Cyclist Killed In Borough Park After Being Doored into Traffic

The intersection of 17th Avenue and 53rd Street is classic de Blasian chaos. This is pretty much every day in Borough Park. Photo: Google
The intersection of 17th Avenue and 53rd Street is classic de Blasian chaos. This is pretty much every day in Borough Park. Photo: Google

A teenager was killed by the driver of a van who ran over him after he was doored by a passenger in a parked car on a busy two-way street in Borough Park, police said.

The 16-year old cyclist, whose name was not initially released by police, was heading northbound on 17th Avenue at around 5:38 p.m. when he was forced into traffic to avoid the open door of a parked car.

The wording of the police report is telling here:

“He swerved to avoid a parked car that was opening it’s [sic] door,” the police report said, suggesting that cars open doors on their own. “The bicyclist struck the door, which caused him to fall to the ground where he was struck by a white 2013 Econoline E350 that was also heading north on 17th Avenue.”

The operators of both vehicles remained on the scene and were not charge, police said. The teenager, identified by the Daily News as Yisroel Schwartz, was taken to Maimonides Hospital, where he died.

He’s the ninth cyclist killed so far this year, police statistics show. According to the NYPD, just 10 cyclists were killed in all of 2018. Total road fatalities are up 21 percent so far this year, again according to the NYPD.

NYPD's "TrafficStat" shows that fatalities on New York roads are up more than 20 percent versus the same period last year.
NYPD’s “TrafficStat” shows that fatalities on New York roads are up more than 20 percent versus the same period last year.

The cyclist’s death is reminiscent of the killing of Madison Lyden, an Australian tourist who was run over by a truck driver after swerving to avoid a cab that had cut her off to park in a painted bike lane on Central Park West. The death has spurred calls for a protected cycle path on Central Park West — which the city is reportedly planning to create later this year.

  • Boeings+Bikes

    Not charged? Dooring a cyclist is one of the few things that is specifically cited in the vehicle code as being illegal!

  • Eric McClure

    Ian beat me to it. Dooring is a crime. Charge the person responsible.

  • Lest we forget

    Less than a month ago, twenty six year old cyclist Pedro Tepozteco was killed just a few blocks away from this location (https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/04/17/two-people-are-dead-in-separate-incidents-in-brooklyn-and-queens/).

  • SSkate

    Not to be callous with statistics, but I believe this is the fifth S Brooklyn cyclist killed in traffic this year? Just a day or two ago postings/articles were obsessing that half of NYC cyclist traffic deaths occurred in the S Bk.

    (Been doored multiple times while skating NYC streets. Happy to be alive.)

  • Take the lane. Take the lane. Take the lane .

    Door zones are death traps. I say this every time on these stories, but these stories keep needing to be told. This kid died because we have cyclists on new York that timidity in the face of the enemy is the proper course of action. That is wrong. When there is no bone lane and your are on a street that isn’t a freeway, take the damn lane and let them honk at you. At least you will live to tell the tale.

  • Vooch

    using a blinky light during the day has saved me many many times from being doored.

    and always take the lane

  • Twofooted

    Bill de Bloodonhishands

  • Here we go again. I absolutely hate “Law & Order: Comments Section.”

    Saying this kid died because of timidity is an offensive thing to say and you should consider deleting your comment. Imagine you were his parent and came across this story. He was a teenager! Don’t blame him. Door zones are death traps, but it’s not his fault for riding in a space that says “ride here.” Direct your blame to a feckless mayor and conflict-averse DOT commissioner who refuse to take cycling safety seriously.

    Remember, lots of experienced cyclists have been killed out there doing everything they were “supposed” to do. Aurilla Lawrence is only the most recent example among many. Please stop victim blaming and let’s all resist the urge to second guess dead people. Punch up, not down.

  • Alex

    I always take the lane or try to ride on the left side of roads like this (since youre less likely to get doored from the passenger side). I can understand why most people, especially kids like this one, would try to stay close to the parked vehicles. No one wants to ride closer to fast moving traffic. He is one of the unlucky ones who got doored into moving traffic.

    I was doored when going around a taxi parked in the middle of the parking lane and adjacent moving lane. Luckily, and unluckily I suppose, I decided to go around the parking lane side and I got doored into the parking lane rather than just going around the taxi on the travel lane side. I probably wouldn’t have gotten doored if I went around the travel lane side, but if I did, I might not be here right now.

    I wish there were programs in schools to teach kids, who are probably starting to ride bikes on the street, the safe practices of cycling. Most parents probably don’t give them the right information, as most are probably motorists and just tell them to stay close to the parking lane rather than the travel lane. I believe there are some programs about kids learning about crossing the street, the same should apply to bicycles.

  • Larry Littlefield

    No one is blaming the kid. He did nothing wrong.

    But this comment is like saying people should lock their doors is like blaming them for being robbed. I’d say fight back and take the lane on a narrow street.

  • No, that’s absolutely what that comment is saying. We shouldn’t expect kids to “fight back” against 4,000-pound SUVS and even heavier trucks. Enough.

  • JarekFA

    “taking the lane” on a street like that requires you to ride aggressively as you will get honked and punished passed. Vehicular cycling isn’t for everyone. Def no 8-80.

    But let’s be clear — we accept these deaths as the cost of allowing people to store their private cars on public property. I’m increasingly convinced that we should be pushing for a comprehensive network (not this piece-meal 4 blocks here, 3 blocks there bullshit) invoking best practices all over the city and not accept these shitty parking protected lanes.

    To get people to willingly give up their cars, then we need a real good bike lane network with physical curbs and jersey barriers or whatever. But not this shit. We need to get rid of parking for our network to succeed and we need a damn good network to make getting rid of parking politically palatable. Otherwise, this shit will happen. Heartbreaking.

  • absolutely not doug (and i love and respect you so much so please read what i wrote clearly.)

    we, adults, are often riding, based on our own choice of “what’s worst” in the door zone. i go back and forth every day on 28th and 29th in chelsea. I see other riders who have been taught, mostly by some sort of SICK consensus, that the right thing to do on a block of 28th that is two full lanes is to ride in a VERY dangerous door zone rather than taking one of the two lanes. by doing so, not only are they endangering themselves (as happened on 26th with dan hanegby, a man i knew well from our kids’ shared school) but they are endangering riders who are taking the lane. the worst thing that EVER HAPPENS TO ME IS I GET HONKED AT. but i have witnessed numerous doorings or near doorings. i’ll take the honking. i’m not blaming a 16 year old kid for his own death, but we have to assign realistic blame to a system that allows adults to “tell” a child (whether with words or with behavior) to do something, namely ride in the door zone, that is antithetical to their health.

    to me, the here we go again, is to say that plainly seeing the world as it exists is some cheap TV show knock off.

  • correct jarek, that is what it does. THE CARS ARE THERE. i too want to live in your utopia (but not near utopia parkway, thanks very much) but i don’t. so i have to make real world daily choices that take into consideration the fact that i have a family to support. and to be in the door zone is to say “i don’t care about my family, i care about being polite to the monster who drive around our city every day.”

    if we all stop doing this, if we stop being in the door zone and start taking what is rightfully ours, it will actually force change in this city. and in the interim it makes us all safer.

  • but there are 4000 pound SUVS and heavier trucks. what world are we pretending we live in? what is the best choice for each of us in the actually existing circumstances that surround us? i can tell you that this child, who was engaged in the wonderful and beautiful act of using his body to take him around our city, for actual ascertainable reasons chose to do so in a manner that led to his death. that is not blaming the victim! that’s blaming those who think that the ghetto/gutter mentality of “just ride in this incredibly dangerous way in order to…(in order to what, exactly?) appease drivers, or be polite, or do what other people have died doing” is risibly wrong. and to keep saying this is victim blaming in beneath you.

  • i’m a huge fan of lumo.cc and their jackets with lights. they are the best.

  • Sorry. Strong disagree. People have been killed, injured or harassed by angry drivers. Had this kid been in the middle of the street, plenty of people would flood the comments saying he should have been in the bike lane. My overall comment: don’t judge individual actions because when you’re killed or I am who knows what people will say we could have been doing better. Fight for a better system.

  • on that i strongly agree with you, and i do fight for that better system, every day. the effectiveness of the fight is intertwined for me with the daily actions i take with my bike, and it’s impossible for me to separate the two. but i think you are an incredible advocate and honestly i would max out for you if you decide that a quixotic run for mayor is in your future.

  • I promise that my quixotic run for mayor will make about as much sense as someone’s quixotic run for president.

  • 8FH

    I agree with everyone here. I always take the lane to avoid this sort of thing. But I get constant abuse and dangerous behavior from drivers who are personally affronted by me being there.

    I don’t blame anyone for not taking the lane, but we need a major campaign to make it clear to everyone that cyclists may take the lane, that it’s safer, and that they are not to be harassed.

  • Joe R.

    You’re right but keep in mind he was 16 years old. I was still mostly riding on the sidewalk at that age because I didn’t feel comfortable in the streets. In fact, NYC should revise the law to allow cyclists of any age to use most sidewalks. It’s not ideal, but it’s often safer than using the street for young, inexperienced cyclists.

  • Dan Sullivan

    The crime is making cyclist think they belong in the door zone, and most bike lane advocacy groups are guilty of that crime. They have even put in door zone bike lanes and defended them until the pushback became overwhelming.

  • Dan Sullivan

    Idiots ride in door zones, and idiots advocate riding in door zones. We need a vehicle code that makes everyone responsible for being reasonable, not one that expects motorists to be perfect so cyclists can be idiots.

    And yes, I spend more time cycling than driving.

  • Joe R.

    The problem with taking the lane (and I say this as someone who often does take the lane) is that it’s not really safe unless you can match the speed of motor traffic. You’re still depending upon motorists to be perfect, in that a cyclist taking the lane, but moving slower than motor traffic, expects the motorist behind them to first of all, see them, and second to either safely pass them or reduce their speed after that. Given the prevalence of distracted driving, I’m not even all that confident in them even seeing me, much less not rear-ending me. When I take the lane, either it’s because I can keep up with motor traffic, or it’s late nights when the lane is mostly empty. I can hear motorists overtaking me long before they reach me. I’ll just move over to let them pass, then resume riding in the lane.

  • Joe R.

    That’s exactly the problem with advocating taking the lane. I take the lane whenever practical, but that often means drafting large vehicles and riding at 30+ mph. This isn’t something for the 8 to 80 crowd. The only place where taking the lane is feasible for most cyclists is on quiet, narrow side streets where the pace of motor traffic is maybe 15 to 20 mph. It’s on such streets where I first started taking the lane. As I got faster and more confident, I took the lane on some arterials, also. However, taking the lane is a tool. Cyclists should learn how to do it but it shouldn’t be the default way of riding.

  • yes i agree with you wholeheartedly. my son is 13 and the only reason i let him ride is the sidewalk is there, and where i am in chelsea is mostly pretty wide.

  • Boeings+Bikes

    I look forward to you telling your granny who wants to take her Dutch bike out to pick up flowers and a loaf of bread that she’s an idiot for not wanting to “educate” the coked-up operator of a 2-ton Ford Destructor that she’s totally justified for being 6′ away from the parked cars as the traffic roars up behind her at 45 mph. Good luck staying out of the door zone on the miserable speedways that you occasionally need to traverse to get from place to place. You are thinking only of yourself and broadcasting your short-sighted selfishness to absolve others of basic responsibility under the law and basic decency. Nice.

  • Boeings+Bikes

    And as of yesterday, it is now 6 out of 10 (the latest not specifically “south” but not in “privileged Brooklyn”): https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/05/16/nypd-is-quick-to-blame-latest-cyclist-victim-for-his-own-death/

  • “The problem with taking the lane (and I say this as someone who often does take the lane) is that it’s not really safe unless you can match the speed of motor traffic. ”

    Not really. Taking the lane has nothing to do with matching the speed of same-direction traffic. It has to do with being in a position on the road where you’re seen and where you’re relevant.

    “You’re still depending upon motorists to be perfect, in that a cyclist taking the lane, but moving slower than motor traffic, expects the motorist behind them to first of all, see them, and second to either safely pass them or reduce their speed after that. Given the prevalence of distracted driving, I’m not even all that confident in them seeing me, much less not rear-ending me.”

    While motorists getting distracted is a legitimate concern, the primary place they’re looking is still directly in front of them which is where they are piloting their vehicle. If you’re there, there’s a damn good chance they’ll see you.

    “When I take the lane, either it’s because I can keep up with motor traffic, or it’s late nights when the lane is mostly empty. I can hear motorists overtaking me long before they reach me. I’ll just move over to let them pass, then resume riding in the lane. I don’t stay in the lane when faster motor traffic is behind me.”

    Where I live and ride, we have no choice but to take the lane on many roads, even high speed “stroads.” It seriously doesn’t matter whether we can “keep up” or not. What matters is that we’re in an area where we’re seen. We do move over when it’s safe of course.

  • “I look forward to you telling your granny who wants to take her Dutch bike out to pick up flowers and a loaf of bread that she’s an idiot for not wanting to “educate” the coked-up operator of a 2-ton Ford Destructor that she’s totally justified for being 6′ away from the parked cars as the traffic roars up behind her at 45 mph.”

    You’ve presented here a complete bullshit and heavily exaggerated straw man argument. Anybody can learn to cycle safely in traffic. They just have to learn from the right people. Those right people don’t promote this “us versus them” garbage nor identity politics nor whiny victimhood couples nonsense.

    “Good luck staying out of the door zone on the miserable speedways that you occasionally need to traverse to get from place to place. ”

    Again, you’ve presented bullshit whining victimhood nonsense. It’s seriously not that hard to cycle out of the door zone once you get over the fear-mongering nonsense promoted by facilities advocates.

    “You are thinking only of yourself and broadcasting your short-sighted selfishness to absolve others of basic responsibility under the law and basic decency. Nice.”

    You don’t have the slightest idea what Mr. Sullivan or anybody else is thinking.

  • Vooch

    Before – daytime blinky; constantly having near misses with dooring

    After – daytime blinky, a rare occurance, hardly ever happens

  • Dan Sullivan

    There is nothing wrong with moving over when it is safe to do so. Indeed, that is what slower traffic is supposed to do regardless of vehicle type. You are still safer putting yourself in the direct field of vision of the drivers behind you and moving over when appropriate than putting yourself where you are less likely to be noticed.

    Bike lane advocacy groups are run by people who know a lot more about PR and fundraising than they know about cycling, and they have endangered a lot of people by promoting really bad designs.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dff1f85271f7893f1e3cc097a0a1d7e28e14854aaebefc67106fd18f18670afc.png

  • Dan Sullivan

    Nice paranoid rant. If that is what drivers are like where you live, you might want to take the bus or ride on back roads. That “coked-up operator” is still more likely to hit Granny when she is knocked off her bike in a door zone than when she is riding in the traffic lane, and is even less likely to see her at all if she is riding in the door zone.

    Rationality and paranoia don’t go well together, and don’t produce good results.

  • Dan Sullivan

    They teach school kids in the Netherlands how to bike safely and how to drive safely around bicycles as well. Their safety record is not due to bike lanes, as bike lane ideologues will claim, but due to that education. Dutch cyclists are much safer even where there are no bike lanes at all, because of this education.

    What little education we get from bike-lane advocacy groups in the US is mostly miseducation, and telling people to stay far to the right is insane on roads that are not wide enough for big vehicles to safely squeeze by.

    However, Alex, I wouldn’t ride in the passenger’s door zone either. They are even less likely to look before opening the door.

  • Dan Sullivan

    We should not blame cyclists for riding far to the right; we should blame cycling advocacy groups for telling them to do that and for creating bike lanes that tell them to do that.

  • Dan Sullivan

    Riding on the sidewalk is mostly dangerous where there are no setbacks and people exiting buildings step directly onto the sidewalks. There are many places where riding on the sidewalk is safer and perfectly legal, so long as pedestrians are given priority.

  • Dan Sullivan

    People are much safer in the middle of the lane, but there is nothing wrong with pulling aside at empty spaces, fire-hydrant spaces or intersections to let traffic go by – especially if you are a slow cyclist or one who is easily intimidated.

    As for a better system, we had one before WWII, when the streets were full of both bicycles and cars, but that everyone understood that impatient drivers were the problem, not slower drivers or cyclists.

    Things became much worse in the ’50s because of PR campaigns claiming that slow drivers were endangering faster drivers. Bike-lane advocates and their campaigns of fear to justify dangerous bike lanes have made things even worse than that.

  • Dan Sullivan

    Your concerns might make sense on a 55 mph highway where people routinely go faster than that, but they do not make sense on ordinary roads with speed limits of 40 mph or less.

    The question is not whether taking the lane is absolutely safe, but whether it is safer than riding along the right-hand edge. Doing so is particularly dangerous alongside parked cars, but it is more dangerous generally. You can always pull over to let motorists pass, but they are far more likely to see you pulling over than to see you if you are already in the right lane

    Most accidents “from the rear” are actually sideswipes, meaning people passing too closely. They are not rear-end collisions. This has been studied, and motorists are more likely to “squeeze by,” meaning more likely to pass far to closely, if the cyclist is riding far to the right. If the cyclist is in the middle of the lane, they are more likely to slow down until they can get fully into the left lane, even if it is an oncoming lane, to pass safely. Also, if you are in the center of the lane, you can always veer to the right. If you are already to the right, you have no safe options if you see an obstacle in your path.

    Motorists are far more likely to notice you in the middle of the traffic lane than anywhere else, and are therefore far more likely to slow down. If you are afraid to deal with the world unless everyone else is “perfect,” you might as well seek a rubber room in which to live out your days.

  • Isaac B

    Sad. I ride through this neighborhood sometimes and have been repeatedly yelled at by drivers that the law requires me to be up against the car doors or on the sidewalk.

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A truck driver opened his door into the path of a 63-year-old cyclist this morning, sending him into traffic, where he was run over by another truck. Though the cyclist, who has yet to be identified, was conscious immediately following the collision, he was later pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital. Here is the wire report: […]