UPDATE: Brooklyn Cyclist Killed by Driver — 13th Death in a Bloody Year

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

A 57-year-old cyclist was killed in deadly Brownsville on Thursday night after being struck by the teenage driver.

Cops said Ernest Askew was riding westbound on Sutter Avenue at around 9 p.m. when the driver of a white Hyundai, traveling north on Chester Street, struck him. Both men were taken to Brookdale Hospital, where Askew died and the driver was treated for what cops called “a hand injury.”

Askew is the 13th killed so far this year. In all of 2018, 10 cyclists were killed.

The 18-year-old driver was not arrested, but the NYPD said “the investigation is ongoing.”

These are the non-injury causing crashes in Brownsville in just one year.
These are the non-injury causing crashes in Brownsville in just one year.

Redesigned streets are virtually non-existent in Brownsville, where wide roadways and speeding cars are common. In Brownsville alone last year, 38 cyclists, 130 pedestrians and 528 motorists were in injured in 1,820 crashes — roughly five per day in that small area. Three motorists were killed.

The 13th cyclist death came three days after Robyn Hightman was killed on Sixth Avenue on Monday. A memorial ride for Hightman was Thursday — just a few hours before the latest death.

After initial publication of this story, Transportation Alternatives issued this statement from Interim Co-Executive Director Marco Conner:

Last night, Ernest Askew, a 57-year-old cyclist, was killed by a driver in East New York, Brooklyn. … The number of cyclists killed in 2019 had already surpassed the number killed in the entirety of the prior year on May 14, when cyclist Kenichi Nakagawa succumbed to injuries sustained three days earlier when he was struck by a driver in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Today, just over a month later, the death toll stands four above all of last year. Vision Zero is in a state of emergency, and the mayor is absent.

The City of New York is fully aware of how to protect cyclists like Ernest Askew; protected bike lanes are statistically proven to reduce these crashes. But frankly, the lack of protected bike lanes in East New York sends the message that our Mayor is not willing to invest equally in already disenfranchised neighborhoods of color. Wealthy, predominantly white neighborhoods not only have more bike lanes, but more of the safe protected bike lanes we know save lives. This modern inequity sits atop historically unequal investment in infrastructure in black neighborhoods, making streets in East New York doubly unsafe.

In the coming weeks, Mayor de Blasio must develop a comprehensive plan to rescue Vision Zero, including a revision to existing plans in recognition of the rising tide of cyclist fatalities. He must adopt the City Council’s plan for a connected network of protected bike lanes, building out 50-100 miles per year, and ensure aggressive investment in neighborhoods of color. All future protected bike lane installation should provide safe passage for cyclists where it is most needed and seek to correct these long standing racial inequities.

  • Joe R.

    Well, let’s see if the NYPD at least stops ticketing cyclists after one is killed.

    I wonder how many of these cyclist deaths have involved either a truck or an SUV? That might point to one of the causes, namely that vehicles are getting larger and more deadly.

  • Knut Torkelson

    Looks like the driver had a stop sign coming from Chester, where the cyclist on Sutter has the right of way. The experience of crossing the street when a driver has a stop sign in BK and Queens is often harrowing- drivers often come barreling in, briefly slowly down then re-accelerate.

    Would love to see DOT redesign streets with some physical barriers, bulbouts, etc to reduce behavior like this. Also- SUNLIGHT EVERY INTERSECTION.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Looks like there’s a traffic signal there. I agree totally about the high speeds and lack of daylighting/bumpouts/etc at the corners.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2ad37d4a0c5b954f16b1a248fe020768a4a5b247cec980e7c9c5e18ac0297b9a.png

  • Zero Vision

    No statement from Polly Trottenberg or Bill de Blasio on this bloody week, huh?

  • dave “paco” abraham

    Ten years ago I was in a hit & run on this same street. The streets in that area have zero infrastructure beyond paint. It’s pathetic.

  • PDiddy

    13 deaths and we’re barely half way through the year. NY DOT. Get your s*** together, extreme redesigns of all streets need to be implemented and you need to stop letting neighborhood meetings tie your hands.

  • AMH

    I suppose you can count “we’re not going to stop enforcement against cyclists–we’ll keep enforcing against whatever we THINK is dangerous.”

  • Knut Torkelson

    Not only are we halfway through the year- we’re only a week into Summer. We’ve seen 13 deaths through the slowest cycling season.

  • Knut Torkelson

    Good point. I must have looked at the wrong street in Google Maps.

  • Joe R.

    I prefer the streets with stop signs. The cars may only briefly slow down, but that just means you wait until they pass before crossing. On the streets with the traffic lights, the cars don’t slow down at all, which means I need to look for gaps and traffic and run through them to get across. And no, I’m not going to stand on the corner waiting for a walk signal. The light cycles here are often very long, which could mean waiting a minute or more, plus the turning cars when you have a walk signal are no picnic.

    I know they’re not well liked around Streetsblog, but I really wish the city would put pedestrian bridges across wide main arteries. You can still keep the signalized level crossings for those who don’t feel like climbing up, but at least the bridge gives you an option to safely cross without dodging cars or waiting for long light cycles.

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  • I looked closely at the intersection where Mr Askew was killed on Google Streetview. The intersection has a traffic signal. In not one account of this accident does anyone say what color the traffic light was for which street.

    According to the Brooklyner, Mr Askew was riding westbound on Sutter, which is a two-way street, while the teenage driver was driving north on Chester, which is a one-way street. The accident occurred at 9:00 PM. It was dark when the accident occurred.

    Looking north on Chester the building on the southeast corner has a very tall white opaque enclosure around its yard that makes it impossible for northbound drivers to see anything coming westbound on Chester until the last second.

    In Google’s shot from a year ago there is a Honda SUV parked on the corner that also partially obstructs any northbound driver’s view of westbound traffic or cyclists. Who knows whether another tall vehicle parked there might have partially obstructed the view of northbound drivers.

    I am afraid that whether or not there was an attached or detached bike lane on Sutter was not the cause of Mr Askew’s death.

    The kid wasn’t arrested or charged. The fact that the kid wasn’t arrested or charged almost-certainly means that Mr Askew ran the red light and got t-boned by the teen driver, who had a green light.

    It is a tragedy but bike lanes or a lack of them on Sutton didn’t cause this accident. That estimated 10-foot high opaque white enclosure around the yard of the home on the southeast corner obstructed any chance any northbound driver might have had of seeing westbound traffic and/or a westbound bicyclist in-time to brake or avoid them if they run the red light westbound.

    A speed of 25 mph is 37 feet per-second, and let’s figure just 2.5 seconds for total recognition and reaction time plus braking distance. That is 90 feet. Is there that much visibility of westbound traffic from the view of a northbound driver? No there is not. That tall white fence obstructs the view of northbound drivers entering the intersection.

    In my professional opinion that white fence should not have been approved that tall as it is a safety hazard. Maybe 5 feet tall but most-certainly not 10-feet at that location.

    Photo c/o Google Earth Streetview was taken northbound on Chester in 2018.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/00de0e52ac613836f2887f7478b045ff758b4481dc583b1acad5bf14517707dd.png

  • Here is the westbound Streetview shot on Sutter from about 40 feet from the crosswalk, maybe 55 feet from the intersection. How much visibility is there of northbound traffic on Chester from this viewpoint approximately 9 feet high? Absolutely none.

    That tall opaque white wall on the southeast corner is half the problem here. Somebody ran a red light and the teen driver wasn’t charged or arrested. Very limited visibility of cross traffic was half the problem. This accident is a good example of why not to run red lights.

    Photo c/o Google Earth Streetview, June, 2018.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/be67483667f9314c3966cb23619e1147dd4db77558009976cf8e091d6c16ae4e.png

  • Finally the facts come out.

    [Quote] The cyclist, Ernest Askew, was riding his bike west on Sutter Avenue toward the intersection of Chester Street around 9 p.m. Thursday when he “disobeyed a steady red traffic signal,” according to a spokesperson for the NYPD.

    A white 2018 Hyundai was heading north on Chester Street with a green light and hit Askew, who smashed into the windshield and suffered severe injuries to his head, cops said.

    The driver stayed on the scene and was not arrested. Askew was taken to Brookdale Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. [End quote]

    Brooklyn Eagle, June 28th, 2019:

    https://brooklyneagle.com/articles/2019/06/28/a-10th-cyclist-is-killed-in-brooklyn/

  • Speaking of roadway width in this case, Sutter is 40 feet curb to curb and Chester is only 30 feet curb to curb. On both streets parking is allowed on both sides of the street. Actually these two roads are pretty narrow. You could install partial rollover bump-outs but these roads are pretty narrow. Maybe on Sutter only.

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