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.