It happened around 9 a.m. at 35th Street and Third Avenue in the Greenwood Heights section of Brooklyn. According to police, 30-year-old Em Samolewicz swerved to avoid a car door that was opening and went into traffic, where she was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer truck.
Samolewicz was pronounced dead on arrival at Lutheran Hospital. No charges have been filed, police say no criminality was involved.
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The driver of the van told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner he feels horrible.
“It is AGAINST the law to open a car door into the path of a cyclist. Our lives are in each other’s hands. We must act like it,” Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote . “Rising cyclist fatalities are a crisis. We will do everything in our power to stop them.”
“Pay attention. Drivers must pay attention to make sure that they will be able to see there is not a cyclist coming,” said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who lives a block away from the scene of the accident.
“It’s scary just to think about the possibility that my life is on the line every time I bike ride just to go to work,” cyclist Miguel Gomez said. “I’ve been doored plenty of times. I’ve been doored, like, four times. Luckily, I don’t ride that fast just because I want to be safe, but yeah, it’s a scary thing. It happens all the time.”
Bike advocates say the area where the accident happened is a deadly corridor.
“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. The danger is compounded by the Gowanus Expressway looming overhead, and the poor visibility at intersections caused by the elevated highway’s support structures and the acres upon acres of land beneath where people store cars and trucks. Dangerous driver behavior in this neighborhood shouldn’t be surprising; the environment suggests that this corridor belongs to the cars, and if you must ride a bike on this street, you do so at your own risk,” said Deputy Director of Transportation Alternatives Ellen McDermott.
The crash took place just a few blocks away from where Hugo Garcia was struck and killed on Jan. 1. In that incident, a car door was also opened into the cyclist’s path.
“Now that we have seen two tragic cycling deaths and one pedestrian death on Third Avenue in 2019, we expect the Department of Transportation will take swift action to amend the new Green Wave plan to include a redesign of this deadly corridor. But we must not stop there. Serious problems — like people dying on our streets — demand serious solutions. This city and region need to have a serious discussion about removing the elevated highways that create such lethal car-dominated environments,” McDermott said.
There have now been eighteen cyclists deaths on city streets so far this year:
- Jan. 1 – Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia, 26, was killed on Third Avenue near East 28th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
- Jan. 4 – Hector Ayala, 41, was killed on Linden Boulevard near Crescent Street in East New York, Brooklyn.
- Jan. 26 – Susan Moses, 63, was killed at Kings Highway and Van Sicklen Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
- Feb. 4 – Joseph Chiam, 72, was at 8th Avenue and 45th Street in Midtown, Manhattan. The driver took off.
- Feb. 28 – Aurilla Lawrence, 25, was killed at Broadway and Rodney Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
- March 14 – Robert Spencer, 53, was killed at Borden Avenue and Second Street in Long Island City, Queens.
- April 17 – Pedro Tepozteco, 26, was killed on 47th Street near 17th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
- April 27 – Victor Ang, 74, was killed on 11th Avenue near West 30th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan.
- May 11 – Kenichi Nakagawa, 22, was killed at Dean Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
- May 12 – Robert Sommer, 29, was on Avenue U between Burnett and East 33rd streets in Marine Park, Brooklyn.
- May 15 – Yisroel Schwartz, 16, was killed at 17th Avenue and 53rd Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
- June 9 – Mohammed Abdullah, 29, was at Avenue D and 105th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated with her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat.
- June 24 – Robyn Hightman, 20, was at West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue. The driver was cited for equipment violations.
- June 27 – Ernest Askew, 57, was at Chester Street and Sutter Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
- July 1 – Devra Freelander, 28, was at Boerum Street and Bushwick Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
- July 23 – Alex Cordero, 17, was at Castleton Avenue and Clove Road in the West Brighton section of Staten Island.
- July 23 – A 58-year-old man was at McGuiness Boulevard and Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
- July 29 – A 30-year-old woman was at 35th Street and Third Avenue in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn.
The tragic spate of deaths prompted de Blasio to unveil a new “Green Wave” bike safety plan Thursday.
Mayor Bill De Blasio Announces ‘Green Wave’ Bicycle Plan
“It can not go on like this,” de Blasio said at the time.
The $58 million plan would:
- Create more protected bike lanes
- Expand bike lanes in 10 priority districts in Brooklyn and Queens that have seen a large number of accidents
- Expand Project “Green Wave” so that all traffic can pass from one green light to another
One part of the plan in the pilot program is to adjust the timing of green lights so that all traffic – cars, trucks and bikes – can pass through one light after another.
The speed limit in those zones will be set at 15 miles per hour, and the first corridors are set to come online next year.