April 6, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A group of cycling advocates will honor the life of Gelacio Reyes one year after his death at a Sunnyside intersection on Sunday.
The event, organized by Transportation Alternatives and Cyclists Latinoamericanos de New York, includes riding through Reyes’ regular commute from the Upper East Side in Manhattan to Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.
The riders will stop along the way at the intersection of 39th Street and 43rd Avenue, where Reyes was struck and killed by an SUV driver last year. There, the groups will rally for safe bike lanes to prevent deaths and other tragedies. Speakers include Reyes’ family, the manager at the eatery Reyes worked at, and Queens-based safety advocates.
The same intersection also saw another incident 10 days later, when a cyclist was seriously injured after being struck by a driver. A “ghost bike” has since been installed at the location.
Juan Restrepo, Queens Organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said the event should see dozens of cyclists, but noted that the act is more important than the numbers it attracts.
“We want to do something that will be meaningful,” Restrepo said. “This one is just to remember the loss of life.”
The event comes after the Department of Transportation’s town hall with the community last month, where the agency presented a new proposal for safety improvements along Skillman and 43rd Avenues. The proposal would see a variety of safety improvements, most notably a system of protected bike lanes that would require the elimination of about 120 parking spaces through the two avenues.
The DOT’s original proposal caused much alarm when it was unveiled in November, as it called for over 150 parking spaces to be removed. The new plan, however, did not appear to change any pre-held opinions from the community.
The push for safety improvements along the two avenues was first called for by Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) after Reyes’ death.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. at Oaxaca Taqueria, located at 1198 1st Ave., on April 8. The rally in Sunnyside will be held at 11 a.m. At midday, the riders will continue to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Those interested in attending and riding can RSVP through the event’s Facebook page, or ride along during the day.