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.

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