Dead Williamsburg cyclist was a major art figure

The Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

“Flaming Paint Tube,” by Mathieu Lefevre
“Paint Sandwich,” by Mathieu Lefevre
“Paintings that Say Something,” by Mathieu Lefevre
“Persian Rug,” by Mathieu Lefevre
“The Ghost with Binoculars,” by Mathieu Lefevre
“Tiger Carpet,” by Mathieu Lefevre

Bushwick cyclist Mathieu Lefevre, 30, was killed in a hit-and-run in Williamsburg early on Wednesday morning — and the driver was not charged.

Lefevre, a Montreal native, was riding southbound on Morgan Avenue at 12:01 am, when the driver of a flatbed truck traveling in the same direction made a sharp right turn on Meserole Street and struck him.

The driver did not appear to notice that he had hit Lefevre and kept going, cops said, and he later parked the truck on Scholes Street, one block away from the scene.

The police investigated, but ruled that the driver had not even known that he had collided with — and killed — the artist.

On Tuesday, cycling advocates blasted the NYPD for a “perfunctory” investigation.

“Ray Kelly and the NYPD are asleep at the wheel when it comes to dangerous drivers,” said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “A man is killed on our streets and the police respond with breathtaking indifference, letting a hit-and-run driver claim, ‘I didn’t see him,’ and drive off into the sunset.

“There is no other way to kill a person in our city where, ‘I didn’t see him,’ is allowed as an excuse. If you don’t see the person you’ve run over, then you are not exercising due care, which is required by law and human decency.”

White added that the NYPD has “consistently failed to file charges against drivers for their lethal behavior.”

Drivers have killed four bicyclists in Williamsburg since August.

“As long as the default response to a motor vehicle crash is, ‘accidents happen,’ the behaviors that kill and injure New Yorkers on our streets will continue,” White said.

Lefevre was an active member of 3rd Ward’s art space on Morgan Avenue and has shown his paintings in galleries in Toronto and Williamsburg and art festivals such as Bushwick Open Studios.

Lefevre’s friends are taken aback by the news.

“Upon meeting Mathieu, it felt like being with your brother or a friend — he was truly at ease and uncomplicated he was in his skin,” said Jamie Angell, a Toronto gallery director. “Unfortunat­ely, his life was cut short, and I’m sad for that, but whenever I think of him, I’ll always remember that twinkle in his eye.”

Art critic Hrag Vartanian, who visited Lefevre’s studio this summer, hoped to have him in a show he was planning for next year.

“That’s so sad, I loved his work — it was really awesome,” said Vartanian.

Lefevre had developed a reputation for intriguing mixed-media works that added a dose of ironic humor to his works, including those entitled, “flaming paint tube,” a sculpture made of fiery red and yellow oil paint exploding from a paint tube, and “paint sandwich,” a sculpture made of several colorful layers of paint squeezed between two blank white canvases.

“I work with irony and cynicism to test the fragility and the flexibility of these mediums, more specifically seeking to rearrange and disrupt the relationships between viewer, creator, commodity and context,” Lefevre wrote on his website.

Lefevre lived at Himrod Street near Central Avenue and had an art studio at Grand Street and Morgan Avenue; it is unclear whether he was coming from his studio the night of the accident.

Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bob from Bushwick says:
His death is the fourth cycling fatality in Williamsburg in the past four months — most of which occurred on truck routes that do not have bicycle lanes.

Thanks for pointing this out and making the observation. This is the kind of journalism I'm looking for from the Brooklyn Paper.

There are industrial parts of the city that are becoming increasingly residential. These neighborhoods are often not to be well served by transit and are attracting a demographic that tends to use bikes for transportation. The City clearly needs to do something to make these truck/bike routes safer.
Oct. 22, 2011, 8:54 am
anywho says:
This is sad.

I think it is important that bicyclists become more proactive just for self-preservation. Helmets, reflective gear, warning lights, whistles, proper maintenance of your bicycle, type of bicycle, and hours of operation must be considered.

Constant awareness of other vehicles (including other bicycles), pedestrians, and road conditions will help. You can't take it for granted that you can just hop on your bicycle and make it home anymore.
Oct. 22, 2011, 9:10 am
Tim from Boerum Hill says:
I have encountered this problem when turning right and there is a bike lane on the right. Unfortunately our natural instincts are not to look for bikes in the right lane before turning.....and the bicyclers feel they have the right of way to continue straight ahead not always anticipating right turning vehicles. It's a recipe for disaster. A big public awareness campaign would help.
Oct. 22, 2011, 12:40 pm
mike from GP says:
What would help is ticketing drivers who don't yield, as they are required to by law. Also, protected bike lanes... many, many more.
Oct. 22, 2011, 1:14 pm
bg from bushwick says:
turn signals not bike lanes save lives,
please use your turnsignals other wise bikers have no idea what you are thinking bike helmets dont make people psychic and do little to cushion the blow of a flat bed truck
Oct. 22, 2011, 1:22 pm
bill from glendale says:
its ashamed what happen but bikers 95 % dont obey traffic lights or stop signs they ride all different directions you want bike lanes then obey the rules stop for RED LIGHTS STOP FOR STOP SIGNS RIDE WITH TRAFFIC YOU DONT OBEY HOPE POLICE GIVE YOU BIKERS TICKETS AND FOR THE GUY WHO WAS HIT AND KILLED HE WAS THE 5% WHO OBEY THE RULES MAY GOD BLESS HIM AND HIS FAMILY
Oct. 22, 2011, 1:24 pm
jinx from bk says:
major? c'mon now
Oct. 22, 2011, 2:38 pm
jimutz from Cobble Hill says:
I've just come back from my first visit to Portland Oregon. Lots of bike lanes. Bike racks on all city buses and hanging racks on the city light rail. Pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles all obeying the rules of the road. Cyclists stopping at red lights and stop signs, and using hand signals when they turn.
I didn't see one cyclist try to squeeze past a car on the right. Keep right, pass left. No one dies.
Oct. 22, 2011, 2:52 pm
Mat's friend from Montreal says:
I'm a very close Mathieu's friend. Please, don't use his tragical death to promote your newspaper. Mathieu was a young promising artist trying to establish a long-term career, as several others. He was well known in Québec, his artwork was respected inside our art community, he had a charismatic and generous personality, and most of all he was a great person to be with, humorous and witty.
He will think that the mention "MAJOR ARTIST" is quite laughable. He was a hard-working and grounded artist, that's it. And a great buddy.
Oct. 22, 2011, 5:57 pm
Marianne from Berlin says:
My friend Mathieu was a great person and artist. He's not a "bike accident statistic". Please refrain from using these comments to criticise that state of New York's cycling paths. Someone actually died here, this is not a public policy issue.
Oct. 23, 2011, 1:15 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Yikes! His "Paint Sandwich" piece looks just like the 7 layer bean dip you can buy at Costco
Oct. 23, 2011, 9:05 am
Editor from Brooklyn says:
"The driver did not appear to notice that he had hit Lefevre and kept going"

Or maybe the driver did notice and ran away hoping to escape capture. That's why the police haven't been able to find him yet. The Brooklyn Paper has no evidence to suggest that the driver didn't notice.

Does this site moderate comments? Some are horribly offensive.
Oct. 23, 2011, 9:12 am
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Editor from Brooklyn,
Nor do YOU have evidence that the driver did notice. As there were no witnesses the only thing that has been established is that he was riding on the right side of a truck that made a right hand turn and hit him. Also, it was after midnight and the bike had no lights, the street is heavily traveled by trucks and there was no bike lane. IF you like forums that heavily censor comments head on over to Gothamist. If you are anti hipster or anti bike land or ever, ever even suggest anything but cyclists are are always right, drivers always guilty and the NYPD is assisting in cyclist genocide you will be censored or banned instantly.
Oct. 23, 2011, 9:21 am
Editor from Brooklyn says:
Wishing that someone has been sent to hell and being anti bike lane or anti hipster are totally different things. I'd like the BP to moderate comments that wish death or damnation on people. Everyone is someone's son, daughter, or friend.

Be as anti bike lane as you'd like.

I'd like the BP to withhold making assumptions on fault on EITHER side until facts are in.
Oct. 23, 2011, 11:01 am
S from PPW says:
He might have been riding fine and the truck overtook him and cut him off. Happens all the time.

What a tragic loss. How sad that people need to stereotype and say such terrible things.
Oct. 23, 2011, 4:35 pm
Matt from USA says:
"...the driver remains at large."

It's time for all commercial vehicles to have smart card readers instead of ignition keys, and ll drivers to have a corresponding card. Telemetry would broadcast position, course and speed such that traffic cameras or other infrastructure hosted receivers can log their passage.

Vulnerable roadway users could carry a device (e.g smart phone) that also records said info, so if there's an aggressive or unsafe driver (or worse, the next vehicular homicide) , there is a log of the event that can be taken to the police, registration authorities and insurance companies. This type of technology is very cheap these days. And with motorists as the top killer of people under 30 years old for the third straight decade, I say it's definitely a worthy investment.

It's time we put in place the means to make motorists accountable. We can start with the so-called "professional" drivers.
Oct. 24, 2011, 11:53 am
Katrina from Brooklyn says:
Don't you think this headline is a bit harsh and crude? We say deceased, not dead, and even that in the headline is a bit careless.

Thanks for bringing his art out, though-- it's moving and important to see what he gave to the world. My thoughts go out to his family and friends.
Oct. 24, 2011, 1:19 pm
Eric from Williamsburg says:
Well, they found the driver and didn't charge him with anything, not leaving the scene, nothing. Apparently the NYPD decided Mathieu ran a red light, even though no one was there to actually see this. And had he run the red light then the truck did as well, but that logic I suppose was lost on the NYPD.

Condolences to his friends and family.
Oct. 24, 2011, 3:50 pm
Evan from Bushwick says:
I'm so frustrated by the NYPD's reaction to this. They continue to ignore the problem and blame the victim. The driver should be charged with vehicular homicide but instead no charges. On top of that I rode past this intersection on my way home tonight and sure enough there were 8 cops standing around giving two women on bikes tickets for some small infraction like making a right on red. Meanwhile, more deadly traffic all around was ignored. Unbelievable.
Oct. 24, 2011, 6:38 pm
Anthony from Bushwick says:
I was Mathieu's roommate for over the past year. It was a privilege to have known him. I've never met someone so ambitious, honest, and a genuine good person than Mathieu. I'm painfully sorry that this happened, and I feel for his family and friends. If you knew Mathieu, he was a hard person not to love. I cared about him like he was a brother to me. I'll never forget him.
Oct. 24, 2011, 7:02 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
Eric from Williamsburg
Flatbed trucks can be 40 feet long. If the cyclist was well behind the front of the truck it is entirely possible that the front of the truck entered the intersection on a yellow light and the light turned red before the cyclist reached the intersection resulting into the cyclist running into the side of a turning truck. so, your logic doesn't hold up at all and you have no evidence to the contrary. If you have proof otherwise please share it with the NYPD
Oct. 24, 2011, 7:51 pm
Kevin from Williamsburg says:
This is a tragedy, no matter how you slice it. I'm sorry this happened.

I hope that some of the bikers that I see on the streets will embrace wearing helmets all the time, and bike lights at night.

If you are beside a vehicle, you should have a bell,and ring that bell once or twice so that they are aware of you like sonar.

You cannot be too careful -- if it is you against some crazy driver, you will lose. You will not win, you will end up dead or mangled. Its really not worth being cavalier. I get really upset when I see a too-casual attitude in bicyclists.

Agitate for more bike lanes, yes, do. But also PLEASE pay attention, be alert, and follow traffic signals. Please.
Oct. 24, 2011, 10:21 pm
S from PPW says:
How would a helmet help me if my torso is crushed by the wheels of a flatbed truck? If someone shoots at you with a bazooka, a bullet-proof vest isn't going to help.

And a bell is great for getting the attention of pedestrians, but it's a tad hard for truck drivers to hear.

We should all be safe, follow the law, and take common sense precautions, but neither a helmet nor a bell would have saved this cyclist's life.

Please, don't blame the victim.
Oct. 25, 2011, 9:38 am
EPJ from Williamsburg says:
Rezone Bushwick. Add separated bike lanes on industrial trucking routes. Write to Janette Sadik-Khan:
Oct. 25, 2011, 12:14 pm
elizabeth from toronto says:
I can't believe I came across this article...
This is a tragic accident and my heart goes out to this person and their family.
I am so appalled and dismayed that somebody could be this self absorbed and insensitive....
I guess I am sharing it because I want people to put this person in their place. its so upsetting.
Oct. 25, 2011, 3:16 pm
SwampYankee from ruined Brooklyn says:
elizabeth from toronto
Thanks for the pointer to diehipster. That is one of the funniest websites I've seen in years. This guy is spot on and has hipsters and all tier fauxhemion —— pegged. He is absolutely corrected that these wooly hat, birth control glasses, PBR drinking flyover state imports, rent-raising Trustafarrian trash have ruined Brooklyn, This guy should be Mayor
Oct. 25, 2011, 6:48 pm
mike from GP says:
For those interested in actually doing something constructive about this problem (instead of blaming the victim), there's going to be a rally at 1 Police Plaza tomorrow at 12pm, demanding that NYPD do their job.
Oct. 25, 2011, 7:01 pm
Dylan says:
@elizabeth Your opinion is totally irrelevant because your from Canadia, so STFU and show some respect for the dead.
Oct. 26, 2011, 11:36 am
Stan from Williamsburg says:
I was hit by a motocylist going in the same direction during 'margarita sunday' afternoon in williamsburg on that lonesome stretch on the waterfront, not much traffic, no bike lane, but lots of gravel and glass to avoid ... a car slowed while I curved around some gravel, and a motorcylist tried to speed past on the right, not seeing me, until it was too late. Lucky to be alive. The police report lied, saying that I had been turning into the lane from a side-street. The driver had no insurance he claimed, and the police, who were also male and Latin, obviously decided to protect him. Helmut made no difference, you can't wear full body armor afterall .... but living in Berlin now that treat a bicycle as an equal form of transport to the car, and you rarely hear of accidents. Cars slow down, here are ALWAYS lanes on wide roadways, and even driver in large trucks seem to understand that cyclists are soft-bodied creatures, real humans and they are operating a vehicle that can kill ... so kudos to TA for leading the way to more bike paths in NYC.
Oct. 28, 2011, 1:26 pm
Rhys Bailey from Edmonton, Alberta says:
I was Mathieu's soccer coach for a part of his teenage years, team mates of his at the time brought this news to my attention today, he wa a good lad, I am sorry to hear this, my thoughts are with his family and friends.
Rhys Bailey
Nov. 6, 2011, 8:13 pm
Claire from Bushwichk says:
This is a crap, sad and stupid story. The truck drivers' drive much too fast and the drivers are sitting so high off the ground that its for sure that they do not see cyclists.
They should drive more carefully and its also for sure if you kill somebody whilst driving and flee the scene, you should be charged and face a prison sentence.

Motor vehicles are lethal weapons.
There should definitely be a lot more cycle lanes.

God bless Manet and Watteau.
Nov. 22, 2011, 2:20 pm
David from East Village says:
...and another thought for all us cyclists - it could be anyone of us...
Nov. 22, 2011, 2:59 pm
David from East Village says:

... that is a quote from Mathieu, by the way.
Nov. 22, 2011, 3:01 pm

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