By David Brand
Long Island City resident Robert Spencer was struck and killed by a driver while he cycled along Borden Avenue, blocks from his home, on Thursday morning. Spencer was the sixth cyclist killed by automobiles in New York City this year, according to transportation safety advocates.
“This morning, a cyclist was killed in LIC. Another awful tragedy. Another life lost. Another family shattered,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer in a statement. “We cannot normalize traffic violence and deaths. They cannot be a forgone conclusion. Cyclists deserve safety on our city’s roads like everyone else.”
The fatal collision occurred shortly before 8 a.m., NYPD officials said. The driver, a 51-year-old woman, hit Spencer with her black Chevy Cruze. She was not immediately arrested, but the investigation remained ongoing as of 3:45 p.m. Thursday afternoon, police said.
Transportation Alternatives' Senior Director of Advocacy Tom DeVito said the site of the crash was the “weak link” in a network of protected bike lanes along Center Boulevard and 2nd Street.
“The street should be redesigned without delay,” DeVito said. “A piecemeal approach to redesigning known dangerous streets is no way to achieve Vision Zero.”
TransAlt is advocating for the City Council to establish a “Vision Zero Street Design Standard” to standardize safety measures for all redesigns, Devito said.
Ten cyclists were killed in crashes last year — a record low number on pace to increase drastically in 2019. The first cyclist death of the year occurred on Jan. 1, when a man was “doored” into oncoming traffic. Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia, 26, was killed in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn shortly after 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, when an occupant of a 2009 Toyota taxi opened a door in front of him.
“We’re on pace to see three times as many people killed while biking in 2019 than the total killed in 2018,” he said. “We shouldn’t wait for people to die to fix our streets.”