With Another New Yorker Killed in a Known-Dangerous Area, Cyclists Need a Voice in City Hall Now More Than Ever

Statement of Transportation Alternatives’ Interim Executive Director Ellen McDermott
Joseph Cutrufo -
(646) 873-6027

“On Monday morning, a hit-and-run driver struck and killed Joseph Chiam, a 72-year-old man, on his bicycle near 8th Avenue and West 45th Street. The cyclist was left for dead on the asphalt. Police have identified the driver but have yet to report their arrest. Everyone at Transportation Alternatives has Mr. Chiam’s family and friends in our thoughts.

Despite a frigid start to the year, Mr. Chiam is at least the fourth cyclist killed in just 35 days of 2019. Just four days ago, 62-year-old Susan Moses died from injuries incurred last weekend, when she was struck on her bicycle by an SUV driver on Kings Highway near Van Sicklen Street.

More and more people are traveling by bike in our city, and more than ever, they need safe, protected space. Each of these deaths was a preventable tragedy -- if only City Hall had a better understanding of the needs of cyclists. Now more than ever, people who ride bikes need a voice in City Hall. We need a Bike Mayor who can liaise between city government and the cycling community, flag the unique dangers faced by cyclists, and speak up to accelerate the installation of protected bike lanes and intersections -- the latter of which could have prevented Mr. Chiam’s death.

Case in point: for years, people who ride bikes in New York City have been outcrying the danger of a disconnected bike lane network in the Midtown Manhattan area where this cyclist was killed, but too little has been done to remedy the problem. Cyclists also protest the danger of “mixing zones” -- when protected bike lanes peter out at intersections, like on 8th Avenue and 45th Street, where Mr. Chiam was killed -- and for years have called for protected bike lanes to be coupled with protected intersections. While the City has piloted protected intersections at a handful of sites citywide, and found them remarkably successful, their installation has not continued and the vast majority of intersections remain unprotected.

Fixing these problems could have prevented Monday’s fatal hit-and-run, but instead the cycling community suffers preventable tragedy, because their problems are not heard by City Hall. With a Bike Mayor representing cyclists’ voices, these problems would have a clear channel toward resolution. New Yorkers’ lives are at stake.”