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Memorial bike ride held for 19th cyclist killed in NYC this year, family and friends for swift street changes

2019-08-25

Cyclists participate in a Memorial bike ride from Prospect Park to Coney Island Avenue in remembrance of Jose Alzorriz on Sunday. (Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News)

Hundreds of family, friends, street safety advocates and elected officials took a memorial bicycle ride Sunday to honor Jose Alzorriz, a cyclist mowed down after a speeding muscle car blew a red light in Brooklyn — the 19th city rider killed this year.

The cyclists held a rally at Bartel-Pritchard Square near Prospect Park before riding to the intersection of Coney Island Ave. and Avenue L, where 52-year-old Alzorriz was killed Aug. 11, and where a white “ghost bike," flowers and photos now memorialize him.

The group’s message was simple: City officials must redesign streets so they’re less dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians.

“This is the third person I’ve lost to traffic violence over a 25-year span,” said Amanda Hannah-McLeer, 26, whose mother was Alzorriz’s partner. Her aunt and grandmother were also killed by a hit-and-run driver on Fort Hamilton Pkwy in 1994.

“We just thought this couldn’t happen to our family again.”

Alzorriz brought the grim death toll of New York cyclists to 19 — nearly double the 10 killed in all of 2018. He died after a Dodge Charger ran a red light, then crashed into an SUV that when flying into Alzorriz.

Cops last week charged Umar Mizra Baig, 18, of Rego Park, Queens, with manslaughter and other counts for allegedly sparking the crash.

Jonathan Blyer, 38, who was friends with Alzorriz for nearly 15 years, said the a painted bike lane isn’t enough: There needs to be a protected lane.

“Even if Jose was in a bike lane, it wouldn’t have saved him,” said Blyer. “We need a protected bike lane. If that had been the case on Coney Island Avenue, the vehicle that spun out of control and killed Jose would have struck a parked car, not Jose.”

Hannah-McLeer asserted the problem isn’t isolated to busy Coney Island Ave. “We need a 100% connected, protected bike lane,” she said. “As a fourth generation New Yorker, I can tell you out-of-date urban planning is nothing to be proud of.”

Alzorriz’s death came less than a month after Mayor de Blasio and city Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg unveiled a plan to expand the city’s network of protected bike lanes by the end of 2021, when hizzoner is set to leave office.

City Public Advocate Jumaane WIlliams accused de Blasio of spending too much time on his presidential campaign, and not enough on making the city’s streets safer. He encouraged the mayor to dump his quest for the White House.

“As far as I’m concerned at this moment in time, Vision Zero has failed to provide the protections to New Yorkers the way it said it would,” WIlliams said of the mayor’s initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities across the five boroughs. “Drivers mistakenly believe be own the road. Sometimes we don’t sit back and understand that we are the most protected people on the road, that we have the most dangerous weapon on the road.”

Data shows the Vision Zero program has had mixed results since it was launched in 2014. Traffic deaths have dropped to historic lows since then, but the number of car crashes and injuries caused by automobiles has increased.

New York has become one of just a few major cities in the country where cars are more deadly than guns, despite the fact that just one in four New Yorkers commute to work via private vehicles.