The senior e-bike rider who was mowed down by a private sanitation truck driver earlier this month has died, becoming the 23rd cyclist killed this year — and cops are blaming the victim.
Police say 62-year-old MD Abul Bashar, a delivery cyclist who worked for a nearby restaurant, died from injuries on Sept. 18 — 10 days after a 32-year-old driving a huge Mack dump truck owned by the private carting firm Lomangino Brothers, plowed into Bashar, who was riding his electric bicycle on Third Avenue near 12th Street at about 9:30 pm.
Cops on Tuesday said they are still investigating, but are already pointing fingers at Bashar, claiming he was riding northbound on the sidewalk along the east side of Third Avenue when he maneuvered to “exit the sidewalk and enter the crosswalk area” as the truck made a left turn from southbound Third Avenue onto 12th street “with the traffic signal in its favor.”
Police said the massive big rig’s bumper knocked Bashar off his bike, sending him into the roadway with critical head injuries. The driver remained at the scene and police made no arrests or issued any summonses at that time — or since.
But police could not immediately answer any questions about whether the driver, an off-duty firefighter who the Daily News identified as Robert Blankenship, was speeding or not paying attention to the road in front of him — a likely scenario given that Bashar was in the crosswalk directly in front of the driver.
Bashar is now the 23rd cyclist [see note below] to die on the streets of New York City. And Bashar is also at least the fourth person killed by a private sanitation truck this year — renewing advocates' calls to regulate the city’s private carting industry.
In May, a motorcycle rider was killed and another was injured after a private sanitation truck backed into them as its driver tried to enter a one-way street in Jamaica the wrong way, and earlier this month, an off-duty NYPD inspector was killed on his motorcycle after the driver of a private dump truck crashed into him in the Bronx.
And on Saturday, a private carter killed 14-year-old Mario Valenzuela as he was riding his bike on Borden Avenue in Long Island City. In that case, cops say, the truck driver hit Valenzuela as the driver turned right onto 11th Street. Truck drivers often veer left before turning right, so it is unclear if his intention to turn right was clear to Valenzuela.
The last three crashes highlight a pattern of unsafe practices in the industry, whose drivers have killed at least two dozen people since 2016, according to Brooklyn Council Member Antonio Reynoso, who is sponsoring a spate of legislation to regulate the trucks by shortening routes, giving workers protections, and requiring safety features.
“This is not the first or last time that the industry’s wild-west practices have harmed a road user, but we can make sure that it’s a thing of the past,” Reynoso told Streetsblog after the Sept. 8 collision. “As New Yorkers know all too well, it is not uncommon to see a private sanitation truck tear down a city street or flout the rules of the road, often done in an attempt to finish an excessively long route. It is time to regulate the private sanitation industry through a commercial-waste-zones system for the safety of streets, dignity of workers, and health of our environment.”
Editor's note: The Department of Transportation says that 22 cyclists, not 23, have been killed this year because the agency is not counting the death of 47-year-old Robert Donald as a cyclist fatality. As a point of fact: Donald was riding his bike away from an apparent dispute with 41-year-old Korey Johnson on Sept. 2, but Johnson gave chase in his SUV, driving the wrong way down Marcus Garvey Boulevard in Bushwick and killing Donald — a death that might have been avoided if roadways were designed to prevent excessive speed. Because the NYPD has ruled the case a homicide, Donald's death will not be included in official counts of cyclist deaths, a spokesperson for the DOT said.