Bicycle Safety Advocates Demand More Information on Delancey Accident

Anytime a bicyclist is hurt or killed on the streets of Lower Manhattan, Bill di Paolo makes a point of getting to the scene as quickly as he possibly can. The founder and executive director of the environmental and bicycling advocacy organization, “Time’s Up,” di Paolo knows the value of first-hand observations in the moments after an accident. Last week, he arrived at the corner of Delancey and Ludlow streets not long after a fatal incident involving a bicyclist and a school bus.

Yesterday, DNA Info reported the victim was an East Village resident, Fuen Bai. Di Paolo wonders why it took the NYPD a week to release the woman’s name and why they have declined to release details about exactly what happened in the moments before Bai was killed. Di Paolo says the facts known so far simply don’t add up. He believes learning what occurred is critical to saving the lives of other bicyclists in New York City.

Bike Accident, Ludlow Street and Delancey, NYC 2010

Bike Accident, Ludlow Street and Delancey, NYC 2010

Photos by CS Muncy via Flickr

According to a NY1 report, Bai “hit a pothole and fell behind the bus, which then backed over her.” But di Paolo said he did not see any pothole on the east side of Delancey, near where the accident happened. There have been reports that she might have been riding on the sidewalk. Several days ago, a police spokesman told Streetsblog it was unlikely any charges would be filed against the bus driver. He would not confirm reports that onlookers shouted for the driver to stop just before the bus backed into Bai. “The driver remained on the scene. Looks like it was just an accident,” the spokesman said.

The author of the post, Ben Fried, wrote “whatever protocols may be at work here, it’s hard to see how the lack of transparency from NYPD is advancing public safety.”  Yesterday, Streetsblog reported that Manhattan’s new district attorney, Cy Vance, has promised to look into several recent incidents, including the Delancey Street tragedy. Vance’s office released a statement, saying:

“Traffic accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists are a serious concern in Manhattan, as the first week of 2010 showed. The District Attorney… has… instructed the DA’s Vehicular Crimes Unit to do its own review of last week’s traffic fatalities. The closer review of traffic accidents that cause serious injury or death will be a priority for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.”

Incidentally, the 7th Precinct did not respond to an email request from The Lo-Down last week seeking more information about the accident. But we’ll followup at their community council meeting tonight (730pm, 19 Pitt Street).

Organizations have been calling for protected bike lanes on Delancey for several years.

In 2008, bicyclist Rasha Shamoon was struck and killed by an SUV near the intersection of Delancey and the Bowery. In the aftermath of that accident, Transportation Alternatives launched a campaign for bike lanes on Delancey.

This morning, we spoke with Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3’s district manager about this most recent incident. She said the 7th Precinct has told her the investigation is ongoing. Stetzer said no residents or organizations have contacted CB3 about renewing calls for bike lanes or other safety measures.