Private Trash Hauler Kills Madison Jane Lyden, 23, Biking on Central Park West

A livery driver obstructed the unprotected bike lane on Central Park West, forcing Lyden into motor vehicle traffic.

The unprotected bike lane on Central Park West at 66th Street, via Google Maps
The unprotected bike lane on Central Park West at 66th Street, via Google Maps

A private trash hauler struck and killed Madison Jane Lyden, 23, as she biked on Central Park West shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday.

Between 66th Street and 67th Street, a livery driver pulled into the northbound bike lane and obstructed Lyden’s way, reports the West Side Rag. As she biked around the obstruction, the garbage truck driver struck her. Lyden, who was visiting New York from Australia, was declared dead at Roosevelt Hospital.

The truck driver had several cans of beer in his cab and will be charged for driving under the influence, Captain Timothy Malin, commanding officer of the 20th Precinct, told the Rag.

Industrywide, private carting companies are notoriously dangerous, both for workers and for the public at large. Private carters have now struck and killed at least 44 people in New York since 2010, but the industry is mobilizing against reforms to impose safer conditions.

Mayor de Blasio has previously said that it’s okay for drivers to block bike lanes for pick-ups and drop-offs. He came to the crash scene on Friday after a nearby event with Parkland shooting survivors and told people to drive carefully but did not say anything about obstructing bike lanes:

Like other streets next to parks, Central Park West is ideal for a protected bike lane because one side of the street has very few intersections. If Lyden had been biking with physical protection from motor vehicle traffic, she likely would still be alive.

In a statement, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said that a fatal crash on Central Park West was “waiting to happen”:

Every day in this city, bike lanes meant to protect people on bikes are used as drop-off lanes, parking lanes, and idling lanes for lazy and entitled drivers. As a city we should be ashamed, because this death could have been prevented. More and more people are traveling by bike in our city, and they need safe, protected space. And while we have more protected lane-miles today than ever before, this preventable death underscores the need for every major street in New York City to have a safe, protected space to travel by bike.

Streetsblog will have more on this story as it develops.

  • Pick-ups and drop-offs in a bike lane are absolutely not tolerable. This is what caused my current injury; though, compared to the cyclist here who was killed, I got away lucky.

    De Blasio is a spineless weasel for making excuses for drivers’ lawlessness and for not categorically condemning the blocking of bike lanes.

  • walks bikes drives

    I use that bike lane daily. It is always obstructed. I can usually only get maybe 2 or 3 blocks between obstructions.

    The trash hauler should not have even been on the block. CPW is passenger cars only, no commercial vehicles.

    According to the law, the livery driver who blocked the bike lane is very clearly liable for her death.

  • Guest

    I am so angry about this. You can do everything right: looks for signs that a driver is about to turn in front of you (lights, person in car), then once they do, look behind you before you swerve, but if they do it right in front of you, this could have been any one of us. We make it through each day alive largely because of sheer luck, no matter the reflexes and caution. Not only is there no space for error, but no error is not enough to survive.

    My only hope is that with De Blasio stumbling upon the scene, despite his disappointing statement at the time, he’ll be moved to do more for Vision Zero. I really hope that being there shortly after, with the crumbled bike, car, and trash truck still there, and perhaps blood in the street, he will understand a little better. Though windshield perspective is a helluva drug.

    I am so sorry for Ms Lyden.

  • Fractal

    The “livery” driver pulling out from the kerb into the bike lane seems tohave been the cause of the crash, why the emphasis on the garbage truck driver?

  • Larry Littlefield

    It seems to be open season on young women on bikes the past few months. As a father of two of them, this is extremely upsetting.

    I’ve tried to make the case that to preserve their own future health, as their responsibilities grow and time for exercise disappears (as it did for us, after we had children), travel by bicycle is a good thing.

    This doesn’t help. For my birthday, one of my daughters gave me a medical information carrier to attach to my helmet.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’ve heard the garbage truck driver was DUI, the one thing drivers are apparently to blame for.

    I guess the rest of the blame, as generally perceived, goes to the cyclist for not being careful enough when moving outside the bike lane. Although she might have been struck even if there were no bike lane, simply for riding outside the door zone.

    BTW, one of the objections to the Prospect Park West bike lane by its opponents is that the city would never put a two-way protected bike lane on upscale Central Park West. Which is also an exception to the one-way street pairs.

  • Because if you cannot stop in time at the sudden appearance of someone in front of you, then you were going too fast for conditions, or you were not paying sufficient attention, or both.

  • Fractal

    The way I read it (reports vary) was that the driver pulled out from the kerb suddenly, giving the cyclist no alternative but to swerve into the traffic lane. The truck driver probably had no time to avoid the cyclist, DUI or not. The police havnt charged him with causing death I note.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Just the easiest to charge. The public, or some of them, wants someone blamed, blame the guy with the beer.

    That is the problem with for-hire vehicles of all kinds — the moving to and from the curb across your bicycle.

  • HamTech87

    CPW needs a two-way PBL, just like Prospect Park in Brooklyn and now Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. And all the parking spaces need to have a high price on them, so as Donald Shoup says, there are one or two empty spaces on every block (probably every two blocks given how short these are). Only when we have smarter parking pricing, coupled with enforcement, will the scourge of double-parking end.

  • van_vlissingen

    20th Precinct CO: “Our preliminary investigation has found that the actions of the bicyclist did not contribute to the collision. The actions of the TLC [livery] vehicle driver did contribute to the collision. Whether that driver receives summonses or is arrested depends on the District Attorney’s office.”

  • Andrew

    My only hope is that with De Blasio stumbling upon the scene, despite his disappointing statement at the time, he’ll be moved to do more for Vision Zero.

    I wish I could be so optimistic.

  • MatthewEH

    Livery driver came from the curb lane. Which wasn’t blocked by parked cars because… the driver was standing in a bus stop. Smh.

  • sbauman

    It’s also illegal. NYC Traffic Regulations: Section 4-11 (c)

    Section 4-11

    (c) Pickup and discharge of passengers by taxis, commuter vans and for-hire vehicles.
    Operators of taxis, commuter vans and for-hire vehicles may, in the course of the lawful operation of
    such vehicles, temporarily stop their vehicles to expeditiously pick up or discharge passengers at the
    curb in areas where standing or parking is prohibited. Taxis, commuter vans and for-hire vehicles,
    while engaged in picking up or discharging passengers must be within 12 inches of the curb and
    parallel thereto, but may stop or stand to pick up or discharge passengers alongside a vehicle parked
    at the curb only if there is no unoccupied curb space available within 100 feet of the pickup or
    discharge location; however, picking up or discharging passengers shall not be made:
    (1) Within a pedestrian crosswalk.
    (2) Within an intersection, except on the side of a roadway opposite a street which intersects but
    does not cross such roadway.
    (3) Alongside or opposite any street excavation when stopping to pick up or discharge
    passengers obstructs traffic.
    (4) Under such conditions as to obstruct the movement of traffic and in no instance so as to
    leave fewer than 10 feet available for the free movement of vehicular traffic.
    (5) Where stopping is prohibited.
    (6) Within a bicycle lane.
    (7) Within horse-drawn carriage boarding areas.

  • sbauman

    NYC Traffic Rules Section 4-11 (p)(2)

    (2) Driving on or across bicycle lanes prohibited. No person shall drive a vehicle on or across
    a designated bicycle lane, except when it is reasonable and necessary:
    (i) to enter or leave a driveway; or
    (ii) to enter or leave a legal curbside parking space; or
    (iii) to cross an intersection; or
    (iv) to make a turn within an intersection; or
    (v) to comply with the direction of any law enforcement officer or other person authorized to
    enforce this rule; or
    (vi) to avoid an obstacle which leaves fewer than ten feet available for the free movement of
    vehicular traffic.
    Notwithstanding any other rule, no person shall drive a vehicle on or across a designated bicycle
    lane in such manner as to interfere with the safety and passage of persons operating bicycles

  • So, the, what is de Blasio talking about when he tries to excuse this practice? How did no journalist cite this to him?

  • thomas040

    two way barrier protected lane here would be great, and it would leave 90% of the parking spaces in place. Sort of like the lower east side one off 2nd avenue.

  • Andrew

    I can’t imagine that he believes it’s actually legal. He just thinks that motorists should be excused for breaking this law just as motorists are excused for breaking so many other laws.

  • You’re right. That statement of his shows his ugly biases.

  • MatthewEH

    Not possible without eliminating a travel lane instead of parking.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Eliminating a travel lane is possible if CPW becomes one of a two-way pair, like every other street up the Upper West Side other than Broadway.

  • MatthewEH

    Not really; Amsterdam and Columbus are the only paired set of one-way avenues on the UWS. Riverside, West End, and CPW are all two-way avenues. I’m also loathe to make more one-way streets in Manhattan generally; it’s worse for bike circulation and turns the avenues into speedways. If anything, we should be looking for ways to make one-way aves into two-way again, not the other way around.

    I don’t think putting southbound M10 buses onto Columbus would work out so well either, btw, at stops already shared with the M7 and M11.

    What I’d most like to see on CPW, actually, is a 4-3 conversion, put a protected two-way bike lane on the east side of the avenue, and making the street transit-priority somehow to make up for the lost traffic throughput. And general traffic-calming measures to make the street more livable and to help with how car traffic would interact with bike traffic at the transverse entrances, which would be the really tricky part of this design. Maybe require that cars aimed at the transverses approach from the west and not be allowed to make turns (left or right) across the bike path to do it.

  • iSkyscraper

    This is terrible.

  • HamTech87

    That seems really interesting. Has that been proposed by anyone?

  • MatthewEH

    Not that I’m aware. 🙂

    The other possibility would be to keep 4 traffic lanes, eliminate the parking on the east side of the avenue entirely, and put up a buffer area separating the bidirectional bike lane from the #2 northbound traffic lane, with plastic pylons sectioning it off. This preserves driver visibility on what’s happening in the bike lane a little better than if there’s a row of parked cars in the way. I still don’t trust drivers to make north-to-east right hand turns from the #2 lane without right-hooking people, though; I still think it’d be best to disallow that turn at any of the transverses. Messing up the cliche a little bit to fit the situation, two wrongs don’t make a right, but 3 lefts do make a right.

    We’d just have to have the political will to eliminate ~250 parking spaces to do that. (I figure there are about 6 spots on the average block of CPW. Recall there’re bus stops on nearly every other block here. On the subject, the bus stops would have to move out into the #2 lane rather than being curbside.)

  • keeptrucksoffCPW

    CPW is not a truck route. What with this truck doing traveling from downtown to The Bronx via CPW?

  • Cowwow

    Idunno…to murder a 23 y/o for lawsuit money/body parts/sport???

    whatawegonnado tomorrow Pinky…

  • David Hoffman

    Why don’t we have motor scooters out there in greater numbers? They can usually keep up with the acceleration and deceleration of cars, buses, and trucks better than the average citizen trying to operate a bicycle. The USA seems to have no popular intermediate step between even the small two seat city cars and bicycles. Other nations have large percentages of scooter and motorcycle usage.