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Hours into 2019, a Cyclist is Doored to Death [UPDATED]

Photo: Franz Golhen

UPDATE | A cyclist became the first victim of road violence in 2019 when he was doored into traffic on busy Third Avenue in Brooklyn and then run over by another driver just hours after the ball dropped in Times Square.

Police say Hugo Garcia, 26, was cycling on an electric bicycle near 28th Street at 5:59 a.m. on Tuesday when a passenger in a 2009 Toyota taxi opened his or her door into him, causing him to fall off the bike and land in one of the northbound lanes on the highway-like street.

That's where the 53-year-old driver of a 2013 Nissan ran over him. Emergency workers took the unresponsive Garcia to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn where he died. The operators of both vehicles remained on scene, and neither was immediately charged.

Third Avenue is a particularly dangerous stretch of roadway, and activists have been calling for street safety improvements for years.

"This morning’s deadly crash ... could have been prevented," Transportation Alternatives Co-Interim Director Ellen McDermott said in a statement. "Brooklyn’s Third Avenue has not been redesigned to safely accommodate all users regardless of their mode of transport. On the stretch of Third Avenue where this crash occurred, there is no dedicated right of way for people on bikes — just three wide lanes for moving cars and trucks, and one lane for storing them."

McDermott also put in a plug for the Vision Zero Street Design Standard bill, which would require the city to install safety improvements, such as protected bike lanes, whenever streets are repaved. The bill, Intro 322, was introduced last year by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

"Life-saving measures, like protected bike lanes, must be applied wherever possible and as a matter of policy — not just when it is politically palatable or after a bicyclist has been killed," McDermott said. "This is the only way to create a connected, city-wide network of protected bike lanes. ... The Vision Zero Street Design Standard bill should be a top priority for the City Council this year."

Garcia becomes the first cyclist to die in 2019. Last year, 13 cyclists were killed by drivers — though only 10 were included in the official NYPD count. Three cyclists total — including MD Rajon, who died in December in a still-unsolved hit-and-run in East New York — were classified as motor-vehicle drivers because they were on e-bikes like Garcia's.

The NYPD decision to classify electric bicycles as motor vehicles has not publicly been discussed, but may stem from Mayor de Blasio's crackdown on e-bike riders. The NYPD did not respond to several requests by Streetsblog for clarification.

Story was updated on Wednesday at 11:23 a.m. to reflect more information about the number of 2018 e-bike victims.

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