Run down! Two more bikers are killed by drivers

The Brooklyn Paper
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A bike rider was run over and killed by a school bus on a busy Park Slope street on Wednesday — the second cyclist killed in four days.

The death of 50-year-old Jonathan Millstein, killed when his bicycle collided with a turning school bus at the intersection of Eighth Avenue and President Street, and 8-year-old Alexander Toulouse, who was run down by a postal truck at Livingston Street and Boerum Place in Downtown on Saturday, were fresh reminders that even as biking soars in popularity, two-wheelers and four-wheelers are still finding it hard to share the road.

“Our streets have not caught up to who’s using them,” said Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the bike advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives.

Witnesses said Millstein, who lived in Boerum Hill with his wife and two sons, had been wearing a helmet during his crash, which occurred just after 8 am. There were no children on board the bus that killed him, and police did not issue a summons or arrest the driver, cops said.

A spokeswoman for the bus operating company, Atlantic Express Transportation Corp., said the professional driver has an otherwise clean driving record and is “extremely shaken.”

Toulouse’s death on Saturday sent a similar shockwave through Downtown.

The 8-year-old and his father, Christopher, were on an afternoon ride near their Cobble Hill home when the truck ran over him. Cops did not charge the driver for the accident.

“Zander was a very popular little boy at his school and the neighborhood where he was known for being polite and very smart,” his father said in a statement released to the Brooklyn Heights Blog. “He was a joy to his parents who are utterly devastated by their loss.”

Both accidents come as soaring gas prices — and summertime weather — has sent bikers onto the roadways in droves. And bike fatalities tend to be highest in the summer, Norvell said.

The Department of Transportation has created 70 miles of new bike lanes to accommodate the hordes, but the new paint often provokes a backlash from drivers, said Community Board 1 transportation committee chair Teresa Toro, whose board, like others in Brooklyn, has heard pleas from residents to both add and eliminate bike lanes.

“There’s an attitude that bikes are toys … and people are not taking biking seriously as a real form of transporta­tion,” Toro said. “A lot of the fighting comes around the presence or absence of a bike lane, where motorists feel entitled to use the entire street.”

Then again, bikers don’t always stay in designated lanes, preferring, as drivers do, the most-direct route.

“We can get to zero fatalities by giving attention to streets that are crying out for improvemen­ts,” Norvell said.

“It’s not stuff that breaks the bank — and, really, we can’t let another year slip without giving attention to streets like this.”

Updated 5:08 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

AWitness from Park Slope says:
The bicyclist was wearing a helmet. I saw the scene just before fire/rescue arrived.
Sept. 11, 2008, 6:24 am
Prk Slope Resident says:
I live on 8th Avenue and saw the aftermath from my kitchen window. He absolutely WAS wearing a helmet.
Sept. 11, 2008, 8 am
cahbasm from bushwick says:
don't you think a change should be made to the article...
Sept. 11, 2008, 9:02 am
Gersh Kuntzman (Brooklyn Paper) from Editor says:
Thanks for your help. The change has been made to reflect the new information you and others provided.

The Brooklyn Paper
Sept. 11, 2008, 10:16 am
Janet from Windsor Terrace says:
As much as I don't want to blaim the victim, everyone should think about the careless way in which bike riders behave. They run red lights, stop signs and swerve in and around traffic. They are also a threat to pedestrians. Consider the fact that Mr. Millstein might be the one at fault in this tragic accident.
Sept. 11, 2008, 2:42 pm
ell from cobble hill says:
janet - perhaps you should save your nasty comments for another day. this guy died. there is nothing to suggest it was his fault. if this were about a pedestrian being run over by a school bus, would you choose this forum to criticize jaywalkers? if you had no info that the guy jaywalked?
Sept. 11, 2008, 4:04 pm
Will from Atlanta says:

Good point about bikers. They should be banned from the road. I've never seen a car run a red light, stop sign, or swerve in traffic. Also, cars are no threat to pedestrians.

[Sarcasm off]

Cars have killed more peds in 2008 in NY than cyclist have in a decade. Look up the numbers before you shoot your mouth off.
Sept. 11, 2008, 4:34 pm
Sara from Denver, CO says:
As a former NYer and now a Denver resident, I can speak to the anti-bike climate that Janet seems to hold dear. The aggression, frustration and anger directed towards bikers (SOME of whom run red lights and SOME of whom do not) is disgusting. I believe these strong emotions are at the heart of many of the dangerous situations bikers find themselves in on a daily basis. Public buses come so close to my handle bars that I hold my breath to ensure that I maintain my straight path, lest I be hit. Drivers honk as they go by - seemingly a cruel joke to get you to lose your concentration.
I could go on. Responsible cyclists get a bad rep from those who are less responsible but the fact of the matter is. Janet, when you are sitting in your car - behind steel and glass and air bags - do you have ANY clue what it's like to be out there, saving the world (gas) or getting healthy, with a couple of inches of foam and a small sliver of plastic protecting you from vehicles that whiz by at high speeds? ANY CLUE?
I am deeply sorry to the families of these victims. What awful tragedies. My thoughts are with you all.
Sept. 11, 2008, 7:52 pm
Robin from Philadelphia says:
The obvious party at fault is the bus driver. One of the most common causes of acidents like this is the fact that the driver made a right hand turn, cutting off the cyclist and/or running him over. In the case with the school bus, its turn being so wide, the rider was probably pulled underneath the bus as it turned INTO HIM.
Sept. 11, 2008, 8:33 pm
Mike Schwab from Springfield, IL says:
I think all roads that have lane striping should have one bicycle Sharrow in each direction leaving an intersection. This helps establish that bicycles are supposed to be on the road and which direction and lane position they should be taking. They should be used, even on narrow roads, and even on wide roads that could have bike lanes.
Sept. 12, 2008, 8:17 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
I wholeheartedly agree with Mike Schwab; better bike lanes on the roads will create fewer accidents between bicyclists and cars. Furthermore I don't think it would be a bad idea to incorporate a section about driving with bikes on the road into the five hour theory course required to get a learner's permit.
Bicyclists are much more vulnerable than car drivers, so the burden is on car drivers to avoid collisions with them.
Sept. 12, 2008, 8:47 am
culprit from WT says:
Why is anyone surprised? Every day I take my life in my hands on my bike. There are too many drivers, too many who can't drive, too many who don't give a damn--talking on their cel phones is more important to them than the life of another person. Not only do we need SEPARATE bike lanes, we need some actual police enforcement of drivers who ignore traffic laws (that would be every driver in Brooklyn)
Sept. 12, 2008, 11:16 am
dre from Bronx, N.Y. says:
I was born and raised in N.Y.C.(1977) and have ridden all over it. It's so easy for people to blame cyclists and yes the few that break the law hurt our overall public opinion. Drivers must remember that bad cyclists are not the majority and if you can't control your emotions and opinions about other people while you are driving you are now a potential killer with a very dangerous weapon. In that case it's NOT AN ACCIDENT!
Sept. 12, 2008, 11:34 am
Hanna from Park Slope says:
Why do you assume Janet is a driver? It is pedestrians who have the most to fear from irresponsible bike riders. The larger your vehicle, the more danger you pose. Many New Yorkers don't drive vehicles of any size. From a pedestrian's perspective, I've seen bikers flout traffic laws far more than cars and I had a friend who was badly injured by a bicycle going the wrong way on a one-way street.

That's not to deny that bike riders who obey all traffic laws don't face significant danger. Helmet or not, they are no match for a bus. And unlike a pedestrian victim of a bike crash, they are far more likely to lose their lives.
Sept. 12, 2008, 11:37 am
conrad from park slope says:
A good and fair article, but you should fix an error. "Then again, bikers don’t always stay in designated lanes, preferring, as drivers do, the most-direct route."

Of course bikes can be on any city road legally. But even on those with bike lanes, bikers are not required to ride in the designated lanes. Just as buses can ride outside the bus lane as need be, same with cyclists.
Sept. 12, 2008, 1:36 pm
Brian from Crown Heights says:
It is interesting for me to see so much of this discussion on whether or not he was one of those cyclists breaking the traffic laws that drivers and pedestrians hold so sacrosanct in this city.

Many people think that things would be better for cyclists if they only all followed traffic laws, but honestly, I think that it has more to do with basic submission to drivers than anything else. Bike lane or not, most drivers don't want to treat cyclists as traffic, and feel perfectly entitled to physically intimidate them with their vehicles. That some cyclists take this and reflect it back is seen as insubordination. Further, I think most drivers get resentful and angry when cyclists can fly past them while they are stuck in traffic. As we can see from cops assaulting critical mass participants and once again, not charging a driver in the death of a cyclist, the laws of the road are not really in place to protect the lives of cyclists. (On a weekday morning, ride down Cadmen Plaza and count how many police cars are parked in the bike lane.) I don't think cyclists should count on traffic laws or white lines to protect them - drivers will continue to seize as much space as they want unless cyclists physically take it back.
Sept. 13, 2008, 5:50 pm
dave from Park Slope says:
Everyone feel better now that you've blamed someone?

I saw this happen and it was an accident. The poor bus driver was a mess, and did nothing wrong. The poor bike rider was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

90% of what was written above came from someone who has an opinion, and only that. If you have an idea, bring it up at a city council meeting instead of trying to blame someone.

When you post an accusation on a website with little to no information, you're being an a$$hole and nothing less.
Sept. 14, 2008, 10:48 am
Pete from Dumbo says:
I think the city needs to crack down on cyclist who run red lights. I do feel sorry for all the cyclist who lost their life. most cyclist don't stop for red lights.
Sept. 14, 2008, 12:23 pm
kerline from parkslope says:
i am really taken back by what happened i feel a chill everytime i pass there i so his name and the day he was killed and i pray for the family that they find pease amongst all justice .
Oct. 21, 2008, 9:46 pm
Dr. Deborah Isom from Brooklyn Heights says:
Press Release

Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School is pleased to announce that two students, Jasmine Nazirbage and William Herrera won the 2009 ABENY Essay Contest. The topic of their essays was “The NAACP: 100 Years of Struggle and Achievement”. This citywide competition was sponsored by the Association of Black Educators of New York and the students read their winning essays at the Annual Commemoration of African Heritage Ceremony which was held on Saturday, February 7th 2009 at the Brooklyn Heights Public Library, located at 280 Cadman Plaza in downtown Brooklyn from 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. The students were awarded a $50 U.S. Savings Bond and a special certificate of recognition.

Ms. Cynthia Edwards, Principal
Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School
150-91 87th Road
Jamaica, New York 11432
(718) 739-8080 ext. 321
Feb. 27, 2009, 11:59 am

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