18th NYC cyclist is dead, after Sunset Park, Brooklyn, fatality

A police officer removes the bicycle ridden by a cyclist who was struck and killed on Third Avenue in Sunset Park on Monday.
A police officer removes the bicycle ridden by a cyclist who was struck and killed on Third Avenue in Sunset Park on Monday. Photo Credit: Vincent Barone

Another cyclist was killed on Monday while riding along a busy Brooklyn avenue.

Em Samolewicz, 30, was cycling north on Third Avenue in Sunset Park, when she was struck and killed by the driver of a commercial tractor trailer heading in the same direction around 9 a.m., according to the police department. 

Samolewicz, of Brooklyn, was attempting to maneuver around an open door of a parked car near the intersection of 36th Street when she was hit, police said. She was taken to NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn, where she was pronounced dead.

The 37-year-old driver of the truck remained at the scene and a police investigation is ongoing, according to the NYPD.

Samolewicz’s death marked the 18th cyclist fatality in a tragic year for city biking. The city is on pace to more than double the 10 cycling deaths that occurred in all of 2018 — and cycling injuries are also on pace to rise.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said the state of cycling in the city was an “emergency” and a “crisis.” Last week, he announced a new $58.4 million, five-year plan to install 150 miles of protected bike lanes and implement other bike-friendly infrastructure and policies.

"We can never look at such a moment like this and think we can do things the same way," de Blasio said at the time.

Some advocates and many cyclists have criticized the mayor’s plan as still too timid and believe his efforts to protect bikers while abating growing auto use in New York City lack urgency. 

Monday’s cycling death was the second to occur on Third Avenue this year. The first took place under similar circumstances; Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia, a delivery cyclist, was struck and killed on Third Avenue in January after getting doored by a parked car not even 10 blocks away from Monday’s crash. The majority of 2019’s cycling fatalities have occurred in Brooklyn.

Third Avenue is not fit for safe cycling, according to advocates. Transportation Alternatives deputy director Ellen McDermott said the avenue is "incompatible" with the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic deaths.

"Third Avenue, which has eight lanes for cars and zero for bikes, is a product of a bygone era when transportation decisions were made with the sole intention of moving as many vehicles as possible through our neighborhoods," McDermott said in a statement, adding, "without regard to the people living and working in those neighborhoods."

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