Volume 77 / Number 32 Jan. 9 - 15, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

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Villager photo by Jefferson Siegel

Cyclists arrived at City Hall on Sunday as part of a memorial ride for New York City cyclists and pedestrians killed by vehicles in 2007.

Cyclists say city must shift gears on street safety in ’08

By Jefferson Siegel

A somber procession made its way through four boroughs on Sunday as bicyclists participated in the Third Annual Memorial Ride and Walk to honor New York City cyclists and pedestrians killed in 2007.

Three separate rides pedaled through the city, stopping at the sites where 23 cyclists lost their lives last year in traffic accidents. The three groups converged before pausing near the spot on the Manhattan Bridge where cyclist Sam Hindy, 27, was killed last November.

The group then proceeded to City Hall where they were joined by a dozen pedestrians who had marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in solidarity and sympathy.

One of the marchers was James Crouch, whose son, Joshua, was killed in the West Village in September 2006 in a still-unsolved vehicular hit-and-run. Joshua Crouch had been on foot.

“It’s a great thing to start the year off, because people are dying on the streets,” Crouch said as 200 cyclists arrived at City Hall. “I’m going to be an active part of this,” he added of bike activism in the city.

Rose Scorcia’s husband of 40 years, Franco, was killed by a tour bus while he was biking on Dec. 6 at 40th St. and Broadway. She stood watching the cyclists gather in front of a newly installed memorial white “ghost bike,” symbolizing those nine cyclists killed on the streets last year whose deaths did not make the news.

“I hope that the law changes for people who ride the bikes,” Scorcia said in a voice breaking with emotion. “I don’t want anyone to have to feel what I feel,” she added as cyclist Ellen Belcher comforted her.

Nat Meysenburg of Crown Heights, a member of the Street Memorial Project, which organized the memorial ride, stood by the ghost bike across from the entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge.

“One of our goals for this project is to make sure that these senseless and preventable tragedies are felt by the entire city,” Meysenburg said as cyclists stood quietly on the sidewalk.

At every stop throughout the day, a cyclist would pause and tell participants in the ride: “We ride with love in our hearts, with sadness for what has been lost, with rage that these crashes didn’t have to happen and hope that we never have to do this again.” The statement was repeated one last time as candles were lit in front of the City Hall ghost bike.

Then the cyclists lifted their bikes over their heads for a minute in silent tribute before filing inside the gates of City Hall Park. They filled the City Hall steps to listen to family members of the fallen speak.

Bill Talen walked through the metal detector without his Reverend Billy collar or persona.

“I was thinking about Eric Ng,” Talen said as he stood among the growing crowd. “He was so full of life; he was an energy source for everyone around him.” Ng was killed by a drunken driver on the Hudson River bike path at Clarkson St. in December 2006. Just last week, the driver, Eugenio Cidron, was sentenced to three and a half to 10 years in prison. Cidron — who reportedly was driving 60 miles per hour down the bike path when he hit Ng — is one of the few drivers to have been tried and convicted of the death of a cyclist.

Standing in front of the hundreds of cyclists gathered on the City Hall steps, Crouch noted, “There are signs in the West Village — $350 if you honk your horn. There are no $350 signs if you hit someone with a car.

“This city cares a whole lot about vehicles and not a lot about people who are walking. Let’s let traffic stop, finally, for the pedestrians,” he said.

The people on the steps held up white cardboard cutouts in the shape of a hand. They were intended to symbolize a call for traffic to stop overwhelming the streets, as well as for vehicles to stop and give priority to pedestrians and cyclists.

Ellen Foote, the mother of slain cyclist Sam Hindy, spoke calmly but forcefully through her grief.

“From the bottom of my anguished heart, I wish this were not happening,” she said in the hushed plaza. Foote is principal of Intermediate School 89 in Battery Park City.

There were 23 bicyclist deaths and more than 100 pedestrian deaths caused by motor vehicles in New York City in 2007. The goal of the Street Memorial Project is to cultivate a supportive community for survivors and friends of those killed on the streets, as well as to foster a mutual respect among cyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers.

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