The death of a cyclist struck and killed by a box truck driver in Queens has renewed concerns about unprotected bike lanes in New York City. According to news reports, the 58-year-old man, Qiang Tu, was riding down 47th Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens when the truck driver traveling in the same direction hit him as he made a turn onto 47th Street. The 33-year-old truck driver, Shakai Waye, was reportedly driving with a suspended license, and was charged with Aggravated Unlicensed Operator, according to the Sunnyside Post. Tu was taken to the Elmhurst Hospital Center, but “couldn’t be saved,” according to Yahoo! News.
As a report by StreetsBlog describes, the stretch of road where Tu was riding “does not have a bike lane, but only sharrows”—that is, painted arrows indicating that cyclists must share the road with vehicle drivers. Transit safety advocacy group Transportation Alternatives observed to StreetsBlog that the truck driver “was operating off a legal truck route,” as was the case with a driver in a Williamsburg crash earlier last week that injured someone riding a moped.
In a statement about the incident, a Transportation Alternatives organizer said in part: “Qiang Tu’s life could have been saved if Mayor de Blasio prioritized people over parking. Instead, even though he was biking along a so-called ‘designated bike route,’ there is zero physical protection from deadly cars here, only painted sharrows on the road… Paint is not protection.”
According to a report by Patch, Tu is the fourth cyclist “killed by a driver in Northwest Queens during 2021.” There have reportedly been 16 cyclists among the 230 traffic fatalities so far in 2021. Tu started riding his bicycle to avoid the risk of catching Covid-19 in enclosed spaces, reported Yahoo! News. “He was scared of the enclosed areas, like the subway or bus, because of COVID-19,” his wife told the publication. “He was thinking it was safe, but all of a sudden it happened.”