Sunset Park

Sunset Park cyclist killed in collision with tractor-trailer

This marks the 13th cyclist killed in Brooklyn so far this year.

July 29, 2019 Noah Goldberg
People have installed "ghost bikes" around the city in memory of killed cyclists. This one is at Church Avenue and Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush. Eagle file photo by Todd Maisel

A Sunset Park cyclist was killed Monday morning, hit by an oncoming tractor-trailer after swerving to avoid a parked car’s opening door, police said.

The 30-year-old woman was identified identified as Em Samolewicz. She is the 18th rider killed on city streets in 2019 and the first since Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his Green Wave plan for cycling safety.

Cyclist deaths have skyrocketed in 2019. The woman is the 13th cyclist killed in Brooklyn alone so far this year, a sharp uptick from the total of 10 killed citywide in 2018.

The rider was heading north on Third Avenue in Sunset Park near 36th Street — as was the tractor-trailer — around 9 a.m. There are no bike lanes on Third Avenue near the site of the crash. The driver of the tractor-trailer remained at the scene, and no arrests were immediately made, according to police.

“Third Avenue, which has eight lanes for cars and zero for bikes, is a product of a bygone era when transportation decisions were made with the sole intention of moving as many vehicles as possible through our neighborhoods, without regard to the people living and working in those neighborhoods,” said Transportation Alternatives Deputy Director Ellen McDermott in a statement. “Streets like Third Avenue are incompatible with Vision Zero. To eliminate traffic deaths, these deadly corridors which are dedicated 100 percent to moving and storing vehicles must not be allowed to exist in their current form.”

Many of the injuries and fatalities of cyclists in Brooklyn have been crashes with trucks, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said at a press conference Thursday.

“A lot of [the crashes] have involved trucks. We’re seeing them in some of these areas where cycling is increasing, and cycling is really growing all over the city, it’s growing in Brooklyn. Areas where perhaps they were previously industrial. There’s a lot of commercial activity. Cyclists and trucks are mixing in the streets,” Trottenberg said.

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Fifty-three percent of cyclist fatalities citywide in 2019 have resulted from crashes with trucks — a percentage that has risen since the mayor’s Vision Zero plan launched in 2014.

Trottenberg noted that the spike in deaths is “really very heavy” in Brooklyn, while cyclist deaths in other boroughs are “tracking as they have in recent years.”

The mayor’s new plan will increase the pace of bike lane construction to 30 miles of protected bike lanes per year as opposed to the current pace of 20 miles per year. It will cause the removal of “thousands” of private parking spaces, according to Trottenberg.

As part of the new plan, a protected bike lane is slated to be constructed on Fourth Avenue between First Street and 60th Street in Sunset Park, one avenue over from where Monday’s cyclist was struck.

The plan laid out “Priority Bicycle Districts” throughout the boroughs — areas with high ridership but low levels of bike infrastructure. Included in Brooklyn are Brownsville, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay and Bay Ridge. Sunset Park is not one of the targeted districts.

Update (1:00 p.m.): This article has been updated to include a statement released by the group Transportation Alternatives.

Correction (7:46 p.m.): This article originally reported that the deceased was a man, per an NYPD statement. Police later corrected the statement with the victim’s identity. This post had been updated to reflect the correction. 

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