downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 35 | January 12 - 18, 2007

Cyclists honor those killed on the road in ’06

Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel

Cyclists lift their bikes at Houston St. and LaGuardia Pl. for Derek Lake, 23, a cyclist killed by a truck there in June.

By Jefferson Siegel

Bicycle solidarity was on eloquent display last Sunday as hundreds rode in the Second Annual Memorial Ride to honor the 14 riders killed on city streets last year.

Two separate rides started out early in the morning in Queens and the Bronx, stopping at a dozen sites before meeting up mid-afternoon in the Village. At each stop, friends and colleagues poignantly spoke of their loss in words usually reserved for close family members.

Risi Kondor, a computer science student at Columbia, rode even though he didn’t know any of the fallen cyclists.

“I think it’s important to make a statement to make this city safer and to commemorate those who can’t be here,” Kondor said as cyclists filled LaGuardia Pl. north of Houston St. at the spot where Derek Lake, 23, was struck and killed by a truck on June 23.

Keen Berger, the Village Democratic district leader and Community Board 2 member, circulated through the crowd with a basket of homemade oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. Ian Dutton, a public member of C.B. 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, lamented the loss of Lake, an aspiring filmmaker, as well as the deaths of other cyclists on Houston St. in recent years, a thoroughfare so deadly some are calling it the “Boulevard of Death.”

“I am dismayed at the Department of Transportation’s disregard for the significance of these fatalities,” Dutton said, “and disappointed by D.O.T.’s efforts to ignore our neighborhood’s insistence that we address the safety issues for the cyclists that use this street.”

As they had on every stop that day, cyclists then held their bikes aloft in a symbolic “bike lift” salute before pedaling east.

At Third Ave. and 17th St., a white ghost bike marked where East Village restaurant owner Reginald Chan was killed last September. Members of Chan’s family stood silently, each holding a single flower. Cyclists dismounted and covered the stark white bike with colorful blooms.

The ride then pedaled west, past Union Square and through Chelsea to Ninth Ave. and 29th St., where Darren Lewis, 20, was killed in August.

On a summer night last June, Dr. Carl Henry Nacht, 56, was killed by a tow truck while he was riding on the bike path along the Hudson River at 38th St. On Sunday his wife, Mary Beth Kelly, surrounded by family and friends, stood before the silent group of riders and recalled how a bystander’s shirt was unable to stanch the blood of her husband’s fatal wound.

“I think the basic human nature is to be compassionate. We’re involved in civic activity; it gives meaning to our lives — connect with our community and think about the things that elevate us,” Kelly offered.

The ride then proceeded down the path to Clarkson St., where police say Eric Ng, 22, was killed by a drunk driver in December, one of three cyclists killed in the final weeks of the year.

At the last stop, the Memorial for Unnamed Cyclists on Houston and Lafayette Sts., the crowd listened to speeches by the ride’s organizers from Time’s Up! and Transportation Alternatives before performing a final bike lift.

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