NYPD: No Charges for Driver Who Fatally Doored Cyclist Aaron Padwee in Long Island City

It's the second time this year a cyclist has died after a car occupant doored him and thrust him into traffic. By failing to enforce the law against dooring, NYPD is signaling to motorists and passengers that they don't have to look out for cyclists.

21st Street and 46th Avenue in Queens. Image: Google Maps
21st Street and 46th Avenue in Queens. Image: Google Maps

A driver doored a cyclist in Long Island City yesterday, throwing him into the path of an unlicensed driver in a commercial box truck who inflicted fatal injuries.

The crash happened at around 3 p.m., as the victim — identified as Aaron Padwee by memorials at the crash site — was biking northbound on 21st Street, approaching 46th Avenue.

“Witnesses told police the cyclist crashed into the opened door, flipping over it,” the Daily News reported. “He landed in front of an oncoming truck, which ran him over, cops said.”

Padwee sustained trauma to his head and body. He was pronounced dead at NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital.

Dooring is illegal, because it injures and kills people. But since NYPD almost never enforces the law, even when the victim dies as a result, drivers and passengers have less incentive to watch what they’re doing.

Police filed no charges against the driver who precipitated yesterday’s crash. Dooring has caused at least six cyclist fatalities in NYC since 2012, including two this year, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog. NYPD issued a ticket in just one of those cases.

“Police officers think that it’s just as much the fault of the cyclist as of the doorers, which is not the law,” attorney Steve Vaccaro, who represents crash victims, told Gothamist after a driver fatally doored delivery worker Juan Pacheco in Manhattan in April. “I don’t think police officers are taught the law about opening doors unsafely.”

The driver of the box truck was identified as 32-year-old Agustin Osorio. According to court records, police and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown charged Osorio with third degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. For running over and killing a person while driving without a valid license, Osorio faces a maximum penalty of 30 days plus a $500 fine, though such cases are normally pled down to a reduced fine and no jail time.

This fatal crash occurred in the 108th Precinct, and in the City Council district represented by Jimmy Van Bramer, who has recently waffled on protected bike lane plans for 43rd Avenue and Skillman Avenue.

Like those streets, 21st Street is a known public safety hazard. At least six people have been killed in crashes on 21st Street since 2009. In 2016, after a hit-and-run driver killed Sean Crume, 45, at 21st Street and 30th, Queens Community Board 1 endorsed a “comprehensive redesign of the entire length of 21st Street along Complete Street principles,” but the city has taken no action since then.

  • Nawc77

    ““I don’t think police officers are taught the law about opening doors unsafely.””

    Funny that they are taught about having 2 earphones in, not using hand signals and crossing T intersections. Those they write tickets for, but killing someone, not so much.

  • J

    Another day in DeBlasio’s “Vision Zero” NYC.

  • J

    If there’s not a quota for it, they ignore it.

  • Reader

    Any statement from the mayor? Too bad the victim didn’t have the foresight to get killed down the street from the Park Slope YMCA because no one at City Hall is going to do anything about this tragedy or the police response.

  • jeremy

    Insane… I got ticketed for a red light a couple blocks away from where the kid was killed… 108 precinct is a disgrace. I tried to argue with them exactly why I run red lights and this is the reason. Enough said. Fuck the precinct

  • BruceWillisThrowsACar@You

    > the police in this city is a disgrace…fuck this city’s police

    FTFY

    Note: I don’t even refer to the organization by name or acronym whatsoever — they don’t even deserve that much.

  • walks bikes drives

    The reality is, do you think a couple hundred dollar ticket is going to actually change behavior? It’s the wrongful death suit that is going to have an impact. Someone give them Steve’s number.

  • Brad Aaron

    And that ticket, which officially establishes fault, would be a big help to Steve.

  • i say it over and over, and get roundly pilloried here and elsewhere, but let’s try again: you have to be utterly f-ing crazy to ride in the door zone, ever. it’s essentially suicide roulette. cars honk at me as i ALWAYS take the lane on crosstown or avenue blocks in Manhattan, but they see me. they see my lights as i occupy the part of the lane DIRECTLY in front of the view of the driver (offset slightly to the left of the middle of the lane, but only SLIGHTLY). that lane is mine. i act like it’s mine. anyone else who wants it has to wait for me. getting doored is not how i’m going out in this life. but giving up the lane is what killed mr. padwee, killed dan hanegby (not doored, i know, but moving to the side to let a bus pass him), and has killed so many others. the more of you who follow my advice the more safe all of us who cycle in the city will be.

    TAKE THE LANE.

  • Simon Phearson

    I know you’ll catch flak for “victim-blaming” here, but I agree. Given that the NYPD doesn’t give a shit (and neither do most drivers or passengers), we cyclists need to get the word out and educate one another as to the risks of door-zone riding. You’re never as far from being doored as you think.

    I was doored just last week – “safely,” thankfully, but a shocking experience nonetheless. I was going up one of those “car alleys” that can emerge on a street with lanes that are wider than necessary for the cars that typically occupy them and was just pushed onto the sidewalk. It was a good reminder to (i) maybe not do that and (ii) stay further away from the lines of parked cars that I typically pass in most of this city’s bike lanes.

  • Guest

    I agree, but the hazard of taking the lane is that car drivers may decide to deliberately ram you from behind. If that happens, whether you survive or not, the driver will be held harmless. From the windshield perspective, you were in the way and deserve what you got.

  • this is incorrect, both anecdotally and legally. please ignore this terrible and wrong-headed advice.

  • Yes. A cyclist who always takes the lane is at a much greater risk of harm from a raging psychopathic motorist than a rider in the door zone is from a dooring.

    A cyclist should take the lane when conditions allow riding at about the same speed as the cars. I have experienced plenty of cases in which I am going at nearly 20 miles per hour on a big street that is not an uphill climb, or at about 10 to 12 miles per hour on a small side street; taking the lane is the thing to do in those settings. But if you’re moving at 10 miles per hour on your bike and the cars are moving at 30 miles per hour or more, you absolutely should not pick that moment to assert your right to the lane.

    Taking lane as matter of course, without any regard to relative speeds, is complete madness.

  • Simon Phearson

    Citing zero evidence as usual.

  • I have a huge body of evidence, in the form of my experience. I’ve experienced plenty of agression towards me from entitlement-drunk sociopaths on occasions when I have taken the lane for the legitimate reason of making a left turn, even on streets where there was a red light ahead (meaning that there was no place for the driver behind me to go, anyway).

    Any reasonable person who has had that experience would presume that taking the lane as a matter of course, and thereby slowing drivers down — sometimes from 30 miles per hour down to 10 miles per hour — would elicit aggression that’s pretty constant, and could easily become dangerous.

    You should take the lane whenever you can. But more important is to recognise when you can’t.

  • Simon Phearson

    It’s funny how yet another one of your “tidbits” comes out in favor of not inconveniencing drivers.

    I have plenty of anecdata, too. Based on this, I would advise cyclists to find alternative routes rather than ride 10 mph on a road where the predominant speed is 30 or faster. I’m not sure I would even ride 20 mph on a road engineered for those speeds. What I would not advise them to do is to ride in the door zone or gutter, which is what you would advise them to do.

  • I don’t care one bit about not inconveniencing drivers. But I care quite a lot about not having them commit acts of violence against me, either with their cars or by getting out and approaching me on foot. (Both of which have happened on occasions when I was taking the lane at a stoplight. So you can’t tell me shit.)

    I don’t carry a weapon, so I am not willing to get into a physical battle with some ignorant savage. What’s more, I know that, in the event of a violent encounter with one of these monsters, I cannot count on authorities who are profoundly biased against me.

    Life as a bicylist in this City is basically good. At the same time, we all must acknowledge that we as bicyclists are vulnerable to the many kinds of danger that come from that arrogantly lawless class of miscreants known as drivers. Common sense requires that a cyclist act to minimise that danger.

    Finally, you suggest not riding on a road where the predominant speed is 30 miles per hour. Congratulations; you just ruled out riding on Woodhaven Boulevard, and on the majority of New York’s through streets any time of day apart from the morning and evening rush.

    I can certainly think of streets that I avoid: Pennsylvania Avenue, parts of Atlantic Avenue, most of Flatbush Avenue. But most streets in our City are ridable; and the appropriate manner is to keep as far right as practicable (alas, often in the “door zone”), while moderating speed in defence of a possible opening door.

    That’s how urban riding is done in the real world; and, until society wises up and bans on-street parking in cities, that’s how it will continue to be done. Taking the lane is certainly preferable when possible; but, sadly, the circumstances in which taking the lane is practical don’t present themselves very often.

  • Simon Phearson

    Good lord, you’re just a fucking moron. Your advice to the slow cyclist on a fast street? Ride slower, and in the door zone.

    No, look – part of the reason dooring is such a hazard is that there’s virtually nothing a cyclist can do to avoid it or mitigate the damage it can cause. You can’t see into people’s cars very easily while riding, and the door-openings you can see and avoid in advance are not the ones that will hit you anyway (never mind that there’s little room for avoidance anyway, in your strategy). It’s the door that slams open when you’re right by it, or just behind it, etc., that hits you. What you are suggesting that cyclists do “in the real world” would just get them killed, if they followed your advice.

    Once again, carrying water for anti-cycling carheads.

    Congratulations; you just ruled out riding on Woodhaven Boulevard, and on the majority of New York’s through streets any time of day apart from the morning and evening rush.

    I seem to get by just fine. No, I wouldn’t ride on Woodhaven, or Northern for that matter (which is more my neck of the woods). I’d stay off McGuinness, and I’m not crazy about Roosevelt or Broadway in Queens. I’ll venture on the lane-less Avenues in Manhattan, but not on a slow bike. Yet somehow, I’ve found pretty direct alternative routes where speeds are calmer. It’s tricky in eastern Queens, what with the parks, the cemeteries, and the non-grid streets, but depending on where people are going, I’d bet it wouldn’t be too hard to find good, alternative speedy routes to Woodhaven. Not sure what your issue is. Look at a map, maybe?

  • You’re right about staying off of Northern Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue. Woodhaven Boulevard is not remotely in that class, nor is Queens’s Broadway. (On Broadway there’s even a short section in which taking the lane is the thing to do, between Northern Boulvard and Newtown Road!)

    But the lengths to which you’ll go in order to concoct supposed evidence of support for a class of people for whom I have nothing but contempt, wow, this is remarkable. It is either a master class in intellectual dishonesty or a tragic display of acute self-delusion.

  • Simon Phearson

    But the lengths to which you’ll go in order to concoct supposed evidence of support for a class of people for whom I have nothing but contempt, wow, this is remarkable. It is either a master class in intellectual dishonesty or a tragic display of acute self-delusion.

    You persist in these bromides about your contempt for auto-centric culture like it gives you any cred, but the only reason I believe that you actually believe them is because your pro-cycling stories about biking to Philly or taking days off from work in order to bike are so preposterous that no carhead could actually come up with them on their own. Otherwise, your program seems to be exactly on all fours with the windshield agenda. I’m forced to infer that you’re just a gullible dupe, too obstinate really to recognize the ways in which you’re serving the causes you disavow.

    Seriously, you’re right here telling cyclists to ride in the door zone so as to avoid pissing off drivers. That is demonstrably bad advice.

  • david

    I kinda do the in between somewhat, I ride in the bike lane, but hug the edge near the street, expecting the door. Either way we are always in danger when riding with cars. I’d take the lane, but lack the balls to do so, as said above, too many crazy drivers to deal with.

  • Simon Phearson

    If there’s a bike lane, I’ll ride in it. Some streets position the lane right against the parking lane, in which case I’ll hug the outside edge of the lane like you do. I only “take the lane” on sharrowed streets or streets without a bike lane.

    On a lot of the streets where I ride, riding in the door zone carries actually two dangers – dooring on one side, and close passes on the other. My sense is that you’re more likely to get a too-close-for-comfort driver trying to pass you while you’re in the door zone than you are an aggressive driver who will run you over while you’re taking the lane. Particularly if you’re on a street with much truck traffic. Truck drivers may not like getting “stuck” behind me, but in my experience they’re far more likely to try to pass me if they feel like I’m letting them than they are to put me in actual danger if I’m they feel like I’m not.

  • multilingualmob

    For drivers: I
    read somewhere to get into the habit of opening your drivers side car
    door with your right hand and not with your left. As this forces your
    head to turn towards the rear of your car. A good practice I would
    think?

    A friend of a friend witnessed this tragedy unfold right before them. The woman just completely swung her door WIDE open into Mr. Padwee’s path is what I was told. Causing him to fall left in between the front and rear wheels of the moving truck. Nothing the truck driver could do. I would think that he didn’t even know what happened in the first few seconds of the accident. The FDNY arrived quickly on scene. But it took the cops almost 2 hours to appear! The woman “doorer” initially denied that Mr Padwee struck her door to police. But there was some evidence of impact on her door. No doubt that Mr. Padwee’s blood is on her hands in my estimation.
    And if you read all the various stories of this tragic event. With divergent leaning views. You get an inkling of fake news.
    Very sad.
    Blessings to the Padwee family.
    Blessings to you all and ride safe!

  • david

    I’ve heard it best to ride on driver’s side.

  • She was double-parked. Aaron Padwee had NOT given up the lane.

  • Andrew

    For drivers: I
    read somewhere to get into the habit of opening your drivers side car door with your right hand and not with your left. As this forces your head to turn towards the rear of your car. A good practice I would think?

    It’s how the Dutch are trained: https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-09-27/easy-maneuver-borrowed-dutch-could-be-life-saving-cyclists

    (Frankly, I don’t care how drivers remember to look before opening the door as long as they remember to look before opening the door.)

  • multilingualmob

    I totally agree with ya Andy. It’s the basic safety for all minimum that makes a civil society. Not safety gimmicks and such. But everything helps.

  • multilingualmob

    My understanding is that she was not double-parked Josh. A friend witnessed this tragic accident and I asked him if she was double parked because I read it in a few articles that she was double-parked. He told me that she was not.
    If she was, it would just make this tragic accident worse with negligence.

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