Neighbors in the Norwood community in the Bronx are reeling from yesterday's tragic bus accident, which claimed the life of 57-year-old Megan Charlop, an avid cyclist and foster mom who was biking to Bronx schools to finalize a community gardening project. Charlop, who was nicknamed "Mother Teresa" for opening her home to poor and sick children from Africa and the Caribbean, died around 8:30 a.m. after getting clipped by a car door and falling under a NYC transit bus. Longtime friend Jeanne Cuffy tells the Daily News:
She was a mother to all the children in the neighborhood. She was such a giving, gentle spirit. She had a heart bigger than life. All the children in the neighborhood are heartbroken. She was our angel. I waved her goodbye as she rode away. She looked so happy. She died doing something she loved.
The driver who doored Charlop, Min Kyung Kwan, 66, was given a Breathalyzer test at the scene and received a summons for interfering with a bicyclist. "He's not doing well," Kwan's son tells the News. "It's like he closed his eyes, and when he opened them, it happened already. It's a tragedy for both families." While it isn't actually a tragedy for both families, it's understandable that Kwan is distraught. "It happened so fast," observed one bus passenger. "Everybody got off the bus gasping and crying when they saw her."
Charlop, the director of community health at the Montefiore School Health Program, was married with four kids. Outside her home yesterday, her devastated husband Richard Powers, embraced friends and said, "I can't believe she's gone. It's going to be so hard now." In a statement, Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, called for more bike lanes in the area where Charlop died:
We cannot begin to express our sadness to Megan’s husband Richard, and to her children and her colleagues. It is an infuriating irony that one of the most respected and forward-thinking leaders of healthy, active transportation should die riding her bicycle—something she encouraged her neighbors to do with such passion. To lose someone like that in this way—what sort of message does that send about the safety of our streets?
According to Transportation Alternatives, the city "has long promulgated bike lanes for both Crotona and East Tremont Avenues, as evinced in the City’s own 13-year-old Bicycle Master Plan and published in its annual Cycling Map. The time to build these lanes, and ensure they are of a design that protects increasing numbers of cyclists from heavy bus and truck traffic, is long overdue."