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Cyclist Killed By Unlicensed Truck Driver in Queens: Cops

1:09 PM EDT on November 4, 2021

The crash scene. Cops say the truck driver was turning right at this intersection. Photo: Google

Another cyclist has been killed by a truck driver along a Queens roadway that is marked as a bike route, but offers no protection of any kind to cyclists.

According to the NYPD, Qiang Tu, 58, was cycling westbound on sharrows-only 47th Avenue in the Sunnyside section of Queens at around 8:35 a.m. on Wednesday when Shakai Waye, 33, of Newark, N.J., drove his 2015 Freightliner M21, a small truck, into Tu as he made attempted to make right turn onto 47th Street. Police could not say whether Tu was attempting to continue biking straight or whether he was also trying to turn right.

Tu was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he died. Waye remained on the scene and was charged only with driving with a suspended license.

Transportation Alternatives was incensed by the latest crash, on a designated bike route that does not have a bike lane, but only sharrows. The crash occurred not too far from a crash less than a month ago on a formerly protected bike lane in Sunnyside that the city downgraded to a mere painted lane after drivers destroyed the plastic barricades. The group also pointed out that the truck driver in Wednesday's crash was operating off a legal truck route, much as the driver of the box who severely injured a moped rider in Williamsburg a few days ago.

“Qiang Tu’s life could have been saved if Mayor de Blasio prioritized people over parking," said Juan Restrepo, the group's senior organizer. "Instead, even though he was biking along a so-called 'designated bike route,' there is zero physical protection from deadly cars here, only painted sharrows on the road. ... This area needs a comprehensive safety plan that will provide protected bike lanes connecting to the Kosciuszko Bridge, along the industrial corridor, and through popular bike thoroughfares like 47th Avenue. Paint is not protection. ... Vision Zero isn’t failing. Mayor de Blasio is failing.”

This has been the bloodiest year on the roads during Mayor de Blasio's nearly eight years in office. According to the DOT, 229 people died between Jan. 1 and Nov. 2 — a period that does not include Tu. That's 32 more deaths than during the same period last year, a 16-percent increase — and 47 more deaths than the last full pre-pandemic period, an increase of 26 percent.

Chart: DOT
Chart: DOT
Chart: DOT

The crash came one day before the NYPD and the DOT launched its annual "Dusk and Darkness" ticket blitz and education campaign. But Restrepo said such actions are meaningless.

“Vision Zero is more than a catch-phrase," he said. "It is not achievable with a ticket blitz or a day of passing out fliers. Vision Zero demands action, commitment, and political will to combat deadly car culture on our streets, and we are looking to the next administration to help us reach this goal once and for all.”

Since January, 2020, there have been 37 reported crashes along just the seven-block stretch of 47th Avenue between 51st Street and Greenpoint Avenue, injuring three cyclists, three pedestrians and six motorists, according to city stats.

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