UPDATED: Another Cyclist Killed Along Brooklyn’s Deadly Third Avenue on Christmas Morning 

A notorious Sunset Park death trap claims the life of a 33-year-old man.

The Third Avenue intersection where nurse Clara Kang was killed on Oct. 3. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
The Third Avenue intersection where nurse Clara Kang was killed on Oct. 3. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Another cyclist is dead along Sunset Park’s notoriously dangerous Third Avenue, marking the 26th cyclist killed so far this year — the second bloodiest year for traffic violence during Mayor de Blasio’s seven years in office.

Police say 33-year-old Alejandro Santos “collided” with the back of a parked and unoccupied 2019 flatbed truck near 24th Street — right in front of a car dealership — just a little after midnight on Christmas morning, sending him to the roadway with internal injuries and injuries to his legs. Santos, who was riding an electric bicycle, died at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, about 30 blocks away.

Police could not say whether the truck was illegally parked at the time of the fatal crash, but the deadly stretch of Third Avenue between 18th Street and 54th Street, which sits below the elevated Gowanus Expressway, is an infamous death trap because of regularly double-parked cars, and car washes with vehicles jutting out. At night, it’s enshrouded in darkness because of the expressway above it.

“I don’t know if it was parked legally or not I don’t have that information,” an NYPD spokesperson told Streetsblog.

Third Avenue at 24th Street, where a car is illegally parked on the sidewalk. Photo: Google Maps
Third Avenue at 24th Street, where a car is illegally parked on the sidewalk. Photo: Google Maps

Santos is the second cyclist killed on Third Avenue this year — on Oct. 3, 31-year-old Clara Kang was killed near 55th Street by a motorcyclist after finishing her nursing shift at the same hospital.

For years, locals and safe-street advocates have been demanding safer infrastructure for Third Avenue, including for things as basic as more lights.

“Put some lights under there, get rid of some of the cars, maybe put a busway, fix it. Make sure it’s not dangerous. I want to see our neighborhood get better safer, stronger,” said Sunset Park resident and transit advocate Jorge Muñiz-Reyes during a vigil for Kang back in October.

Last year, four people were killed along Third Avenue — last December, a truck driver killed 85-year-old Brendan Gill near 39th Street; in July, the driver of a tractor-trailer fatally ran over 30-year-old Em Samolewicz after she was doored into traffic near 35th Street; and in January, drivers killed 27-year-old Fernando Trejo near 52nd Street, and 26-year-old Hugo Garcia near 28th Street.

“In the months since a driver killed nurse Clara Kang on Third Avenue after her hospital shift, Mayor de Blasio has not made the street safer,” Danny Harris, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement. “In the year since drivers killed four New Yorkers on Third Avenue, Mayor de Blasio has not made the street safer.   Just yesterday, Mayor de Blasio said that we need a ‘call to arms’ to rapidly expand Vision Zero. But we can’t wait. The city should have made this and other dangerous streets safer months ago. We need action and not words from Mayor de Blasio to stop the carnage on our streets now.

“Mayor de Blasio has one year left to fulfill the promises he made when he launched Vision Zero at the start of his administration,” Harris continued. “He has one year left to turn back the tide of rising traffic violence. He can start by restoring funding to Vision Zero and other life saving programs like the Green Wave Plan, Dangerous Vehicle Abatement Program, and Streets Master Plan.”

The lack of safety infrastructure prompted the area’s state senator, Zellnor Myrie, to complain in November that the unsafe conditions “constitute part of a pattern.”

“The city has neglected Sunset Park and its lower-income communities of color for far too long — as has been pointed out by community advocates such as UPROSE,” Myrie wrote in a Streetsblog op-ed, noting that the area’s congressional representative, Nydia Velazquez, had secured federal funds more than a decade ago for road-safety improvements, including bike lanes, but the Department of Transportation only started on the project recently.

This post has been updated to reflect Danny Harris’s statement and the correct number of cyclist fatalities.

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