Politicians blame de Blasio following latest cyclist death, offer few solutions to crisis
Aug. 14-- Aug. 14--The caught-on-video death of Brooklyn bicyclist Jose Alzorriz led some elected officials on Tuesday to bemoan the lack of city bike lanes -- but they offered no concrete solutions to solve the crisis.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams joined street safety advocates for a bike ride from downtown Brooklyn to his office at 1 Centre St. in lower Manhattan and said the trip made him change the way he thinks about the danger of cars in New York.
"The fact of the matter is, on the road, the driver behind the multi-ton metal is the most privileged position on the road," Williams said after the ride. "The pedestrian is the least privileged, and up from there is the cyclist. We've just got to treat it that way."
Williams blamed Mayor de Blasio for not doing enough to make streets safer for cyclists -- 19 people have been killed on bikes this year, a sharp increase from the 10 that were killed in all of 2018.
De Blasio spokesman Seth Stein said the mayor is "laser focused" on street safety and pointed to HIzzoner's recently announced plan to drastically expand the city's network of protected bike lanes.
Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), who joined Williams at a press conference following the ride, said Coney Island Ave., the south Brooklyn street where Alzorriz was killed, should have been redesigned years ago.
"Coney Island Ave. was identified in the DOT report as a dangerous corridor," said Lander. "Everybody, myself included, who did not do more work to get our changes done there faster have some responsibility to share here."
Councilman Carlos Mechaca (D-Brooklyn) blamed the spate of cyclist deaths on the amount of street space that is dedicated to cars. "We have to reclaim our streets," he said.
Still, the politicians had few answers as to how potentially life-saving street redesigns could be expedited.
Williams suggested bringing more community groups into conversations about cycling infrastructure -- a strategy that some critics say has hamstrung the mayor's ability to install more bike lanes across the city.
"We should look where community boards are saying things and to the extent that we can address some of their concerns," said Williams, adding that many local groups feel their input is "falling on deaf ears."
Williams said he recently drove past the intersection where Alzorriz was killed. The chain-reaction crash was captured on shocking dash cam video that shows a Dodge Charger blowing a red light and pushing an SUV into Alzorriz.
Cops plan to charge the Dodge driver, 18-year-old Queens resident Umar Baig, sources have told the Daily News.
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