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Long Island City cyclist struck, killed in sixth biking death of 2019

Cycling deaths are on pace to far surpass the 10 total recorded in 2018, according to city data.

A cyclist riding on Borden Avenue in Queens

A cyclist riding on Borden Avenue in Queens Thursday morning was struck and killed, according to police. Photo Credit: @LICWalkers

A Long Island City cyclist was struck and killed just blocks from his home Thursday morning, marking the sixth biking death in New York City this year.

Robert Spencer, 53, was biking west on Borden Avenue at around 7:51 a.m. when he was hit by a driver heading south on Second Street near Hunter’s Point South Park, according to an NYPD spokeswoman.

Spencer was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the spokeswoman said. His listed address was a two-minute ride from the intersection where he was struck.

The 51-year-old driver, in a Chevy Cruz, whom police did not identify, remained at the scene, according to the NYPD spokeswoman. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Spencer’s death is the latest in what has been a tragic 2019 for city cyclists. Deaths are on pace to far surpass the 10 cycling fatalities in all of 2018, according to city data.

A DOT spokeswoman said in a statement that, "with regards to this recent tragedy, DOT will look into potential safety enhancements at Borden Ave. and Second Street, as we do following any fatality."

Advocates responded to the death by calling for the city to more quickly install bike-centric infrastructure across the five boroughs. 

“Borden Avenue connects the southern end of the Long Island City waterfront with the Vernon Boulevard business district and the Pulaski Bridge," said Tom DeVito, of Transportation Alternatives, in a statement. "The block where this crash occurred is the weak link in an otherwise protected bike lane network along Center Boulevard and Second Street."

Locals at the Murano Condominium Association had written to city officials just weeks before the crash to request a two-way protected bike lane along Borden Ave. in Hunter's Point, according to a report in Patch. Local Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer followed up with a letter to the city dated March 4.

“Another awful tragedy. Another life lost. Another family shattered. We cannot normalize traffic violence and deaths. They cannot be a forgone conclusion. Cyclists deserve safety on our city’s roads like everyone else,” Van Bramer said in a series of tweets.

“It’s long past time to hold reckless drivers accountable and to invest in sustainable transportation infrastructure like protected bike lanes to better ensure the safety of all New Yorkers and to prevent any more needless loss of life,” he added.

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