Transit activists, City Councilor Antonio Reynoso and Brooklyn residents are gathering in Williamsburg on Monday evening to hold a vigil for Aurilla Lawrence, a 25-year-old bike messenger who was hit and killed by a truck on Thursday.
Lawrence was riding her bicycle on Broadway between Marcy Avenue and Rodney Street when, around 11:35 at night, a tanker truck fatally struck her and then fled the scene.
Transit activists say Broadway has long been known as a dangerous corridor for New York City cyclists and pedestrians, but has yet to be redesigned.
“In light of this tragic fatality, DOT will evaluate the crash location for potential further Vision Zero safety enhancements in addition to the bike infrastructure we have installed in the surrounding neighborhood,” a DOT spokesperson said in an email.
At Monday’s vigil, set to start at 5:30, activists with Transportation Alternatives, Families for Safe Streets and more are calling on New York City to do more to protect its cyclists and pedestrians.
NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan said at a Monday press conference that officials have a vehicle and driver of interest identified, with an individual scheduled to be interviewed by detections as part of the investigation. They are in the process of looking for additional video and also witnesses, he added.
NYPD ticket blitzes after cyclist deaths?
Lawrence’s death marks the fifth New York City bicyclist death so far in 2019. Only one person has so far been arrested in connection with those collisions, per NYPD.
This reality has angered New York City cyclists, as has the NYPD’s pattern of reportedly issuing more citations to cyclists in the wake of a death.
One cyclist did receive a ticket at the same Williamsburg intersection the morning after Lawrence’s death.
This is a ticket received by a cyclist the morning after @aurillagorilla‘s death. It’s the same intersection. This is what @nypd community policing still looks like in 2019, under @nycmayor BDB & #visionzero. There’s a vigil with speeches at the crash site at 530 pm Monday night. pic.twitter.com/2XuWJ5rKoE
— Austin Horse (@AustinHorse) March 4, 2019
“This is what NYPD community policing still looks like in 2019, under [Mayor Bill de Blasio] and vision zero,” one cyclists said, sharing an image of the summons, on Twitter.
NYPD confirmed that one summons was issued to a bicyclist in that area as part of increased enforcement of the area.
“Normally when we have a fatality at any location in the city…involving a vehicle and things of that nature, we will conduct a 72-hour enforcement plan at that particular location,” Chan said. “In the 72-hour plan we issued 33 summonses. One summons was issued to a bicyclist.”
The other 32 summonses were issued to vehicle drivers, according to Chan, but transit activists are still concerned that New York City cyclists are often under greater scrutiny than vehicle drivers.
“There seems to be a disconnect between the NYPD’s behavior and Vision Zero,” said Joe Cutrufo of Transportation Alternatives. “We have an epidemic of reckless driving on our streets, yet they’ve made a habit of ambushing people on bikes in the wake of crashes in which people on bikes are the victims.”