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Comics Enraged After Brooklyn-Based Performer Dies in Tragic Crash

Comedians are calling out the dangers of cars and the need for better cycling infrastructure after one of their own was killed while biking in Brooklyn last week.

Comedian Kenny DeForest has been killed.

After initial publication, police provided more information about the crash. This story has been updated throughout to eliminate errors in the original coverage and functions as a retraction and correction.

Comedians across the country are calling out the need for better cycling infrastructure after one of their own died in a tragic crash while biking in Brooklyn last week. 

Details remain murky, but according to police, media reports and a GoFundMe page, comedian Kenny DeForest was riding an electric Citi Bike when he collided with an unoccupied parked car on Rogers and St. Marks avenues on the morning of Dec. 8, and died five days later. His organs will be donated, according to his GoFundMe page.

DeForest's friends and family initially shared on the fundraising platform that he had been hit by a car driver, but the NYPD later corrected that narrative.

Cops said 37-year-old DeForest was heading north on Rogers Avenue at about 8:45 a.m. last Friday morning, but could not say on which side of the street he was riding, or if the car with which he collided had been parked legally.

Drivers may not park on the west side of Rogers between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. daily, according to city regulations; and on the east side, where there's a red painted bus-only lane — and a potentially dangerous divot — drivers may park any time except on Mondays and Thursdays for street cleaning.

The west side of Rogers Avenue. Photo: Dave Colon
A divot in the bus lane on the east side of Rogers Avenue. Photo: Dave Colon

Comedian Adam Conover, a one-time guest on "The War on Cars" podcast, who also once darkly poked fun at the origins of jaywalking on his show "Adam Ruins Everything," didn’t mince words about his friend's death. 

“Kenny DeForest was one of the funniest and most beloved comics any of us knew. A tragedy. Watch his special on YouTube. It came out three months ago. It’s beautiful. Fuck Cars forever,” Conover wrote on Instagram on Wednesday.

DeForest was rushed to Kings County Hospital after the crash, and had been in stable condition following surgery to relieve pressure from a brain bleed, but died on Dec. 13, his friends and family shared on his GoFundMe page, which has so far raised more than $175,000. The stand-up comedian, known for his appearances on Comedy Central, "Late Night with Seth Meyers" and "The Late Late Show with James Corden," is at least the 28th cyclist to be killed in traffic violence so far this year — the second-deadliest for bike riders since last century, advocates said. 

“We are devastated to learn that another New Yorker riding a bike was killed in New York City, making 2023 the deadliest year for cyclists since 1999,” said Danny Harris, the executive director at Transportation Alternatives. “Our leaders failed Kenny — and every bike rider killed in this record-breaking year for cyclist deaths. Our leaders know how to prevent crashes from happening, especially as we’re on track for the safest year for pedestrians during Vision Zero, and they must bring this same effort and urgency to keeping cyclists safe.”

And like advocates, another comedian quickly turned DeForest’s death into a rallying cry for better bike infrastructure. 

“My friend just died a tragic death from being hit by a car on a bike,” Kate Willett wrote on social media on Wednesday. “We need protected bike lanes.” 

After initial publication of this story, Transportation Alternatives updated its statement:

Transportation Alternatives Statement on New Information in the Kenny DeForest Crash

After Transportation Alternatives put out a statement last week, new information has been reported about the crash that killed Kenny DeForest.

On Dec. 14, Transportation Alternatives released a statement on the death of Kenny DeForest, who died from his injuries on the 13th after a Dec. 8 crash. Our assessment was based on available reporting at the time. Over the following days, more information has been released about the circumstances of the crash. According to the policeas well as friend Ryan Beck, Kenny DeForest was likely e-biking on Rogers Avenue in Crown Heights when he crashed into a parked car. He was brought to Kings County Hospital, where he died days later. As of now, we do not believe that he was hit by a car while biking, and we apologize for any confusion our previous statement may have caused.

Miscommunications like these can be avoided in the future with better transparency and accessibility. Unlike other peer cities, New York City does not have a regularly updated Vision Zero Dashboard; Washington D.C. updates their dashboard daily, but New York City’s dashboard is only updated every few months. 

At Transportation Alternatives, we strive to put out information that is both accurate and timely. We will continue to closely monitor this and future crashes, and send our condolences to the family and friends of Kenny DeForest. 

— with Dave Colon

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