Off-Route Semi Truck Driver Kills Cyclist in Park Slope [Updated]

Update: Times reporter Andy Newman tweeted a DCPI notice concerning this crash. NYPD identified the victim as 33-year-old James Gregg. Police say the truck driver and Gregg were traveling the same direction on Sixth Avenue when Gregg “collided into the rear tire of the tractor trailer.”

Update: Andy Newman tweeted a quote from police indicating the truck driver passed the cyclist, causing the collision. Also, I contacted National Retail Transportation, which operates the truck. When I explained why I was calling, the person who answered the phone said “I don’t know anything about that,” and transferred me to a customer service employee’s voicemail.

A truck driver killed a cyclist in Park Slope this morning.

The victim, a 33-year-old man, was riding on Sixth Avenue at Sterling Place when he was hit at around 8 a.m., according to the Daily News. Police had not released the victim’s name as of early this afternoon.

The truck was an 18-wheeler. Sixth Avenue at Sterling Place is a narrow neighborhood street. It’s not a truck route, but big rig drivers are a problem there.

Trucks longer than 55 feet are allowed on New York City streets with a permit, but only if the load is “non-divisible,” such as construction beams. A trailer carrying boxed or other loose cargo, like the one involved in this crash, would not be permitted on surface streets if the total truck length exceeds 55 feet.

Park Slope resident Rob Underwood says locals have tried for years to get the 78th Precinct to enforce truck route violations. As of March, the precinct had issued no truck route tickets in 2016, according to NYPD data. Precinct officers issued just five truck route citations last year.

Photo: Eric McClure
Photo: Eric McClure

Streetsblog founding editor Aaron Naparstek and reader Eric McClure were at the scene and spoke with police and witnesses. Naparstek said precinct cops were telling passersby that the victim was purposefully holding the side of the truck, as if to hitch a ride. But that also describes what a cyclist might do when passed by a large truck on a narrow street and is desperately trying to avoid being run over.

Cop chatter usually shapes the media narrative after a serious crash, and is often proven to be inaccurate.

Multiple sources have said the truck driver was wearing earbuds or a Bluetooth earpiece.

The NYPD spokesperson we talked with had little information on the crash. Police are still investigating, he said, and “no criminality” is suspected “at this time.” NYPD’s public information office did not have further details on the collision.

The victim of this crash was at least the fourth cyclist killed by a New York City driver in 2016, and the second killed in the last week. Three of the four deaths were in Brooklyn.

This morning’s crash occurred in the City Council district represented by Brad Lander.

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