Exclusive: Actually, It’s FOURTEEN Dead Cyclists So Far This Year

How the Daily News covered the initial crash.
How the Daily News covered the initial crash.
Victor Ang.
Victor Ang

A Citi Bike rider who was hit and severely injured back in April has died, Streetsblog has learned, bringing the total of cyclists killed in the city this year to 14 — already four more than all of last year.

New Jersey resident and real estate broker Victor Ang was cycling southbound on 11th Avenue near the then-just-opened Hudson Yards complex on April 27 at around 6:40 p.m. when he was struck by a UPS semi-truck, police said. The driver stayed on the scene, and Ang was taken to Bellevue Hospital with bleeding from injuries that were listed as severe, but not believed to be life-threatening, according to the Daily News, which reported on the initial crash.

But Ang, 74, died of his injuries on June 4, his daughter Charlene said.

“He was a clever man, a MacGyver, nothing was insurmountable,” his family said in a statement. “He lit up every room he was in, and was known for his good sense of humor, his jokes, and laughter. He showed kindness to everyone around him.”

There were no charges filed against the driver at the time. And NYPD spokesman said there were still no charges as of Thursday.

The news of Ang’s death comes as city cyclists are reeling from Monday’s killing of Robyn Hightman and Thursday night’s death of cyclist Ernest Askew in Brownsville, who were the 12th and 13th riders killed this year. Even before learning of Ang’s death, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said she mourned all the victims.

“We’re not having a good year, we know that,” she said, specifically mentioning Hightman. “We’ve had too many fatalities this year.”

Ang was hit at the same intersection where cyclist Josef Mittlemann was killed in late 2017, meaning there will soon be two ghost bikes at the same location. The Post claimed Mittlemann, a well-known professor and real estate developer, ran a red light, but cited no direct evidence.

The 14 dead cyclists represent a major increase over last year. But other categories are also up. Overall fatalities are up 17 percent so far this year, versus them same period last year, with 97 total deaths. Fifty pedestrians have been killed, up from 46 at the same time last year.

And those numbers don’t include the death of pedestrian Paul Chipkin, 74, who was run over on Ralph Avenue in Brooklyn late on Thursday night, police said. Details are sketchy, but cops said Chipkin was standing in the middle of Ralph Avenue south of Sterling Place when the 38-year-old female driver hit him. She remained on the scene and was not charged.

  • Zero Vision

    Trotterberg should either do something big or resign in protest if the mayor won’t let her.

  • Seymour Butz

    until either the mayor or police chief’s family is personally affected while on a bike nothing will ever be done to punish a driver

  • AMH

    This is awful and it just keeps getting worse.

  • Joe R.

    Part of Vision Zero seems to be zero cyclists. The goal is to either kill all of them off, make them too afraid to ride, or ticket them so mercilessly that they give up riding in disgust.

  • Guy Ross

    That Prolly Nottenberg only sees cyclists as a square in a spreadsheet labeled ‘Cyclist Fatalities’ that becomes a bother if it gets ‘too high’ is maddening.

    Your time is up. Resign.

  • This suggestion that Trottenberg is some sort of independent actor has simply got to stop.

    Among mayoral appointees, the police commissioner is the only one who gets to dictate policy to the mayor, on account of the police department functioning like a military junta. Other appointees — including the DOT commissioner — can do or say nothing that is not approved by their boss.

    Therefore, all blame for any of DOT’s faults rests with the mayor.

  • Guy Ross

    If you are unable to effectively fulfill your mandate, especially as an appointed public official, it is best to resign and do so very publicly. It is not as if her options are falling in line or the breadline. She’s had a good run, accomplished absolutely zero… time to go.

  • So you want Trottenberg to essentially end her career as a means of calling attention to de Blasio’s incompetence. This is unreasonable.

    Furthermore, it’s not as though Trottenberg is some kind of charismatic figure whose resignation as DOT commissioner would cause a scandal that would shame de Blasio into action. If she were to resign, she’d just disappear from the news. De Blasio would then appoint a docile nonentity as the new DOT commissioner, and even less would get done.

    Calling for Trottenberg to resign makes absolutely no sense from any angle. Better that she not break de Blasio’s trust, and that she continue to do what she can do to push him in the right direction. If her suasion ultimately has little effect, then the fault for that will be entirely de Blasio’s.

  • Guy Ross

    End her career? Like she would be unemployable after this? Unlikely…

    “DOT commish resigns, says mayor makes her mission impossible”.

    Doubt this headline would have no effect.

    What accomplishments, leadership, or otherwise can you cite as making her tenure worth the wait for better days?

  • Whatever progress we have seen on Queens Boulevard (a project conceived by the genius Sadik-Khan and bequeathed to future administrations) is likely due to Trottenberg’s insistence. Her influence met its match when de Blasio decided to trade the final portion of this bike lane for something else; this demonstrates the limits of the power of any appointee (again: apart from the police commissioner).

    We were amazingly lucky that Bloomberg brought in Sadik-Khan, and that he encouraged this visionary to do her thing. But we should not let this unique confluence of events make us imagine that every appointee can be as powerful as Sadik-Khan, who is a globally-recognised expert in safe streets. Moreover, de Blasio is no Bloomberg; without a mayor as committed to improving our streets as Bloomberg was, even the mighty Sadik-Khan could have accomplished nothing.

    The point is that Trottenberg should not be asked to sacrifice her career in government in order to pay for de Blasio’s lack of interest in safe streets. Her resignation would punish her, not the mayor; more important, it would gain the public nothing.

  • Joe R.

    Just a minor point regarding here “career”. First of all, she’s making $226,366 as DOT commissioner: https://expo.silive.com/erry-2018/05/772f753f017548/see_what_some_of_the_highest_s.html

    She’s been in that position since the beginning of 2014. That’s 5.5 years, which means she’s earned roughly $1.2 million. Prior to that she served as Under Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation. No idea what the salary is there, but it’s likely well into the 6 figures as well. I’m sure she worked at lower salaries prior to this. All told, I’d say she easily made $3 million thus far. Even if this was only $2 million after taxes, if she managed her money properly she should be able to retire easily if she were to resign in protest, even if that made her unemployable.

    Also, she’s 55 years old, a year younger than me. That’s a good age to retire. I involuntarily retired last year due to the need to take care of my mother. While in theory I could work again after she dies, she’s in fairly good health, and has a decent shot making it into her 90s (she’s 80 now). That would put me well into me 60s when she’s gone. I have no desire to work or look for work at that age. In truth, even if I didn’t take care of my mother, my goal was to find another decent consulting gig paying ~$100K annually, work until I’m 60, then call it quits. It wouldn’t be a terrible thing for Trottenberg even if her resignation meant she couldn’t find work again. I don’t doubt she could write a book on her experiences with deBlasio and make quite a bit of money on that. She probably could also make some money in speaking fees, although not anywhere near what JSK could make.

  • r

    She’d wind up as a high-paid private consultant. Shed no tears for her.

  • Knut Torkelson

    Watching her publicly say DOT doesn’t need any more money was one of the most disheartening things I’ve seen from a public official I somewhat liked. She has a huge platform to advocate for radical change in how this city moves and it’s completely squandered with her piecemeal incrementalism. People are dying and we’re destroying the planet- building a few extra bike lanes isn’t gonna fit it. Her inaction and inability to use her position to realign the priorities of DOT means she has blood on her hands.

  • William Lawson

    RIght? Sooner or later some top brass or family of top brass is going to get killed by a truck and we’re finally going to see what the NYC wheels of justice are capable of when they’re motivated to treat vehicular deaths like the crimes they are. All of a sudden their perpetual insistence that their “hands are tied” will be put on hold as we see what happens when an *important* (to them) person dies.

  • qrt145

    I think the case of Marilyn Dershowitz a few years ago showed that even when the victim is related to someone influential who manages to drag the DA into prosecuting, there is no guarantee of a conviction, because jurors can still buy the “didn’t know I hit someone; it was just an accident!” defense: https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2012/09/20/driver-cleared-by-manhattan-jury-in-hit-and-run-death-of-marilyn-dershowitz/

  • Larry Littlefield

    I think we need to think about just how many of these deaths have been at the hands of large trucks. And what can be done.

    We can imagine a utopia with no private motor vehicles that weight more than their riders, perhaps. But most deliveries are still going to have to be made by truck.

    Truck drivers already have to have additional training for higher license. I wonder how much of that training concerns avoiding pedestrians and cyclists in a place like NYC?

    I get the feeling that if they want to avoid these sorts of tragedies, large vehicles should never overtake cyclists unless they have a whole additional lane, and never on a one-lane street.

  • Patrick Schnell

    Well said!

  • Joe R.

    One thing which can be done is to require cabovers for any truck operating on NYC streets. Conventional trucks would only be allowed on expressways, and not allowed to get off at any exit within city limits. Cabovers are inherently safer but it seems truck drivers in the US are more concerned with macho image than with safety. In the EU I think pretty much all trucks are cabovers. It might even be a requirement there.

  • relevantjeff

    And it works. I’d love almost nothing more than to rent a CitiBike and take it for a spin the next time I visit NYC. Why won’t I? The chances of either getting run over by a truck – and being blamed for it – or getting caught up in a ticketing blitz because someone else had just gotten run over by a truck are too damn high.

  • qrt145

    Relax, the odds are still pretty low. Over a year ago Citi Bike celebrated 60 million trips: https://www.motivateco.com/new-milestone-citi-bike-reaches-60-million-rides-since-launch/ I don’t have the latest stats right now but I guess it’s close to 80 million now. So far, there have been two fatal crashes, which means you have a risk of 1 in 40 million. I think the odds of dying in a car trip are worse than that.

    Ticket blitzes are more likely, but you can greatly reduce the risk of getting a ticket by not running red lights. You can even get most of that reduction by simply not running red lights in front of cops. Anecdotally, I’ve gotten one ticket in 10 years of commuting. I think the odds that you’ll get a ticket as a visitor are fairly low.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I’m not sure what that is, but anything that helps.

    I also think dedicating certain streets (and that segment of the BQE) to large vehicles such as trucks and buses, and encouraging cyclists to avoid them unless there are PBLs, might help.

    Of course based on “the environment” we can’t even do that for buses on 14th Street.

  • I can understand the disappointment with Trottenberg’s statement.

    But I dispute the assertions that she has a “huge platform” and that she can “use her position to realight the priorities of DOT”.

    We should understand that Sadik-Khan’s power to make sweeping changes came less from her appointed position than from the strong backing on the part of Bloomberg. But Trottenberg has been given no such mandate from the current mayor.

    Trottenberg has done as well as anyone could have done given the constraints under which she is working.

  • Would she? I doubt it. Trottenberg is just a functionary, not a visionary. Nobody’s going to pay her to consult.

  • You have demonstrated that Trottenberg probably wouldn’t be poor if she stopped working.

    Still, that doesn’t mean that she has the obligation to blow up whatever remains of her career in protest over de Blasio’s lack of dedication to safe streets.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Cabover is where the engine is below the driver so they have a direct view of the road out of the front window. You do see these trucks in the US but they’re kinda rare vs ubiquitous in Europe. Here’s an example of a really nice version that meets the “Direct Vision” standard required in London: (the trailer would also have side guards to keep people walking/cycling from ending up underneath the rear wheels in a crash)

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ed57c17f82985b9574bd8b181eea41d8553320a7ee14b0b8df9be93b2d26dcc2.jpg

  • Joe R.

    I always thought that statement had a second, less obvious meaning. She may have been thoroughly disgusted at her inability to move big projects forward between her boss, and the Community Boards. So she may have really meant more money would be pointless, since the city had no interest in doing the big projects which would amount to radical charge. Of course, she couldn’t just come out and say that without putting her position in jeopardy. This may have been her way of rebelling. If true though, it was so subtle few people would have been able to pick up on it.

  • Joe R.

    Don’t forget it wasn’t just the Mayor who held her back. The Community Boards have at times been intractable, to the point if I was in her position I’m sure I would have let loose with a tirade of profanities which would make a whore blush at some of the CB meetings. If anything, I commend her for her restraint.

  • Ishamgirl

    Odd how there’s little outrage over innocent NYers being shot, and some killed, on our streets.

    11 year old kid shot in Brooklyn last week is now paralyzed. Zero outrage over that.

    Pick and choose your battles.

  • qrt145

    But what about whataboutism?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Ghost Bikes Memorial Ride Marks Another Year of Loss

|
Grief, solidarity and resolve brought out two hundred New York cyclists yesterday for the third annual Ghost Bikes Memorial Ride, to commemorate cyclists killed by motor vehicle drivers last year. At the Canal Street & Bowery triangle by the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge bike path, Steve Hindy raised his empty arms in a pantomime […]

Inebriated Columnist Issues Fatwa Against Kamikaze Jerks

|
Last week, columnist Steve Dunleavy used his 400-word rant-space in the New York Post to urge the city’s cab riders and motorists to throw open their car doors in front of "pedal punks" riding their "maiming machines," and, "take back the streets" from bike-commuting "kamikaze jerks."  City cyclists, already feeling vulnerable after a month of […]