Cyclist killed at 65th and Sixth by hit-and-run driver

July 1, 2013 Helen Klein
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There’s been another serious accident at one of the neighborhood’s most problematic intersections, as an elderly bicyclist was struck and killed by a truck that fled the scene at 65th Street and Sixth Avenue at about 9:30 a.m. on Friday, June 28.

Police say that the bicyclist, Shui Jiang, a 68-year-old Asian man who lived on 65th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, was riding northbound on Sixth Avenue when he was hit by a white flatbed truck with a New York license plate that was making a right turn onto 65th Street, from Sixth Avenue northbound. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency medical technicians.

By day’s end, cops had arrested James Billups, a 46-year-old black man, and charged him with Leaving the Scene of an Accident and Failure to Exercise Due Care.

Community Board 10 has repeatedly called for safety measures at the intersection, which is extremely complex, stressed District Manager Josephine Beckmann, with exit and entrance ramps to the Gowanus, as well as a service road at one side of the main roadway.

“That intersection has always been a high accident location,” noted Beckmann, explaining that there is high traffic volume at the intersection.

With traffic coming from a variety of places, “It’s a converging area,” Beckmann added, “with a lot of traffic and a lot of trucks.”

In the past few years, there have been changes at the intersection aimed at improving safety, in part as a result of the recent redesign by the New York State Department of Transportation in connection with the ongoing emergency repairs to the Gowanus Expressway viaduct overhead.

City DOT has also made changes to increase safety at the intersection, including creating left turn, right turn and straight ahead lanes for traffic coming off the Gowanus, as well as placing orange bollards to restrict certain traffic movements.

In addition, as a result of the board’s efforts, traffic control officers have been assigned to the intersection at certain times, and have proven to be helpful when there, said Beckmann, though it is unclear whether one was there at the time the accident occurred. “On Fridays in summer, there should be a traffic control agent there from early morning to maybe 2 p.m.,” she contended.

“That whole thoroughfare in Community Board 10 has been a subject of concern,” remarked Brian Kieran, who has served as the board’s Traffic & Transportation chairperson for the past several years and will be the board’s chair as of July 1.

As the board grapples with proposed traffic changes along Fourth Avenue which have been under consideration for the past several months, Kieran said members would also “look carefully” at the most recent incident, with plans made to meet once or twice during the summer – when community boards are usually on hiatus – to consider traffic and speeding issues in the area.

A key to increasing safety, said Kieran, is reducing the incidence of speeding, “because we know if we can control speeding, fewer accidents do occur and if they do occur, they are less likely to be deadly.”

Kieran said that, personally, he favors speed cameras installed on the area’s most trafficked thoroughfares, including 65th Street, Bay Ridge Parkway, 86th Street near Shore Road and Fourth Avenue, though he worries that with the state legislature approving only 20 for the city, all to be located near schools, the entire CB 10 area might not get a single one.

“We are not going to be able to prevent accidents from happening, but we should and could be doing more,” Kieran stressed. “I think the figures bear out the feeling of most people that we have more accidents than we should, and something should be done to address that.”

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