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

Photo: Franz Golhen
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.

  • William Lawson

    How come there is zero mention of whether or not the taxi passenger is being charged? They were the one to commit an act of manslaughter. Everyone has a legal and moral obligation to check behind them before opening a door into a roadway, and doing so without checking would constitute an act of recklessness. If a death ensues then surely there is a case for manslaughter.

  • Simon Phearson

    I’m sure the idea that a taxi passenger could be criminally charged for disembarking into traffic would be wholly novel to the vast majority of the NYPD.

  • Joe R.

    I’m pretty sure they can’t because a passenger isn’t responsible for the way the vehicle is being operated (and opening the door is considered part of operation). Besides that, in the NYPD’s mind this is just another “accident”. Move along now, nothing to see here.

  • Gersh Kuntzman

    There is “zero” mention because the cops specifically said there are no charges. You are right, however, to point out that people exiting a vehicle are responsible for ensuring that they do not injure passing cyclists.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The speed of vehicles and attitude of drivers on the road could possibly intimidated the bicycle into the door zone. For all we know, he might have moved over after being honked at.

  • PDiddy

    He was making a delivery. God damn man. Young guy on an e-bike no less…The streets are not safe for anyone.

    ABC7NY covered it last night.


  • walks bikes drives

    I believe it is the driver who is responsible for not allowing the passenger to open the door when it is not safe, as you allude. Additionally, does not the law say that a taxi must not discharge passengers on the traffic side?

  • Daphna

    It’s absurd that NYPD does not count electric bike riders as bicyclists in their tally of the dead and instead classifies them as motor vehicles drivers.

  • Alex

    I was doored once in Manhattan, luckily the taxi was (double?) parked in both the parking lane and the adjacent travel lane I decided to go around on the driver’s side (parking lane) as I assumed it was safer. I traveled a good number of feet out and would have definitely been run over If i had landed in the adjacent travel lane. That’s why I try to be at least 3 feet from the parked cars, or I would just take the whole lane if there isnt enough space to allow a car to safely pass me. RIP.

  • Daphna

    Correct – it is the driver who is responsible for ensuring the passenger opens the door only when safe. The driver could be given a summons if the NYPD enforced the law.

  • multimodal

    Don’t think that’s true:

    Section 1214 of the Vehicle and Traffic law states “opening and closing vehicle doors – “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic, and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall a person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

    NYCRR- Section 4-12-(c) Getting Out of Vehicle: In New York City: “No person shall get out of any vehicle from the side facing on the traveled part of the street in such manner as to interfere with the right of the operator of an approaching vehicle or a bicycle.”

  • walks bikes drives

    Those are the codes for privately owned vehicles. What about for hire vehicles?

  • multimodal

    I think that these still apply, and that codes for for hire vehicles add on to these, but IANAL.

  • multimodal

    RIP Hugo Garcia. I was also doored on 3rd but got lucky, didn’t get pushed into the street.

  • ulan bat

    it does not matter whether this dude was right or wrong. He’s dead now.

  • qrt145

    How can you hold the driver responsible for the passenger’s behavior when the passenger is free to open the door whenever they want? (Unless the car has “child locks” or something along those lines.)

  • Gerald Cantor

    Biiiiigtime agree

  • Gerald Cantor

    Cabbies should control door locks just like a subway car, unlocking only when safe all around. Should throw the sonofabitch’ll in jail for at least a year and revoke license.That ANNND/OR the person OPening the damn door…major culpability.

  • Gerald Cantor

    Hey. A SUMmons??!just a measly little summons eh. Ooooo, why not just say “naughty naughty” waggibg a finger then sucking your thumb