his replacement, someone who will take things like Vision Zero seriously.

  • dporpentine

    And with one comment Mr. Mark Henselt disproves the entire field of evo-devo. There can simply be no evolutionary explanation for why the lizard brains of so many Americans are devoted to rationalizing the killing of people on bikes.

  • dporpentine

    Church Avenue is an incredibly dangerous road–with incredibly aggressive bus drivers (i.e., History’s Greatest Heroes), rampant double parking, people pushing shopping carts in the road, a ton of commercial traffic, and the usual assortment of terrible livery car drivers and private motor vehicle operators who hate the rest of humanity for existing. I haven’t been on it in the last year or so but I used to ride on it a lot and at least back then it also had a ton of potholes and lots of ongoing work.

    To blame this on the cyclist requires a terrifying level of denial.

  • Simon Phearson

    I can just imagine the tab report: “According to police sources, the car couldn’t see the cyclist, who appears to have been riding down the middle of the street…”

  • Simon Phearson

    I’ll admit to being somewhat facetious. I realize that the “wide parking lanes” that the DOT is painting for us may be typically wider than what you see on Church. But from the looks of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if many cyclists on Church use the extra space between parked cars and the painted line on the street in order to filter through traffic, exactly as the DOT envisions us doing.

    That’s not to say, though, that what the DOT is painting for us in various redesigns is going to prove any safer than the situation on Church.

  • stairbob

    Chalk another death up to religion.

  • Mathew Smithburger

    Thank you Commissioner Bratton, now I hear London calling for you.


    Ive rode down Church Ave numerous times. its ridden with potholes and uneven sections. Drivers usually come dangerously close and there is little space for cyclists to ride between the curb and the cars. speeding is also an issue.I think that Church Ave needs to be redesigned and repaved to make it safer. I wouldnt be surprised if this poor cyclist was hit by the truck driver before falling under the rear wheels.