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Another Delancey Death, More Demands for Safety Improvements

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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.


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  1. This is ridiculous and not surprising. I live on Clinton Street, first right hand turn off the Williamsburg Bridge from Delancey and all these agressive drivers fly up the street way to fast and constantly drive in the bike lanes. They even honk at bikers in those reserved lanes which is completely illegal.

  2. Sadly cyclists will find a way to ride dumb no matter what the dot does. I’m sorry this man was killed, it may not have been his fault, but running red lights is not a good idea.

  3. Toll the Williamsburg Bridge, remove one lane in each direction on Delancey to add bike lanes behind parked cars, build pedestrian bridges at Clinton and Essex, install cameras to ticket each and every speeder and then perhaps we’ll have a human-scale, livable through-way in our neighborhood.

  4. If I want to see an accident happen, I walk over to Delancey and Chrystie and sit in the park there.  The last three times there were accidents.  One car rear ended another with a traffic cop in attendance at rush hour, a bike hit a pedestrian who walked into the bike lane(biker had the light), fender bender when car going west on Delancey turned south onto Chrystie (running the red light).  And I watch as fast bikes take the middle and either side of the road as their own personal bike path.  It’s crazy.  I never ride my bike on Delancey.  Too many trucks and too fast.

  5. Sadly, drivers of one-ton and above motorized vehicles will always find a way to drive illegally and unsafely no matter what they should do. It’s amazing, frankly, that more people are not killed daily, because running red lights and speeding through neighborhoods are not good ideas.

    So which argument is more compelling?

  6. Great ideas, all. Sadly, I don’t think the cameras for speeders will do much considering that traffic cops often practically encourage vehicles to speed to get onto the bridge, including running red lights. I once had to ask a traffic cop if he was going to eventually let us cross the street and stop waving cars through the red lights (leaving the 10 second pedestrian walk light available for all of 3 or so).

  7. Large trucks have limited visibility and limited braking ability and yet they always seem to exceed the speed limit and drive beyond their limitations. This accident may not have been the truckers fault but it always seems that there is a large truck involved in these bike accidents. 

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