Thursday’s Headlines: Death of a Teen Cyclist Edition

The moment before a truck driver killed teenaged cyclist Mario Valenzuela.
The moment before a truck driver killed teenaged cyclist Mario Valenzuela.

On a day that the city was preoccupied with who may have won the mayoral primary, we were most intrigued by a story in Bicycling magazine: Peter Flax’s must read on the NYPD’s execrable handling of the 2019 death of 14-year-old cyclist Mario Valenzuela, who was crushed by a Mack truck on Borden Avenue in Astoria.

It’s a  story that Streetsblog pioneered, but which the magazine renders in heartbreaking, cinematic detail: from the fact that cops wouldn’t charge the driver for failing to yield to a cyclist who was riding lawfully; to the disgusting victim-blaming by police and a judge, despite video evidence showing the cyclists was not at fault; to Assembly Member Cathy Nolan’s outrageous remark that the street was no place for cyclists; to the demand that crash investigations be transferred from the NYPD to the DOT, to the recommendation that dangerous Borden Avenue (the site of an earlier fatal bike crash) desperately needs a redesign and protected bike lane.

“This is unbelievable,” the victim’s mother, Martha Valenzuela, told Flax. “The driver should go to jail. He killed my son — how come he’s not going to jail?”

It’s a question no mother should have to ask.

In other news:

  • Having trouble getting around town on transit? The big morning subway bollix started on the Upper West Side (NYDN, NYPost) but expect more delays systemically because of crew shortages. (Gothamist) Not to mention, if you’re disabled, you’re really out of luck. (TheCity)
  • No more filthy lucre: The MTA, whose stopped its clerks from handing money last March because of the pandemic, will no longer accept cash or swap damaged MetroCards. (NYDN)
  • Mansion tax to the rescue: The MTA can survive without funds from congestion pricing for now — thanks to all our pricey real estate. (amNY)
  • Bloomberg CityLab looks at questions about the accessibility of open dining.
  • Where public relations meets mental health: The NYPD will teach de-escalation techniques. (amNY)
  • StreetsPAC’s pick for Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, looks like the winner. (Politico, among others)
  • The DOT wants to do something in Sunset Park that would make people safer, but it would remove parking spaces? It MUST suck! Or, at least, that’s the line from CBS2, covering a street redesign project as if it were 2003.
  • From the assignment desk: The DOT will co-name Seventh Avenue between 11th and 12th streets after the late, legendary Pete Hamill in a ceremony today at 2 p.m.
  • In other DOT news, the department will publish the Streets Master Plan in December and has launched a site to gather feedback. Also a revamped page for bikes. (Via Twitter)

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A witness believes the driver who severely injured a 20-year-old cyclist Wednesday night in Park Slope T-boned the victim as he rode across Sixth Avenue in the Ninth Street bike lane with the right of way — contrary to NYPD’s claim that the victim was hit head-on while biking against traffic on Sixth Avenue. The crash happened at around 9 p.m. NYPD said […]