Driver Backing Up to Park Severely Injures Cyclist in Middle Village [Updated]

Lutheran Avenue, where a driver backing up to park injured a cyclist today. Image: Google Maps
Lutheran Avenue, where a driver backing up to park injured a cyclist today. Image: Google Maps

A driver in pursuit of a parking spot severely injured a cyclist in Queens this morning.

The victim, a 64-year-old man, was traveling northbound on Lutheran Avenue, near Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, at about 8:35 a.m., NYPD told Streetsblog. Near the intersection of Juniper Boulevard North, a 71-year-old backing up to park hit him with a Honda sedan.

The victim was pinned under the car and sustained lower body trauma and injuries to his right leg, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition.

The Daily News spoke with teachers at nearby Learning Tree Nursery School, who were on the scene. Teresa Kava said the victim’s feet were “‘mangled’ by the car tires.” Said Tracy Neuweiler, a second witness: “He was conscious. He thought he was going to die.”

NYPD had not released the identities of the victim or the driver as of this afternoon. No charges were filed, police said, and the investigation is ongoing.

DOT is planning bike lanes in western Queens neighborhoods, with bike lanes or sharrows proposed for the street where today's crash occurred, circled in pink. Image: DOT
DOT is planning bike lanes in western Queens neighborhoods, with bike lanes or sharrows proposed for part of the street where today’s crash occurred, circled in pink. Image: DOT

Lutheran Avenue is a relatively narrow street where the crash occurred, with parking on both sides and no bike lanes. Juniper Boulevard North has two lanes of parking and a painted center median. It’s too wide and dangerous, and it would be a relatively simple matter to calm traffic and narrow crossing distances along the park by adding a protected bike lane, like DOT has done next to other city parks.

Update: In September 2015 DOT presented a plan for a bikeway on Juniper Boulevard North, and painted bike lanes or sharrows on two blocks of northern Lutheran Avenue, to Queens Community Board 5 [PDF]. Streetsblog is checking with DOT for the status of that proposal.

DOT has been working to add bike lanes in Middle Village and Ridgewood, as shown in the map above [PDF]. It’s clear bike infrastructure is urgently needed in this part of Queens.

Teachers at Learning Tree told the Daily News there have been several crashes near the school, located at Juniper Boulevard North and Lutheran Avenue, in recent months.

“We’re in jeopardy because [drivers] don’t want to stop at the stop sign,” said Kava. “When we cross [with] the kids, one of us has to stand in the middle of the street and direct traffic. It shouldn’t be like that.”

There’s plenty of room for bike lanes on Juniper Boulevard North. Image: Google Maps
There’s plenty of room for bike lanes on Juniper Boulevard North. Image: Google Maps

Correction: The location of the crash was misidentified in the original version of this post. It happened on Lutheran Avenue, not Juniper Boulevard North, according to NYPD. The post has been updated to reflect the correct location.

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