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

Hugo Ramirez, struck by a hit-and-run truck driver yesterday, was the 26th cyclist killed by a motorist on NYC streets in 2017. City Hall reported 18 cyclist fatalities last year.

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

  • Vooch

    most semi trucks are illegal in NYC

    except when Marty Golden drives

  • Zero Vision

    The mayor, reached for comment, was quoted as saying, “What? I’m in Iowa. Shhhhhh. Krrrrrr. Must be a bad connection. I’ll have to call you back. Okay. Okay. Bye. Zzzzz.”

  • HamTech87

    Is there an Amber Alert out for the killer of Ramirez?

  • Larry Littlefield

    The worst nightmare is Cuomo and DeBlasio running for President, and competing go see who can sell out more to special interests. Especially those with lots of people on the payroll in Florida.

    Most of the huge retroactive pension increases, special tax deals, and debt bombs have been associated with Presidential runs. By NY pols who had no business running for President.

    It goes back to Lindsay and Rockefeller in the late 1960s/early 1970s. Look at the shape they left NYC in general, and the transit system in particular, in.

  • johnmassengale

    It would be good to know WHERE the cyclists were killed. How many had the right of way? How many in the mixing zone where turn lanes cross over protected bike lanes?

  • qrt145

    Indeed it would. I don’t have a table to give you, but from my recollections based on reading this blog daily for several years, I get the sense that the vast majority of cyclists who were killed were not in bike lanes of any kind. I can only remember one case involving a mixing zone.

    As for the right of way, that tends to be disputed.

  • Parque_Hundido

    Amber Alerts are for child abductions, not general police investigations.

  • qrt145

    New York is now going to use “Amber-like” alerts for hit-and-runs too, but apparently not until March:

  • Parque_Hundido

    Hmm, I’m not really sure how this is going to help, except perhaps in cases where it alerts a driver to the fact that he may have been involved in an accident that he was not aware of.

    Otherwise, without a license plate or accurate description of the vehicle, I don’t see it helping much. CCTV cameras are more helpful.

  • qrt145

    It could help prosecute drunken hit-and-run cases if the alert leads to finding the perpetrator quickly. A problem with current law is that the penalties for drunken driving are stronger than those for hit-and-run; therefore a rational and informed drunk driver (not sure if they exist…) has an incentive to run away if they hit someone. If they get caught the next day, at least they’ll be sober and can only be prosecuted for the hit-and-run.

  • wklis

    Will cyclists have to wear helmet cameras to record their entire ride?

  • JarekFA

    I already do!

  • Ron Bjork

    June 30, 2017 My son was killed in a hit and run in Brooklyn Central Ave and Linden St. The district attorney refuses to bring charges against the driver even though there is ample evidence including 1.) impound of the car 2.) Video evidence 3.) Witnesses. Who can help me? I can not rest until the person who left my son on the side of the road like a pile of garbage is brought to justice.

  • veffari

    I have a camera and turn it on at certain times of the day. Brooklyn and Queens drivers can be incredibly irresponsible and dangerous. This week alone I had 5-10 close incidents (I follow the street rules) even though most of my riding is on bicycle paths. The New York POST doesn’t help matters with its anti-cycling articles.

  • veffari

    I would like to see the empirical data for that statement.