Thursday’s Headlines: Another Cyclist is Dead Edition
All we want for Christmas is safe streets.
Late on Wednesday, a cyclist heading to work at a food truck was killed by an MTA bus driver late in Williamsburg — the 25th cyclist killed so far this year. Adrian Delosantos, 33, was at Metropolitan and Graham avenues when the bus driver hit him, the Daily News reported. (The Post had fewer details.)
The 8:30 p.m. crash left Delosantos conscious but badly injured. He died later at Bellevue Hospital. Police did not release any preliminary information, but a Streetsblog correspondent sent pictures of the aftermath and described himself as horrified.
“As an avid bicyclist, it has become and felt incredibly dangerous for cyclists since April/May,” our witness told us via email (requesting anonymity). “I really don’t know how to explain, but it feels so much more dangerous out there this year. It’s just so fucking sad that those of us who ride bicycles roll the dice with our lives every time we pedal around this city and the current administration doesn’t mind that it’s become more dangerous on our streets.”
Besides that, it was such a slow news day that amNY led with a cookie fundraiser for an animal shelter for much of the evening. But there was some news:
- Another regular cyclist looks like he’ll jump into the mayoral race (sorry, Carlos Menchaca). (amNY)
- Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow defended transit in the Atlantic.
- Also, when you see that yellow logo on the top of stories this month, remember that it’s our annual donation drive. And when people give, we like to celebrate them, so here’s our honor roll from yesterday: Thanks, Oliver E.! Thanks, Andrew G.! Thanks, Arkadiusz M.! Thanks, Hindy S.! Thanks, Michael L.!
- OK, we suppose it was a slow news day, so we’ll end with our exchange with the mayor from Wednesday’s press conference. We present the conversation (unedited, except for footnotes) to suggest that the mayor really isn’t aware of what the city streets are like for cyclists.
Streetsblog: Hello, Mr. Mayor, how are you?
Mayor: I’m doing good Gersh. Very happy holidays. I hope there’s sourdough cookies and sourdough cakes for everyone. [This is a reference to that time when our old man editor was really into baking bread and even delivered a loaf to Hizzonr.]
Question: Yes. I would be very remiss if I did not wish you and your family a merry Christmas. Felice Navidad, próspero año.
Mayor: Very good. Gersh, you’ve got range.
Question: Yes, I’ll do it in Russian in a second [our editor does speak some Russian]. Anyway, no one wants to circle back on the storm because all the snow melted, but we have some lingering questions about the response [This is a reference to our recent post-mortem on the Sanitation Department’s failure to clean bike lanes of snow]. Now, the city under your leadership has taken great pains to build scores of miles of protected bike lanes. But advocates say that cyclists, whether they’re working cyclists or people who choose to get around on two wheels for environmental or financial reasons, were endangered by a city policy — and it is city policy, according to the Sanitation Department’s snow emergency plans — that mandate that all car lanes are plowed before bike lanes and pedestrian crossings are swept. So why are car lanes cleared first, which only encourages driving during the most dangerous times in a Vision Zero city?
Mayor: Okay. Gersh, you know, you and I have spirited conversations. But I always appreciate your questions [editor’s note: sometimes we are not sure of that]. They’re very thoughtful questions. I know they come from the heart. But this one I’m going to put in perspective. We are a Vision Zero city, and we need to be more of a Vision Zero city. And I’ll again reference the election next year. I hope Vision Zero is front and center into the discussion about the future of the city. And I think every New Yorker should demand of every candidate for mayor that they support Vision Zero and will add to Vision Zero going forward.
So, we are a Vision Zero city, but we also recognize when you clear the roads, you are clearing the way for emergency vehicles, you are clearing the way for food deliveries. There’s so many things, people have to get to the hospital. There’s so many things that we do when we clear the roads. I want to see a city that is less and less dependent on the automobile going forward and more and more about mass transit. But remember our buses go on those roads, too. So I think that rationale is clear, but I take to heart your bigger point that we need to keep the bike lanes clear. And in fact, one of the things Department of Sanitation has done, which is different from the past is they have I think it’s about 100 pieces of specialized equipment to specifically work to clear bike lanes [this was also reported in our story, but the mayor is wrong about what this equipment does, as our story had revealed]. It is now a priority to clear bike lanes. We had a decent amount of snow here, so it takes a few days. And they’re supposed to be picking up the trash in between. So there’s a lot they have to juggle, but there’s no question, the policy in New York City is clear those bike lanes as quickly as possible. Use the new equipment we’ve got. If we need to do that better. And we need to learn from this experience, how to go faster with that? I embrace that 100 percent, but absolutely there’s a commitment to clearing bike lanes so bicyclists can get back on the road. Go ahead.
Question: Yeah, you kind of walked right into the follow up in the sense that you mentioned these narrow machines and snow removal equipment that the Department of Sanitation has. The agency in fact told me that they have 100 machines, as you said, but not a single one of those was bought since the 2014 winter season. Since that time you’ve built scores of miles of protected bike lanes, but actually not given that agency, a new generation of narrow equipment to actually do the work you’re talking about. So that’s a resource question, mayor, and that falls on your desk.
Mayor: Gersh, I’m very comfortable with the question. So, first of all, they have the equipment. It’s not a matter of when it was bought. The question is, do they have it and are they able to get the job done? Again, what they do have, I would be the first to say is, there is a certain number of personnel. There is a certain amount of equipment and job one is to get the city moving for all the reasons I stated before. So, some of this may just be that they have to prioritize the first piece before they can get to the second piece. If there’s anything about that equipment that doesn’t allow them to clear the bike lanes, I absolutely want to know about that. And we will address that in the upcoming budget. But if it’s simply equipment that was bought in the past and they’re able to use it effectively now? Great, let’s get out there and use it and use it as quickly as possible. So, I will happily follow up because I want the bike lanes cleared.