A cyclist was killed by a hit-and-run truck driver while riding in a bike lane in East New York on Friday morning.
The victim has been identified as 21-year-old Din Rajon. Police say that he was riding an e-bike eastbound on Pitkin Avenue at around 1 a.m. when he was struck by the driver of a white box truck turning right on Atkin Avenue. The cyclist was riding in a marked bike lane at the time of the fatal crash, according to police.
The driver left the scene after running over Rajon. An NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist that an investigation is ongoing, though ABC-7 is reporting that police are "exploring the possibility the driver did not know the bicyclist was struck." A precinct officer also appears to have told the NY Post that the victim was wearing a "loosely secured helmet" at the time of the fatal crash. An NYPD spokesperson offered no evidence for how either of those determinations were made.
Steve Vaccaro, an attorney who often represents cyclists, told Gothamist that such details should be seen as "victim blaming nonsense" that fit into a pattern of police behavior after a cyclist is killed. "This is the same old play that has been exposed as a sore point by the safe streets community and crash victim survivors over and over again," he said, pointing to past examples of misleading police statements made in the wake of fatal crashes.
"It does real damage to the crash victims in these cases when they do this," he added. "It's a hit-and-run driver, so why aren't we talking about what the driver did wrong?"
Rajon's death marks at least the fourth traffic fatality involving a bicyclist or pedestrian in Brooklyn this week, according to Transportation Alternatives. The group also points out that East New York, "like many predominantly low-income communities of color in New York City," has no protected bike lanes.
Photos of the crash obtained by the Post appear to show that the victim was riding a throttle-assist e-bike. The bikes are commonly used by immigrant delivery drivers, and have been the target of increased enforcement ordered by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The crackdown has proved controversial, as the city is currently in the process of legalizing app-based electric scooters while rolling out pedal-assisted Citi Bikes.
"It clearly makes no difference how a bicycle is propelled when large, multi-ton vehicles are added into the equation," said TransAlt Co-Interim Director Marco Conner. "People who use e-bikes are just as vulnerable to the dangers of reckless driving as people who ride regular bikes."
In a statement, Connor also called for the passage of the “Vision Zero Street Design Standard," which would help require the Department of Transportation to implement safety improvements whenever a street is resurfaced. "New Yorkers’ lives will depend on Mayor de Blasio's willingness prioritize safety above all," he said.