April 13, By Hannah Wulkan
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is calling on the Department of Transportation to increase safety at a Sunnyside intersection that has seen two cyclists injured or killed in the last ten days.
Van Bramer held a press conference today to call on the DOT to implement new safety measures at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and 39th Street, where a cyclist was hit and killed by a drunk driver on April 1 and a cyclist was hospitalized after being hit by a box truck on April 10.
“Two cyclists killed or seriously injured in 10 days in the same intersection is not where we need to be when it comes to realizing Vision Zero,” Van Bramer said. “I am calling on the Department of Transportation to make immediate and vital safety improvements to this dangerous intersection before another cyclist, pedestrian, or motorist is killed.”
Van Bramer was joined by Flor Jimenez, the widow of Gelacio Reyes, who was killed in a hit-and-run at the intersection on April 1 around 3 a.m. on his way home from work. The driver in the incident was arrested and charged for driving under the influence and driving without a license.
On April 11, David Nuñez was hit by a box truck turning right on to 39th Street, and is still hospitalized with serious injuries. The driver in that incident stayed on the scene and was charged with failing to yield to a bicyclist and failing to exercise due care.
“It has become evident from yet another crash at 43rd Ave and 39th Street in Sunnyside that we need swift action to protect cyclists who use the key commuting corridor on 43rd Ave,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.
“Now that Mayor de Blasio has made an additional budgetary commitment to street redesigns, the City needs to move quickly to fix dangerous corridors like 43rd Avenue with protected bike lanes and intersection safety improvements that meet a Vision Zero design standard.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said that the DOT would look in to safety improvements at the intersection, but noted that the two accidents occurred under very different circumstances, and were likely not caused by the same issues, as the first crash involved an intoxicated driver.
“The April 1st fatal crash was the first traffic fatality at this intersection since at least 2009. DOT will study the intersection for potential safety enhancements,” said the DOT spokesperson.