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Cyclist Deaths Up 44 Percent as Mayor de Blasio Targets E-Bikes

2:41 PM EST on December 19, 2017

Hugo Ramirez was hit by a truck driver making a right turn from 48th Street toward the Long Island Expressway. Image: Google Maps

A semi truck driver ran over and killed cyclist Hugo Ramirez in Maspeth yesterday, then left the scene.

Motorists have killed at least 26 people riding bikes in New York City this year, including three victims of the October West Side Greenway attack, according to crash data tracked by City Hall and Streetsblog. That's a 44 percent increase from 2016, when City Hall reported 18 cyclist fatalities for the year. Even if you don't count the victims of the greenway rampage, 23 cyclist deaths is more than any year since 2007.

The crash happened just before 8 a.m. Monday. NYPD told Streetsblog that Ramirez, 23, and the truck driver were both northbound on 48th Street near 54th Avenue when the trucker hit Ramirez while turning right onto a Long Island Expressway ramp. The description indicates that Ramirez had the right of way.

Ramirez, a delivery worker who lived in Corona, was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital.

Police sources told the Daily News “it’s possible the truck driver didn't notice hitting anyone,” which could hamper efforts to see justice done for the victim.

In New York, hit-and-run convictions depend on the prosecution's ability to prove that a driver knew or had reason to know a collision occurred. When a motorist strikes someone and leaves the scene, “I didn’t see him” is not an admission of guilt, but a defense strategy.

Yet NYPD often offers a preemptive defense after a hit-and-run driver kills someone, even if investigators have yet to identify or interview a suspect. The department also has a history of clearing hit-and-run drivers on its own, rather than filing charges and letting the justice system decide innocence or guilt.

Most drivers who strike people and flee the scene in NYC are never charged with a crime.

With cyclist deaths trending upward two years in a row, Mayor de Blasio has to do more to focus DOT and NYPD resources on safer street designs and enforcement of the most dangerous driving violations, like failure to yield. De Blasio could also stop allowing bike-hating community board members to obstruct street safety projects.

Instead, the mayor's major bike-related initiative heading into 2018 is a crackdown on electric bikes that will target working cyclists like Ramirez.

Hugo Ramirez was killed in the 108th Precinct, and in the City Council district that will soon be represented by Republican Robert Holden, who ousted incumbent Elizabeth Crowley in November.

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