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Van Bramer Calls for Protected Bike Lanes on 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, podium, speaking this morning alongside Flor Jimenez, left, whose husband Gelacio Reyes was killed biking on 43rd Avenue on April 1. Photo: David Meyer

After two crashes in ten days at the same Sunnyside intersection left one cyclist dead and another in critical condition, Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer is calling on DOT to take immediate action and install a protected bike lane on 43rd Avenue between Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue.

Van Bramer spoke this morning at the corner of 43rd Avenue and 39th Street alongside Flor Jimenez, whose husband Gelacio Reyes was killed by a drunk, unlicensed hit-and-run driver while biking home from Manhattan on April 1. Ten days later, a turning box truck driver critically injured cyclist David Nunez, 27, at the same location.

"This intersection, this street -- needs to be safe for every single New Yorker at every single moment of every single day," Van Bramer said. "Vision Zero is not working at this location."

The painted bike lane on 43rd Avenue is the primary eastbound connection for cyclists headed from the Queensboro Bridge and Long Island City to the protected bike lanes on Queens Boulevard. There's no official count, but it's likely that hundreds of people use the street during the p.m. rush.

Intersection of 43rd Avenue and 39th Street in Sunnyside, where Gelacio Reyes was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike home from work. Image: Google Maps
Intersection of 43rd Avenue and 39th Street in Sunnyside, where Gelacio Reyes was killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bike home from work. Image: Google Maps
The intersection of 43rd Avenue and 39th Street in Sunnyside, where a drunk driver struck and killed Gelacio Reyes as he biked home from work in April. Image: Google Maps

Van Bramer said DOT should take "immediate" action to study "not if, but how" a protected bike lane can be installed on the corridor. He also called for leading pedestrian intervals at the intersection where Reyes and Nunez were struck, which is just feet away from the district's largest senior center.

"We live in a culture where cyclists like Gelacio, and like David, and pedestrians, are invisible to motorists," said Peter Beadle, Jimenez's lawyer. "People cannot be invisible. These are lives."

Van Bramer wants safety fixes as soon as possible. DOT sometimes spends years to get community board votes in favor of its safety projects, but Queens Community Board 2 chair Denise Keehan-Smith endorsed Van Bramer's proposal today, saying protected bike lanes on 43rd Avenue are "necessary."

"[This intersection] has to be made safer right away," Van Bramer said. "We can't wait months [or] years for this to change."

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