A cyclist was fatally struck by the driver of a black sedan this morning while riding on Borden Avenue in Long Island City—a notoriously dangerous corridor where some local residents had recently petitioned the city for a protected bike lane and other pedestrian safety enhancements.
The cyclist, whose name has not yet been released by police, was near Second Street, about a block from the waterfront, when he was hit by the driver just before 8 a.m. on Thursday, authorities said. The victim was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Borden Avenue, a four-lane road with parking on both sides that runs from the waterfront to the Long Island Expressway, was already known to some Queens residents as a hostile stretch for non-drivers.
According to Patch, residents of the Murano Condominium Association—located just a block away from the fatal crash—had written to city officials in January requesting a two-way protected bike lane along Borden Avenue. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer told Patch he followed up earlier this month with a letter to the Department of Transportation asking for the bike lanes and other traffic calming measures.
The DOT has not responded to questions from Gothamist or the councilmember about the request for a bike lane.
In a statement, Tom DeVito, Transportation Alternatives' Senior Director of Advocacy, described Borden Avenue as "the weak link in an otherwise protected bike lane network along Center Boulevard and 2nd Street," and called for its immediate redesign. "A piecemeal approach to redesigning known dangerous streets is no way to achieve Vision Zero," he added.
The Long Island City victim is the sixth cyclist to die while riding in New York City this year, compared to 2018's record low of ten cyclist fatalties.
None of the drivers involved in the deaths of those cyclists—Chaim Joseph, Susan Moses, Hector Ayala Jr., Hugo Garcia, and Aurilla Lawrence—have been arrested, according to a police spokesperson. In the case of Lawrence, a 25-year-old bike messenger killed in a hit-and-run earlier this month, the driver has not yet been identified, despite police saying they had a lead 10 days ago.
The driver who struck this morning's victim remained on the scene, and was not charged. A police spokesperson told Gothamist, "There is no criminality at this time."
UPDATE 5:00 p.m. A spokesperson for the DOT tells Gothamist that the agency will "look into potential safety enhancements at Borden Ave and 2nd Street, as we do following any fatality." The spokesperson also noted that safety enhancements were recently added on 5th Street from Borden Avenue to 46th Ave, and that a future area-wide Long Island City/Hunters Point capital street reconstruction project will include traffic-calming components on parts of Borden Avenue.
UPDATE 3/15/19 The victim has been identified as 53-year-old Robert Spencer, a Long Island City resident and father of one who reportedly worked for the Department of Homeless Services. Transportation Alternatives will host a vigil for Spencer on Saturday at noon near Borden Avenue and 2nd Street.