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Crosstown Bikeways Can’t Come Soon Enough — Cyclist Doored and Struck on 29th Street

A truck driver hit a cyclist after the driver of a Mercedes SUV, pictured at left, doored him on 29th Street near Eighth Avenue. Photo: Lisa Sladkus

On 29th Street last night, the occupant of a Mercedes SUV doored a 67-year-old man on a bike, who was then hit by a truck driver and had to be hospitalized. DOT plans to install a protected bike lane on this part of 29th Street, which would prevent collisions where cyclists get doored into the path of passing motorists.

The victim was westbound approaching Eighth Avenue, riding with the flow of traffic, when a 34-year-old man opened the SUV's door, according to NYPD. As he maneuvered to avoid the car door, the victim was struck by the driver of a Baldor Specialty Foods truck, who was passing on the left.

Streetsblog reader Lisa Sladkus witnessed the aftermath of the collision.

“I didn't see it happen but heard people screaming,” Sladkus said via email. “I stayed with the man, holding his head and talking to him until the EMT and police came... He didn't hit his head but thought he broke his leg and his arm. He was sad and very scared.”

The victim was transported to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition.

Sladkus said the driver of the truck blamed the injured cyclist. "[He] came out and said, 'What were you doing?,'" said Sladkus. "I screamed, 'He was biking!'"

NYPD told Streetsblog the truck driver, identified only as a 54-year-old man, "felt a bump" under his right rear wheels as he approached Eighth Avenue. The department's public information office did not know if either driver was ticketed but felt free to share details that imply the victim was to blame, saying he wasn't in the bike lane and "was not wearing a helmet."

The lack of separation between bike traffic and moving motor vehicles on Midtown streets has fatal consequences. Last June a charter bus driver killed 80-year-old Michael Mamoukakis on 29th Street at Seventh Avenue, a block east of last night’s collision. Five days before Mamoukakis was struck, a charter bus driver sideswiped and killed Dan Hanegby, 36, on 26th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

Those crashes prompted DOT to develop plans for multiple sets of crosstown parking-protected bike routes -- including a pair of lanes on 26th and 29th streets.

A parking-protected bike lane on 29th Street would almost certainly have prevented last night's collision, since anyone using it would not be riding between parked cars and moving traffic. The safety upgrades can't come quickly enough.

Public support for the DOT project appears to be substantial, but a few opponents, including Eric Duke, the owner of Chelsea Television Studios on 26th Street, got some airtime on NY1 at a Community Board 5 meeting last week.

The DOT plan has received endorsements from CB 4 and CB 6 committees, while the CB 5 committee delayed a vote. Implementation is scheduled for spring or summer, the city says.

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