Police have released the name of the bicyclist killed in that horrible accident on Delancey Street yesterday afternoon. He is 52-year old Jeffrey Axelrod of Cobble Hill. Witnesses said he lost control of his bike, apparently due to a problem with the chain, struck the back of a tractor-trailer and then got dragged under the truck’s rear wheels. Axelrod was pronounced dead at the scene, shortly after the accident happened (around 5:30 p.m.) He was wearing a helmet.
Police said the driver of the truck (employed by ESG Transport of Inwood, Long Island) was not charged with any crime. Jose Martinez, another bicyclist, said he witnessed Axelrod going through the red light, as he turned right from Chrystie Street onto Delancey. Martinez told Gothamist “he spotted the victim on Chrystie Street moments (before the accident) having trouble with the bike’s chain.” A construction worker who commutes to Brooklyn daily he “urged cyclists to not take chances on the (dangerous Delancey) route: ‘When there is a red light here, you really just have to stop.’
Shortly after news of the accident broke last night, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer tweeted:
EV Grieve asked, “What are we going to do about Delancey?” And the New York Post pointed out that the tragedy happened “just 100 yards from the scene of another grisly accident (31-year old cyclist Rasha Shamoon was killed at Delancey and Bowery in 2008). Just a couple of weeks ago, the Daily News zeroed in on the nearby intersection of Delancey and Essex, noting that 134 accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists had occurred there in the past decade.
In the past, the Department of Transportation has sought to downplay the dangers on Delancey Street, saying that accident victims disobeyed traffic laws and that the city has taken steps to improve pedestrian safety in the area. For months now, they have been promising “countdown clocks” will soon be installed at several intersections along Delancey.
This point of view – that the street is not as dangerous as cycling advocates and Lower East Side residents think it is – was advanced by the DOT once again yesterday. The Village Voice reported:
The Department of Transportation points out… that this most recent incident happened near Chrystie Street, several blocks away from the Essex/Delancey intersection, and that there have been no fatalities there in the last five years, and one minor bike injury last year.
For several years bicycling advocates have been urging the city to install a protected bike lane along Delancey Street. At a Community Board 3 hearing last year, Department of Transportation officials made it clear it was not a priority. Instead, they suggested, bicyclists were being encouraged to avoid Delancey, in favor of Rivington/Prince and Grand streets to travel to the West Side. Recently, the 7th Precinct recommended “traffic calming” measures near the Williamsburg Bridge, an idea DOT rejected.