STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Following the death of cyclist Zudi Daci, 79, of Bulls Head, who was found unconscious and unresponsive following a collision with a 2000 Ford pick-up truck Friday Morning, transit advocates are hoping the city’s open streets plan will deliver a “new approach” to how roads are used.
Transportation Alternatives — one of the city’s leading transit advocacy groups — said the opening of New York City streets for pedestrians and cyclists amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can offer a chance to “take back our streets.”
“For decades, pedestrians and cyclists have been fighting for survival on a network of streets that prioritizes the free flow of multi-ton machines over human life,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris in a written statement.
“But today, as our city begins to emerge from the pandemic, we have an opportunity to take back our streets so businesses can reopen, so we can safely travel where we need to go, and like Zudi Daci, who had only recently started biking for exercise, so we can stretch our legs and get some fresh air while sticking to physical distancing guidelines,” Harris said.
Daci, who was the fourth cyclist to die on New York City streets in 2020, was driving westbound on Signs Road, toward Richmond Avenue, when a Ford F-250 pickup struck him while making a left turn, according to a preliminary NYPD investigation.
On Saturday, police announced they arrested Faustino Garcia, 43, of Tottenville and charged him with second-degree Aggravated Unlicensed Operator and failure to use due care. Attorney information for Garcia was not immediately available.
“Large vehicles, like the Ford F-250 pickup involved in Friday’s crash, are used in a disproportionate number of serious crashes on New York City streets,” Harris said in his statement.
“To date in 2020, all four of the cyclists who lost their lives were struck by either trucks or SUVs. This crash should serve as a reminder of the incredible responsibility that comes with operating a motorized vehicle, especially one that weighs upwards of 6,000 pounds, and especially in a densely-populated city.”
While only four cyclist deaths have been logged this year, 2019 was an especially dangerous year for New York City cyclists — with 29 people, including 17-year-old Staten Islander Alex Cordero — dying as a result of crashes, Gothamist reported.
The mayor and the Department of Transportation have created more than 40 miles of open streets, and they are on track to reach 100 miles of open streets across the five boroughs by the end of summer,” Harris said. “As this transformation takes shape, we look forward to working together to ensure that this ambitious Open Streets program delivers a new approach to how we use our streets — an approach that restores value to human life.”
After the city closed down nearly a mile of streets to vehicle traffic between Forest Avenue and Victory Boulevard around Silver Lake Park and another half-mile of roadway on Front Street, between Canal Street and Edgewater Street in early May, a portion of that closure has sparked pushback from Island politicians, civic groups and businesses.
The Front Street closure created angst from those who said the closure hurt business in the area and only benefitted people living in the upscale Urby apartment complex who already have access to the adjacent Stapleton Waterfront Park.
Shortly after, the Mayor reassessed the closure and reopened the portion of Front Street it closed to traffic and instead created a space for pedestrians and cyclists at a stretch of Bank Street off of Richmond Terrace between Jersey Street and the former New York Wheel parking garage off of Nicholas Street, the Advance/SILive.com previously reported.
The city’s plan is to close down 40 miles of city streets over the course of the next month with the goal of closing up to 100 miles of streets, opening them up to pedestrians and cyclists during the coronavirus pandemic.