Cyclist’s death inspires 1,000 signatures on petition for redesign of Coney Island Ave.

A car crash killed a cyclist at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L in Brooklyn on Aug. 11.
A car crash killed a cyclist at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L in Brooklyn on Aug. 11. Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Getty Images

A Change.org petition is calling on the city to redesign Coney Island Avenue following the tragic death of cyclist Jose Alzorriz.

The petition, created by Sandra Cotuna, implores the city Department of Transportation to build a protected bike lane “that uses planters, curbs or posts to separate the bike and automobile traffic” along the wide corridor, which currently features four lanes for moving traffic, turning bays and dedicated space for cycling. The document also argues the street should be redesigned in a way that would slow vehicles down and that cameras should be used to monitor speeding, illegal parking and right of way violations. The city can use cameras to enforce red-light running anywhere and speeding near schools. 

More than 1,000 people have signed the petition since its creation on Friday.

“In memory of Jose Alzorriz, the 19th cyclist killed this year, we demand that the Department of Transportation immediately and unequivocally take action and expedite the planned traffic safety study of Coney Island Avenue,” Cotuna wrote.

Alzorriz, 52, of Park Slope, was struck and killed in a chain-reaction crash in Midwood last Sunday. Alzorriz was waiting on his bike during a red light at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L, when an 18-year-old driver of a Dodge sedan flew through a red light, t-boning another driver in a Honda. The force of the crash was so strong that the Honda careened off the road, striking Alzorriz as the car hurtled onto the sidewalk.

The DOT declined to directly comment, but a spokesperson noted the agency has implemented several smaller-scale projects in the corridor and has selected Coney Island Avenue for further study.

The city has struggled to address what has been a tragic year for cyclists. Since January, 19 bicyclists have died, while the city recorded 10 such fatalities in all of last year. In response to the growing number of deaths, the city unveiled a five-year “Green Wave” program last month that will increase the number of bike lanes and other bike-friendly street treatments. The plan does not highlight Coney Island Avenue as a “potential protected bike corridor.”

Advocates and elected officials have focused attention on Coney Island Avenue after Alzorriz’s death. Those types of wide streets, which are common in southern Brooklyn, are incongruous with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero traffic safety initiative, advocates have said.

"People are uncomfortable on a street like Coney Island Avenue," said Joe Cutrufo, a spokesman for Transportation Alternatives, after the crash last week. "It’s a street designed for cars, a street designed to make it easy for traveling in a vehicle at a high rate of speed and nothing else."

Many of those who signed the petition expressed support for Alzorriz.

“In loving memory of Jose Alzorriz. A great man that was taken way too soon from so many people!” one wrote.

“Jose, you were so loved and will never be forgotten,” signed another.