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UPDATE: Cyclist Killed by Truck Driver Near Prospect Park

The scene of the crash is a popular area for recreation. Inset, cops look over the dead cyclist’s bike. Photos: Dave Colon

A cyclist was killed by a truck driver along Parkside Avenue near Prospect Park this morning, police said.

According to the preliminary report from the NYPD, the 25-year-old bike rider, later identified as Kala Santiago, and the tractor-trailer driver were both moving eastbound on Parkside Avenue at around 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning when "the bicyclist collided" with the truck near Parade Place, a police spokeswoman said. A subsequent press release from the NYPD neither blamed the driver nor Santiago, saying both she and the truck drivers were "traveling eastbound on Parkside Avenue when the collision occurred."

No further details were provided. Santiago died at the scene. The truck driver, who was not immediately charged, remained on the scene.

In an interview at the scene, the driver, Saeed Ahmed, claimed the cyclist fell into his truck after she "probably hit" a parked car on the narrow roadway as he drove. The cyclist was ahead of him, he said, and he moved to pass.

"As soon as she got right by my wheels of my trailer, she got nervous ... and she went under," Ahmed said, confirming that the NYPD released him with no tickets.

Local truck routes are in green. Through routes are in blue. Parkside is neither. Map: DOT
Local truck routes are in green. Through routes are in blue. Parkside is neither. Map: DOT
Local truck routes are in green. Through routes are in blue. Parkside is neither. Map: DOT

The truck associated with the crash has a relatively clean record, but was nabbed less than a month ago in Queens for speeding, city records show.

Parkside Avenue, which late last year got a road diet that narrowed the roadway and added a protected bike lane between Ocean and Coney Island avenues, is not a designated truck route, though it is surrounded by them.

The roadway is often jammed with trucks, said residents.

“Massive tractor trailers simply do not fit on streets in Flatbush," said Liz Denys, volunteer campaign lead for Flatbush Streets for People, a Transportation Alternatives campaign. "They regularly endanger people walking and biking. We need real measures to keep deadly monster trucks out of our neighborhood.”

“Five years ago, DOT reported that Flatbush and the surrounding area has a deadly combination for people biking: a high number of bicyclist fatalities but little bike infrastructure. Five years later, our neighborhood is still waiting on a comprehensive network of lifesaving protected bike lanes. Senseless tragedies like this are preventable. We demand action now."

Parkside was a dangerous stretch in the days before the city made improvements — and its proximity to popular Prospect Park led to crashes endangering kids.

In 2019, the last full calendar year before the pandemic, there were 55 reported crashes on just the four blocks of Parkside between Ocean and Coney Island avenues, injuring three cyclists, three pedestrians and six motorists, according to city stats. But in 2021, when Parkside was first converted to an open street for the pandemic and then got the protected bike lane, total crashes for that year dropped to 23, the same stats show.

According to the Department of Transportation, Santiago is the 14th cyclist killed so far this year. In total, 191 people were killed in crashes on the streets of New York through Oct. 11, the second highest death count since the Vision Zero era began in 2014. Last year, 206 people were killed over the same period, and the year ended with the most deaths since 2013.

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