Madison Lyden Died On Central Park West Because the City “Failed Her”

Activists mourn the death of the Australian tourist one week after a taxi driver and a garbage truck operator teamed up to kill her.

TransAlt's Paul Steely White urged the city to make protected bike lanes the standard that should not wait for deaths like Madison Lyden's last week on Central Park West. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
TransAlt's Paul Steely White urged the city to make protected bike lanes the standard that should not wait for deaths like Madison Lyden's last week on Central Park West. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Dozens of cyclists gathered on Central Park West on Friday afternoon to mourn the death of a bike-riding Australian tourist last week and make one plea to city officials: “Not one more!”

Activists with Transportation Alternatives argued that last Friday’s death of Madison Lyden — who was forced to maneuver out of the Central Park West bike path after her route was blocked by a taxi driver only to be fatally run over by the operator of a garbage truck — showed once again why the tourist and recreational Mecca needs to be ringed by a two-way protected lane.

“Madison Jane Lyden did not have to die,” TransAlt Executive Director Paul Steely White told the three dozen mourners. “She didn’t because it was an ‘accident.’ She died because our city failed her. Our city failed to protect her basic safety.”

Thin white paint doesn't truly protect cyclists.
Thin white paint doesn’t truly protect cyclists.

His group tallied the number of injured cyclists on Central Park West since 2011 — 136, including the one fatality — prompting White to lead a chant of “Not one more!” He also pointed out that the driver of the cab that blocked the bike lane was not charged.

“The city is failing to enforce rules against parking in the bike lane,” White said. “It’s illegal to park in the bike lane! It’s illegal to drop off in the bike lane! But we see it every day. We want NYPD to use a data-driven approach that focuses on infractions that are actually injuring and killing people.”

If the NYPD is unwilling to go after scofflaws, the Department of Transportation must expand street safety redesigns — and not just after deaths like Gelacio Reyes on 43rd Avenue in Queens in 2017 or Joshua Lew and Abigail Blumenstein on Ninth Street in Park Slope in March. Both of those roadways are getting protected bike lanes that could have prevented the deaths.

“Protected bike lanes must be the standard,” White said. “The rule, not the exception.”

White got critical support this week from the neighborhood’s Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who announced her support for a street redesign.

“I want a two-way protected lane not just on Central Park West, but all the way around Central Park,” she told the crowd.

Seconds after the rally to mourn the death of Madison Lyden, a cab double-parked in the bike lane in the exact manner that led to her death a week earlier. It happened a dozen times during the brief event.
Seconds after the rally to mourn the death of Madison Lyden, a cab double-parked in the bike lane in the exact manner that led to her death a week earlier. It happened a dozen times during the brief event.

As White and Rosenthal spoke, of course, taxi drivers continued to block the bike path, forcing cyclists into the roadway. And there’s a certain irony to demands for a redesign because the flaws of Central Park West are the same as many, many streets in New York City: a bike lane that offers protection to cyclists in the form of millimeters of white paint that sits inches from buses moving in and out of a bus stop, itself inches from two lanes of uptown traffic, one of which is constantly blocked by turning vehicles that cars swerve around into the bike lane.

The main difference is this bike lane is next to one of the world’s great tourist attractions.

But it is also in a neighborhood that has fought efforts to redesign the street for a predictable, if misguided, reason.

“Some people think parking is more important than human life, that a few parking spaces are more important than safety,” White said. “We want to the mayor to choose human life over parking and remove some spaces.”

Council Member Helen Rosenthal supports a street redesign, but declined to call for removal of on-street car storage.
Council Member Helen Rosenthal supports a street redesign, but declined to call for removal of on-street car storage.

Car ownership on the Upper West Side is lower than the city average with fewer than 25 percent of households owning a car — meaning that the vast majority of Upper West Side residents have no need for on-street private car storage in the public right of way.

For all her support for a protected bike lane, Rosenthal was flummoxed when Streetsblog asked her if she would support the removal of on-street car storage in a neighborhood where the majority of residents don’t need it.

Streetsblog: If you remove the parking lane, there would be more room for the majority of users of the public roadways: buses, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Where are you on the issue of private car storage in the public right of way?

Rosenthal: You know, I hear what you’re getting at. So don’t think me daft, but my energy is entirely into getting the MTA fixed. The single biggest reason that we have so much congestion and so many cars on the road is because of the MTA not doing its job. … That’s where my focus is. I understand your question and where you’re coming from, but in my mind, this is all caused by a broken MTA.

Streetsblog: But if you remove a lane of parking, it would help congestion…

Rosenthal: I’m looking forward to seeing the street design for the two-way bike lane circling the park, so we’ll see.

The event ended with cyclists taking over one lane of the uptown roadway to 110th Street.
The event ended with cyclists taking over one lane of the uptown roadway to 110th Street.
  • AaronLubenstein

    Time to get rid of bicycle lanes and ban bicycles from the street of Manhattan. This City runs thanks to the motor vehicles. We,car owners, pay huge insurance. Punks on bicycles take your bicycles and go upstate NY.

  • Joe R.

    If you want to live a suburban lifestyle driving everywhere, NYC is not for you. Plenty of other places you can go and play with your smelly, hulking death machines. Cycling, walking, and public transit are the best ways to get around cities, not driving. If we should ban anything from Manhattan, it should be private automobiles.

    And you car owners pay huge insurance because you don’t know how the f*ck to drive. Maybe if you stopped crashing into everything, including this poor cyclist, your insurance rates would go down.

  • AaronLubenstein

    NYC has always been about cars and that’s the how the city is able to function 24/7 if you want to live your suburban hippy dippy delusional lifestyle you should move to SC or suburbs of DC. Punks on the bicycles are DNA waste.

  • Joe R.

    Check your history. Cars didn’t even exist until the late 19th century. They didn’t exist in large numbers until after WWII. Yes, NYC needs motor vehicles like delivery trucks, emergency vehicles, buses, construction vehicles, sanitation trucks, and so forth to function. Private autos just slow down all the essential vehicles. If they all disappeared tomorrow NYC would still function just fine. In fact, it would function better. Essential vehicles would be able to get around faster.

    I think it’s rich that your only response to this tragedy is to call cyclists punks. You’re the punk. I wish Miss Lyden’s family could spend a few minutes alone with you.

    Punks on the bicycles are DNA waste.

    What an ironic comment to make when an infamous head of state from the past thought something similar about the group you’re a part of. You’re disgusting.

  • JarekFA

    Is this sarcasm? The neighborhood in question has less than 1/4 car ownership rate.

  • JarekFA

    Thanks for exposing how utterly full of shit Helen Rosenthal is when it comes to protected bike lanes and saving lives. Parking over lives all day and she 100% reaffirmed that view. The MTA, for all its faults, works relatively well for UWS’ers. The MTA, isn’t the source of all that congestion. Such fucking cowardice.

  • Joe R.

    Sadly, I don’t think it is. If this is indeed sarcasm, then my apologies to Mr. Lubenstein for my response.

  • AaronLubenstein

    Yes it is. I graduated from sarcasm with honors. If you don’t own a car because you can’t afford and/or don’t know how to drive take a cab or subway, not a bicycle.

  • Wow, a gatekeeper for everyone!

  • AaronLubenstein

    Yep

  • Maggie

    Do you live in New York? I see you spend a whole lot of time commenting on Slovakia.

  • Maggie

    I’m her constituent and I fully expect her to tirelessly push DOT until a protected bike lane is installed here asap. I think she just veered off topic a little when Streetsblog gave her an opening to say that DOT shouldn’t have to dither around asking community board members whether they individually choose safe street designs that keep people alive. It’s a little bit of a word salad, but this was a hot Friday afternoon, a tragic and emotional event, I believe she’s got a broken foot so she was literally hopping out of a wheelchair to speak, and by the way it is shitty and infuriating to many that the MTA is closing its CPW stations to renovate them while ignoring the ADA.

    She could have spoken more clearly on the cost to everybody when we prioritize parking spots instead of redesigning streets for the benefit of the whole community.

  • AaronLubenstein

    Yes, keeping an eye on the weather there

  • Alexis Leonardo Solórzano

    What does paying insurance have to with it? You pay insurance because youre driving a 4000lb machine that can easily kill a person. Not everyone has the luxury to afford a car and bikes can even be a better transportation option than cars or the subway. Don’t be salty because you have to pay $1000+ a year to drive your car. Cyclists have every right to use the road just like you.

  • AaronLubenstein

    No you don’t. Bicycles are nuisance. You don’t respect traffic laws. You run red lights and have no respect for pedestrians. I haven’t seen a properly equipped bicycle yet. And 90% of bicyclists are punks.

  • cjstephens

    Out of curiosity, Maggie, do you own a car?

  • Maggie

    Why would that matter?

  • cjstephens

    Because you’re going to extraordinary lengths to defend her indefensible position. You’re basically saying it’s OK for her to value free parking over human lives. Who else would do that except someone who worries about losing her free parking space?

  • Maggie

    Oh, sorry – I think we need a protected bike lane along CPW. I do like CM Rosenthal though.

  • cjstephens

    We know that Rosenthal won’t go on the record saying that even a single parking spot should be sacrificed for pedestrian and cyclist safety, even when Streetsblog gave her the perfect opportunity to do so, at a vigil for a cyclist who was killed. But you still like her? Politicians like her are the reason we don’t have more protected bike lanes.

  • Maggie

    She’s on record asking for a protected bike lane here. I personally am more angry at the mayor, who should also be on record supporting more infrastructure and faster. Never again should it take someone’s death to get a bike lane installed. We will have an endless trail of tragedies that a bolder vision would have prevented.

    That said, whether the bike lane on CPW means narrowing moving lanes from 4 to 3 or keeping 4 moving lanes and replacing a parking lane? I actually don’t GAF. I’m not a traffic engineer. I see it as their purview. The essential for me is the bike lane.

  • cjstephens

    And yet you still don’t mention whether or not you have a car you park on the street…

  • Maggie

    Because it doesn’t matter, is why.

    You have the neighborhood car ownership rate below. Like 74% of the resident households, I don’t own a car.

    Now, in a thread on a woman’s death with a troll deriding tourists who ride bikes as “DNA waste”, I think it’s odd to spend time implying my views are more or less valid based on whether I own a car.

  • cjstephens

    Your views seemed suspect because you went to such great lengths to defend Rosenthal, who gives lip service to bike lanes, but when push comes to shove, won’t fight for them because she sides with the 26% of your neighbors who put free car storage above the lives of those who ride bicycles.

  • Maggie

    That’s just flat-out absurd to say about CM Rosenthal. She absolutely supports bike lanes. Do you live in the district?

  • cjstephens

    I’m UES, not UWS. But it’s not absurd. Streetsblog threw her a softball at this press conference and she refused to side with those of us who don’t own cars. Period.

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