This morning’s deadly crash, in which a box truck driver killed 21-year-old cyclist Din Rajon on Pitkin Avenue in East New York, marks the fourth traffic fatality involving a bicyclist or pedestrian in Brooklyn this week. On Wednesday a tractor-trailer driver killed 71-year-old Pinchos Kreiner while he was crossing McDonald Avenue in Borough Park. On Tuesday, a van driver killed 57-year-old Francine LaBarbara while she was crossing Avenue Y in Gravesend. And early Monday morning, an SUV driver killed 63-year-old Pedro Jimenez while he was setting up traffic cones for a film shoot on Douglass Street in Cobble Hill.
East New York, like many predominantly low-income communities of color in New York City, has no protected bike lanes. Pitkin Avenue, where Rajon was struck, has a conventional bike lane, consisting of nothing more than a painted line to separate people on bikes from general traffic. Reports indicate that Rajon was using an e-bike when he was killed. It clearly makes no difference how a bicycle is propelled when large, multi-ton vehicles are added into the equation. People who use e-bikes are just as vulnerable to the dangers of reckless driving as people who ride regular bikes.
The people killed this week were going about the business of everyday life in New York City -- working, commuting, returning home from shul. They died because of reckless driving and streets where pedestrians and people on bikes are an afterthought. In the case of Din Rajon and other bicyclists who have been killed or seriously injured, life-saving measures, like protected bike lanes, must be applied as a matter-of-fact, not sporadically as has been the case for years. Right now, there is a bill in front of City Council which would establish a “Vision Zero Street Design Standard,” which would help require the Department of Transportation to implement safety improvements every time a street is resurfaced. That bill should be a top priority in the new year. New Yorkers’ lives will depend on Mayor de Blasio's willingness prioritize safety above all.