Volume 19 • Issue 6 | June 23-29, 2006

2 cyclists killed in traffic accidents

By Albert Amateau

A Brooklyn filmmaker bicycling in the rain to his job on the West Side on Monday morning died when he fell under the wheels of an 18-wheel truck on a stretch of W. Houston St. under reconstruction at LaGuardia Pl.

Derek Lake, 23, apparently lost control of his mountain bike on a wet steel plate at about 9:30 a.m. June 26 as the westbound truck was passing. He was declared dead at the scene. The driver of the truck, Edward Howard, was cited for six equipment violations but none of them was related to the accident, police said. Witnesses said the truck was moving slowly past the construction site.

Lake, a recent film graduate of the School of Visual Arts, was the third bike rider killed on Houston St. since 2005, according to David Snetman of Transportation Alternatives, a bicycle advocacy group. On May 8, 2005, Brandie Bailey was killed when she was hit by a car while riding her bike on E. Houston St. at Avenue A and on June 22, 2005, Andrew Morgan died after his bicycle was hit by a truck on E. Houston at Elizabeth St.

Houston St., which is very wide and has no bike lanes, is notoriously dangerous for pedestrians and bike riders, Snetman said. There were eight auto accidents in which pedestrians were killed on Houston St. in the seven years from 1995 to 2001, three at Avenue A, according to a survey by Transportation Alternatives.

Advocates say the street has become even more dangerous during the city Department of Transportation’s street redesign and the Department of Design and Construction’s watermain project that began a year ago. Transportation Alterna-tives has criticized the street redesign for failing to provide two-way bike lanes. The city D.O.T. referred questions about construction safety to the city Department of Design and Construction, which did not return a call for comment.

For over a month, Councilmember Alan Gerson has petitioned the New York City Police Department to place a traffic agent at the site of construction. While the N.Y.P.D. said agents will be on site in July, Gerson repeated his call for immediate action in a press release. “No more deaths, no more delay,” he said in the release. “Put the traffic agents in place now.”

The W. Houston St. accident on Monday was the second bicycle accident fatality in Manhattan in the past week. Dr. Carl Nacht, 56, was riding his bike on the Hudson River Park bike path at 11:30 p.m. Thursday June 22, when a New York Police Department tow truck struck him as it crossed the bike path while turning into the auto tow pound on Pier 76 at W. 36th St., police said.

Nacht, who was riding home in the company of his wife at the time of the accident, was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital in critical condition and died Sun. June 25 of head injuries after he was transferred to St. Luke’s Hospital.

With reporting by Anindita Dasgupta


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