According to Transportation Alternatives, more than 200 people, including pedestrians, cyclists and scooter riders, have already been killed in traffic incidents this year. At this rate, the advocacy group said, 2020 will be the deadliest year of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure.
One of the latest victims was 35-year-old Alfredo Cabrera Liconia, a Mexican immigrant delivery worker who was riding an electric scooter on Astoria Boulevard near Crescent Street when he was fatally struck by a Bud Light tractor trailer.
Though some details are still unclear, like whether he was riding in the Crescent Street bike lane, what is certain is that he should not have died while trying to do his job.
For months, Astoria’s elected officials, including assemblyman-elect Zohran Mamdani, have asked the Department of Transportation to make the Crescent Street bike lane safer.
They asked the agency to install Qwirk Kurbs or Jersey barriers at key points along the bike lane to make it a truly protected path for cyclists, including the very intersection where Liconia was struck.
The DOT should listen to the experiences of cyclists and advocates who say even though Crescent Street now has a protected bike lane, it’s still not as safe as it could be. They should strongly consider replacing the flexible delineators with infrastructure that actually prevents cars from recklessly driving through bike lanes.
It’s the right thing not just in light of Liconia’s death, but to prevent future tragedies from happening along the heavily trafficked thoroughfare.
While de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative is commendable in theory, city policy must actually decrease the number of traffic fatalities. That means better infrastructure and street design, more outreach and education and, yes, enforcement.
All users of the road, especially motorists and truck drivers, must be aware of their surroundings and the consequences of their actions. Otherwise, New York City will continue to see these tragic and preventable losses.