Advocates blame city after car fatally strikes bicyclist in Marine Park

Brooklyn Paper
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Pro-bike advocates are condemning the city for unsafe road conditions in Southern Brooklyn after the driver of an SUV fatally struck a bicyclist in Marine Park on Sunday night.

The deceased biker, 29-year-old Robert Sommer, was attempting to cross Avenue U, near E. 33rd Street, when the driver of a 2014 Toyota Highlander hit him shortly after 8 p.m. on May 12, police said.

First responders took the cyclist to nearby New York Community Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

Sommer’s death marks the eighth bicyclist killed in a car accident this year, and the fourth in Southern Brooklyn, according to advocacy group Bike South Brooklyn, which used the tragedy to lament the lack of bike lanes in the area.

“That half of the fatalities have occurred in Southern Brooklyn is the entirely predictable result of the city government and local officials abandoning people on bikes here and never taking serious measures to improve the bike network or cycling safety,” the group said in a statement.

Another advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, laid blame squarely on the mayor for the absence of bike lanes in Kings County’s traditionally car heavy neighborhoods like Marine Park, which lacks any dedicated cyclist paths on neighborhood roads, according to the Department of Transporta­tion’s bike lane map.

“This is a tragedy which Mayor Bill de Blasio could have easily prevented with protected bike lanes installed as part of a complete network of cycling infrastruc­ture,” said the group’s advocacy director Thomas DeVito. “Despite the huge percentage of New Yorkers who ride bikes, and the proven lifesaving capability of protected bike lanes, Southern Brooklyn residents have little to no access to streets safe for cycling, and they are being disproportionately impacted.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at
Updated 2:02 pm, May 13, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Condolences to the family. But this one time a maniac on a bicycle almost whizzed by me and nearly almost hit me! A couple meters closer and I could have been scraped up pretty bad. That's months of pain and suffering until the scabs heal, If he would have hit me.
May 13, 2019, 1:20 pm
Henry Finkelstein from Kings Bay/ sheepshead Bay says:
Bicycle apologists and advocates are always making excuses for the unsafe and dangerous riding habits of their followers like going out after dark without the proper headlights ,rear reflection and audio warning devices like bells to keep all sidewalkers and other street users safe. Us pedestrians also need protected pedestrian paths on all sidewalks. Issue licenses for all two wheel use in the city and require safety instruction and liability insurance for their use. Why don't the political leadership and media of out fair city support the vast majority of us sidewalkers instead of the special interest bicyclists?
May 13, 2019, 1:28 pm
Mai Dai from GravesEnd says:
HF is totally right. I get hit in the dark by speeding bikers all the time. and with no lights, they can't be seen till it is too late.
May 13, 2019, 1:31 pm
Someone with a brain says:
Motorist kills a cyclist, but let’s cry about a cyclist’s bad habits . This is the mentality of this idiotic comment section. Will you cry the same tripe when you’re mowed down by an SUV?
May 13, 2019, 1:37 pm
Susan Rosenfeld from Sheepshead Bay says:
To Henry Finkelstein, According to the police, the biker was wearing a reflective vest and had the right of way. In this case, it was the driver's fault completely. Yes, there are reckless bikers, but there are many more reckless drivers. A child standing right next to his mother in the crosswalk with the green light was killed in Gravesend a little more than a week ago.
May 13, 2019, 1:46 pm
Henry Finkelstein from Kings Bay /Sheepshead Bay says:
So the scarecrow tries to switch the topic. All rules of the road should be enforced. Driving licences should be issued to two as well as 4 wheel drivers. and liability insurance must be maintained by bicyclists as well. Someone with a brain should try using it for a change.
May 13, 2019, 1:49 pm
Edsel Ford from Detroit says:
Hey Mai Dai, maybe you shouldn’t be walking around in the dark if you can’t see what’s around you, especially since it happens ‘all the time’, duh! Maybe YOU should carry a flashlight, ever think of that?
May 13, 2019, 1:50 pm
Peter Pyle from Prospect Park. says:
And last week a woman was run down by a By a biker in Manhattan running a red lite and was left brain dead. Biker not even charged with a crime. woman eventually died. Lets hear from the pedestrians of our city who are the real majority and the real victims. For the record. I do not drive a car or even have a license . To get anywhere , i walk about 95% of the time.
May 13, 2019, 1:55 pm
Alex from NYC says:
I wonder how TA came to the conclusion that a protected bike lane would have saved this cyclist? None of the reports mention exactly what happened. Did the cyclist neglect to stop at a red light or a stop sign? Did the driver neglect to stop at a stop or red light?
May 13, 2019, 1:56 pm
Shirley Ranz from Gravesend says:
Edsel Ford gives the true Transportation Alternative answer to unsafe pedal pushing. Time for protected pedestrian paths sor sidewalkers to keep us safe from pedal pusher s like Edsel.
May 13, 2019, 1:59 pm
Shirley Ranz from Gravesend says:
Someone with a brain can't argue logically and resorts to making gun of an ethnic name which is a form of anti-Semitism and should never be tolerated
May 13, 2019, 2:02 pm
Henry Finkelstein from Sheepshead Bay says:
Referring to my obvious Jewish heritage name as fecalstain is an ethnic insult and a vile form of anti-Semitism which should not be tolerated by anyone in our ethnically diverse boro of Brooklyn
May 13, 2019, 2:09 pm
Mai Dai from Gravesend/homecrest says:
Ever since Bloomberg became mayor,the city has given the bicycle lobby every thing it has demanded without having to spend one additional cent out of their collective pockets and at the expense of the pedestrian community and public transportation. Politicians and the media just don't care about the majority of us and listens only to special interests instead.
May 13, 2019, 2:25 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
That's enough outta you, fecalstain.
May 13, 2019, 2:34 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
@ Peter Pyle, you make a good point. There have three pedestrians killed by cyclists since 2009 & this makes the eighth cyclist killed on New York City streets this year by a motorist. Not including pedestrians killed by motorists. I'm sorry, did you have a point?
May 13, 2019, 2:39 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
@ Alex from NYC, According to police, the victim was crossing Avenue U near East 33rd Street when he was struck by the 20-year-old driver of a Toyota Highlander at around 8:00 p.m. The cyclist was found in the roadway with severe head trauma. He was rushed to New York Community Hospital in Midwood, where he was pronounced dead. read the actual full story here:
May 13, 2019, 2:42 pm
Someone with a brain says:
Shirley Ranz isn't too swift. I made a point and it went over your empty head. Again I ask, Will you cry the same tripe about a bicycle on a sidewalk when you’re mowed down by an SUV? Anyone over the age of 12 should not be riding on the sidewalk, that's the law. I hate when I see an adult riding on the sidewalk, but I'd rather be hit by a bicycle than a car.
May 13, 2019, 2:54 pm
Mai Dai from Gravesend says:
Dangerous and Careless bicyclists can break my bones when they push their pedals but their insults can never intimidate or browbeat me in any way like they push around politicians and the media.
May 13, 2019, 3:02 pm
Someone with a brain says:
An SUV will kill you, numbnuts.
May 13, 2019, 3:04 pm
Ranz from Sheepshead bay says:
In direct answer to the brain. I will not cry when I have been mowed down by a SUV because i probably will be dead. Isn't that obvious? Don't we all really hate stupid rhetorical questions. my point of view will never be changed by those who use their privileged position to push us around. the Pedestrians united will not be defeated
May 13, 2019, 3:07 pm
Henry Finkelstein from Kings Bay says:
I would not mind if Brain was hit by a car or a bicycle. He obviously has no regard to sidewalkers like us. His choice of language comes right out of the playbook of Donald Trump Tweets. He probably uses a bike too.
May 13, 2019, 3:10 pm
Someone with a brain says:
You people are the dumbest I've even encountered. How do you dress yourselves in the morning?
May 13, 2019, 3:13 pm
Someone with a brain says:
I would not mind if finklestain was run over and killed by an undocumented delivery guy, who ironically was delivering his Chinese food order.
May 13, 2019, 3:24 pm
Butterfly from Bergen beach says:
You people do not know the facts instead of criticizing this kid . Pray for his family and friends. This kids went to school with daughter for elementary and high school. A good kid hard worker . How dare you said nasty things . Rip Robert
May 13, 2019, 3:42 pm
Someone with a brain says:
Agreed with Butterfly, another senseless death because of a motorists and these idiots are whining about bicycles. SMDH.
May 13, 2019, 3:51 pm
Ben from Brooklyn says:
again again again and will say it again, most of the bikers are not following rules and regulations and need to be locked up..... it's about time taking care of business,
May 13, 2019, 3:59 pm
Someone with a brain says:
@ Ben, What the hell does that have to do with "car fatally strikes bicyclist in Marine Park"? Critical thinking is not your sport, nor is simple grammar. I swear the dumb people here are like those dum dum trump supporters who cry, "what about her emails?!?!?!!"
May 13, 2019, 4:26 pm
Mai Dai from homecrest says:
Bicyclists whine with the best of them. They can dish it out but they can't take it. They are nothing but a privileged class that have the ear of politicians , the media and special interests.
May 13, 2019, 6:08 pm
Mai Dai from homecrest says:
Someone with a brain can't intimidate me with his dumb commentary that will never budge me from my views. I have the support of the pedestrians who in case he does not know it are the majority and eventually we will win.
May 13, 2019, 6:10 pm
Esma Husejnovic from South Bronx says:
I just would like to say rip to Rob he was a dear friend to my hs buddy which name is rob as well . It’s so sad and me as a biker 🚴‍♀️ as well it’s difficult to get by because need if we wear all the gear and lights the cars see us but just wanna kill us . Not everyone can afford a car and all the pricey expenses that’s why we ride so , if you do see a biker 🚴‍♀️ give them space to ride don’t try to —— with them . It has happened to me as well in The Bronx they don’t care about us bikers and drive over the speed limit and as if they want to kill anyone they don’t care who and how it affects someone’s life . These drivers aren’t even good enough to drive : text while driving , liquor dui , no I contact , loud music 🎶, drugs ,
May 14, 2019, 3:21 am
Jack from Marine Park says:
The protected bike lane in this area would not have changed anything. Just look at Ave V when it rains; that bike path is completely flooded for another two days. It forces cyclists to ride on the narrower road with cars. As a cyclist in this area, this area is better off without the bike lanes installed in the gutter.
May 14, 2019, 8:22 am
Martin Malakov from Coney Island says:
to the bike advocates, The fault lies in yourselves . The more paths you get, the more dangerously you will pedal and more fatalities will occur. Learn to pedal safely first, and then complain. We pedestrians, are waiting for your insult driven diatribe response.
May 14, 2019, 12:58 pm
Shaddap says:
Hey Martin, cry me a river. The more roads motorists get, the more carnage they create.
May 14, 2019, 1:19 pm
Shaddap says:
All you idiots whining about bicycles in response to a motorist taking a life. That’s some mental gymnastics.
May 14, 2019, 1:21 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I can see that the bike zealots and anti-car fanatics are out in full force here. Please try to understand why there are those who see through Transportation Alternatives and not how. For the most part, it's because they hardly ever call out cyclists who flout the laws even if they were placing themselves into harm's way. There were even times when they condoned such actions they committed, while at other times they try to turn a blind eye and dodge that issue altogether. Other times they even try to downplay such actions just like how the NRA does with shootings or even how pro-Palestinian groups does with terrorist attacks by Hamas. Nobody is saying that they deserve to be hit, but that doesn't excuse them from flouting traffic laws, and I have never heard anyone from that group ever call for bicycle safety even once. If anything, they try to call to be exempt from all laws while making everyone who drives to be subject to them hence the Animal Farms reference. Some of the statements from such here claiming that because a motor vehicle kills more and is more dangerous can almost be equated to those pro-Palestinian groups on claiming that the Israel Defense Force kills more and therefore more of a terrorist organization than Hamas will ever be especially without giving the whole story of what really happened, but that's besides the point. On a side note, I wouldn't be surprised if some of those who coming in defense of such cyclists are either paid shills from Transportation Alternatives or even just one person using different names to make themselves have bigger numbers.
May 14, 2019, 2:57 pm
Casey from Bergen Beach says:
Really a tragedy, and telling that so many people take this as an opportunity to insult cyclists instead of dealing with the clearly unsafe streets we have. Ave U is terrible. We don't need highways on the street level.
May 14, 2019, 5:25 pm
Tony from Mill Basin says:
Tal, the people that are born and bred in Brooklyn despise interloping gentrifiers like Transportation Alternatives that come into our neighborhoods and demand that we immediately conform to their whims. They will get nowhere in real Brooklyn.
May 14, 2019, 5:48 pm
Wilbur D. Horse from Que Sera Sera says:
This article provides absolutely no details about how the deceased came into contact with the car. There is no way to determine where fault lies. Having said that, it is sad to see a young chap leave this world.
May 15, 2019, 5:42 am
Tony from Mill Basin says:
Time to close the comments, taltheretard is here! I love putting it in my sister too!
May 15, 2019, 10:28 am
Rose Engel from Mill Basintony says:
Tony, Transportation Alternatives was invited to look at the problems cyclists have to deal with in Mill Basin. Maybe, you are not aware but hundreds of your neighbors in yes, Mill Basin depend on bicycles to get around. All of Brooklyn is the " real Brooklyn". According to the police the driver was at fault here, not the cyclist. The young man who died lost his life because of someone's carelessness.
May 15, 2019, 2:36 pm
Rose Engel from Mill Basin says:
Tony, I am certain if you asked your neighbors you would quite a few use bicycles to get around doing errands and if they work in Brooklyn to get to their jobs.
May 15, 2019, 3:01 pm
Tony from Mill Basin says:
Of course Transportation Alternatives was “invited” into Mill Basin by one or two car hating cranks. You can’t find 50 people that commute by bike here but here come the car hating fanatics, they always magically appear to take advantage of any tragedy to shove their agenda down everyone’s throats. No thanks Chad, we like our cars and our parking here. Take your skinny jeans wearing stick figure ass back to Willyb dude.
May 15, 2019, 3:35 pm
Rose Engel from Mill Basin says:
Transportation Alternatives was invited by many of your neigbhbors ( yes, many). You can find many more than 50 residents of your neighborhood on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon doing their errands by bike. They are not car hating fanatics, they are just people looking for an easy way to get around. Yes, it was a tragedy that would have not happened if that driver had cared about what he was doing. Cyclists do not have an agenda, they just want to travel just as you do. I'm glad you like your cars, they like their bikes just as much.
May 15, 2019, 3:49 pm
Batz from Bay Ridge says:
The "need protected pedestrian paths" comment here really takes the cake. Those are called sidewalks. They exist already. Adult bikers don't belong on them and rarely are on them unless the street is very dangerous or cobblestone. The best way to ensure a "protected pedestrian path" is to put a protected bike lane next to it.
May 15, 2019, 4:20 pm
Barry from Dyker Heights says:
As a bicyclist [and for the record BORN AND RAISED IN BROOKLYN], I agree more bike lanes need to be put in, especially in areas with dense populations and drivers. I read in a previous comment that "two-wheeled" modes of transportation shoulder require licensing? I don't understand how they truly think that it's a feasible option. Not only is NYC one of the cities in America where there are more transplants than natives, but to think that bicycles should have to be registered and/or licensed? So kids should be required to get a license to learn how to ride a bike? Or the city should make EVEN MORE money off of licensing and not use it to the benefit of bicycle roads? That's a ridiculous claim, and being in a place where there are roughly 500,000 people using cycling as transportation DAILY, and many illegals who ride bicycles, licensing purely is NOT an option. If this were to exist, where would we even file for licensing? The Department of No-Motored Vehicles? The New York State Law for drivers, requires drivers to "see what there is to be seen", and if he or she couldn't do that, then he or she is responsible for the death of this man. The city is very responsible as well, and the family of the victim SHOULD make a claim against them, for not taking steps in a highly populated city to create evenly distributed bicycle lanes around the borough. To reiterate, I am a bicyclist for over 15 years, and prefer the use of bicycles over any other mode of transportation. Tony, if you have children, I hope this tragedy never occurs to them, because you claim that you cannot find 50 people who bike in Mill Basin? I know plenty of people who use their bicycle as a mode of transportation from Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, and Georgetown. We don't hate cars, but for many reasons, bicycles are the better mode of transportation, not only for people, but the economy and the environment. Martin, give one piece of concise evidence that proves your statement. The truth is you can't because it's an opinion. I am not a mean person, but to all the people saying it's the bicyclists' fault, if that was your child would you have the same thoughts? If your child was killed by a person in a vehicle that's 150+ times the weight, that will get to their destination faster, and that will not do their due diligence as a driver, you would have a completely different view. Henry, you absolutely have no idea how society works if you think that bicycles should be registered and insured. I can say with almost certainty that the damage of being hit by a cyclist, and the damage of being hit by a driver, are completely different and should not comparable. Besides that, any person with an education past second grade can realize that a 1.5 ton (3000 pounds for those who can't do math) piece of metal will be more dangerous than a 20 pound (that's very heavy for a bicycle by the way). Bicyclists should be more aware of their surrounds, and abide by the rules of the road, but in no way can any normal, educated person really believe that these two are the same in any way, shape, or form. I spent 30 minutes reading, researching and writing this comment. Use your brains, work smarter, not harder.
May 15, 2019, 4:54 pm
Tony from Mill Basin says:
I also have a bike and frequently ride out to Rockaway on weekends. It’s a lot of fun. All sane people want people on bicycles to be able to ride safely, others use horrible tragedies to further their anti car agenda. Nothing will satisfy those people beside the removal of all parking and eventually cars themselves.
May 15, 2019, 5:22 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Go back to Ohio, Tony.
May 15, 2019, 6:20 pm
Brooklyn Born & Living from Mill Basin says:
RIP - Robert... let us pay respects to your life, Honor your Family & Friends now as we celebrate your life. I will attend your wake later today, as all who commented should as well. Thank you to our new Marine Park State Senator for bringing special attention to training for new drivers, and supporting life! Let your Bill go forward to Honor all lives lost, while saving others! Let’s continue this positive movement of shared commute for Walkers, Cyclists (like Robert) and Vehicle drivers. All of which I am. To the reporter & paper covering this important topic, let’s continue to have this important dialogue. We can all agree within these comments if we all care about sharing the road correctly, while raising awareness for the importance of one’s life like “Robert”. To be continued, after we bury our friend.
May 16, 2019, 2:40 am
Dawn from Marine Park says:
There is a bike path on the opposite side of the street there that leads into a bike lane that completely disrupted the parking and created multiple hazards for drivers and pedestrians. I've never seen anyone use the "absolutely necessary " bike lane.
May 16, 2019, 4:17 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says: High alert Brooklyn: To Voicer Nick Portantiere: I, too, have witnessed and almost struck a cyclist while driving. It was a scary, eye-opening experience that left my heart racing knowing that I could have killed him because of his stupidity. Let’s not forget all the scooters, electric bicycles, and all those who drive them with no plates, no insurance, and no regard for the rules of the road. I witnessed one nut cross a multi-corner intersection on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic with a passenger on the back. I wish I had a camera on my car. When will they be held accountable for these types of violations? Dorothy Collins
May 16, 2019, 12:09 pm
Benny from Park Slope says:
Terrible to hear about this man's death. NYC has to do a LOT more to make the streets safer for bikes and hold drivers accountable (if they're at fault) in deadly accidents like this. HOWEVER -- the number of idiots I see on bikes in my nabe, riding around at night with no lights, no helmets, and often with children on the bikes (!), on 6th Avenue, which is *notorious* for speeding and crappy drivers and has NO bike lanes -- I just have very little sympathy for entitled a-holes who refuse to live in the real world where cars, for better or worse, own the roads. Until bikes own the roads -- use your f$%&ing lights and don't ride with your kids at night. Wake the f#$% up. Jeezus.
May 20, 2019, 10:22 am
Susan Silverstein from Homecrest says:
Mai Dai, Mai, Dais your neighborhood,Homecrest, Gravesend has many residents who use bikes especially on the weekends to get around. They find it much more convenient than a car, no parking issues and usually faster. Though some bikers yes, are reckless the majority do bike safely. The driver in this case in Mill Basin was ultimately arrested for driving reckless and needlessly causing a death. The biker in was riding safely.
May 20, 2019, 3:20 pm
Robert Levine from Sheepshead Bay says:
Biking is not a "yuppie thing". It is popular all over Brooklyn. My neighbors in Sheepshead Bay bike all over and some even to Manhattan to their jobs almost every day weather permitting. Mai Dai, please just look around your own neighborhood.
May 21, 2019, 7:52 am
BakiShamil from Bay Ridge says:
June 4, 2019, 10:49 am

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