Teen Cyclist Killed by Uncharged Truck Driver — 22nd Biker Death this Year
A teenage cyclist was run down and killed by a truck driver on a Long Island City street long known to city officials as dangerous — in a neighborhood teaming with young families and a brand new library built partly to draw youngsters.
Mario Valenzuela, 14, was killed on Borden Avenue at around 2 p.m. on Saturday — the 22nd cyclist to die this year, up from 10 in all of 2018.
According to police, Valenzuela was cycling eastbound on Borden “alongside a truck” when the 33-year-old driver slammed his Mack truck into him as he turned right onto 11th Street. The New York Post’s lead photo revealed the graphic carnage.
The truck driver remained on the scene and was not charged. In a statement, Transportation Alternatives’ Deputy Director Ellen McDermott called the crash a “blatant criminal violation of the Right of Way law.”
“Large trucks have caused more than half of the cyclist deaths this year,” she continued. “Once again we ask Mayor de Blasio: go to the scene of the crash. console Mario’s family and take the steps urgently needed to prevent others from suffering as they do right now. Treat the death and suffering like the unacceptable crisis it is.”
The driver, whose name was not immediately released by cops, worked for a private sanitation company called Limited Interior Group. Drivers in that industry are notorious for high kill rates, but the de Blasio administration is resisting a Council effort to rein in the rogue industry.
This is devastating! It's inexcusable that a neighborhood now filled w families w kids–and a library designed to attract teens opening this week–has a city hall that cares so little about young people on bikes. Zero bike infra & zero signage of safe routes in that area.
— Radlerkönigin (@radlerkoenigin) September 21, 2019
Valenzuela was killed just a few blocks from where cyclist Robert Spencer was run down, also on Borden Avenue, in March. The driver was not charged in that killing, either. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who attended a vigil for Spencer, and reiterated his call for the Department of Transportation to do more.
I contacted @NYC_DOT before Robert Spencer was killed in March & then again after to plead for action. Now a 14 year old boy is dead. When will @NYC_DOT start treating this like the emergency it is? The 21st cyclist killed this year & the 2nd in LIC— this demands radical action! https://t.co/MjGEGCvTa0
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) September 21, 2019
Valenzuela’s death comes as the formerly industrial zone under the Pulaski Bridge is becoming far more populated by families. And the city just cut the ribbon on a $40-million teen-centered library just eight blocks from the scene of Saturday’s crash.
Borden Avenue is particularly dangerous because it remains a truck route and also features an entrance to the Long Island Expressway. Since January, 2018, there have been 92 reported crashes, resulting in the death of one cyclist and injuries to 22 people, mostly motorists.
1?? Jan ‘19: Locals ask for safety improvements including a protected bike lane on Borden Ave – DOT no response
2?? Mar ‘19: Local resident Robert Spencer killed – DOT no major changes
3?? Today: Another person killedhttps://t.co/qZqZCiKojc @mayakauf #bikeNYC pic.twitter.com/JI1PFPI8Mv
— Walking LIC (@LICwalkers) September 21, 2019