A deadly crash in Queens has sparked heated discussions about bicycle safety in New York City. As Gothamist reports, a 35-year-old delivery worker driving a motorized scooter, Alfredo Cabrera Liconia, “was killed by the driver of a Bud Light truck” last Thursday. Video of the incident shows Liconia’s Scooter “trapped under the wheels of the semi-truck, which appears to be making a right turn onto Crescent Street.” The collision occurred while the driver “appeared” to be turning right from Astoria Boulevard to Crescent Street, where trucks are not permitted unless they’re making deliveries. Gothamist reports that it was not clear whether Liconia was using the bike lane when struck.
One image of the truck reportedly captured it “crushing the flexible posts” separating the lane from vehicle lanes. These “flexi-posts” have been criticized by cycling accidents as too insubstantial to prevent vehicles from passing into protected bicycle lanes. A group of local lawmakers reportedly asked the city’s department of Transportation to replace the flexi-posts with “concrete jersey barriers” as a way of protecting cyclists from cars.
A local Assemblyman-elect, Zohran Mamdani, helped organize that effort, and told Gothamist: “What we know without a doubt is this massive truck turned into Crescent Street and entered into the bike lane. What we have called for would’ve disincentivized this turn from ever happening… It doesn’t matter that Alfredo was driving a scooter, it doesn’t matter whether he was in a bike lane or adjacent, because the improvements we demanded were to save the lives of pedestrians, cyclists, people on scooters and drivers.”
The protected bike lane on Astoria Boulevard was reportedly installed as part of New York City’s “Green Wave plan” to establish a protected, two-way bicycle lane between the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and the Queensborough Bridge. Traffic safety activists suggested that while admirable, the lane did not have the degree of “protection initially promised by the DOT.”
One advocacy group, Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement to Gothamist that New York City prioritized motorists over the safety of its citizens: “While street safety advocates fought for and won a two-way protected bike lane on Crescent Street in Queens, the Department of Transportation chose to deploy nothing more than flexible plastic delineator posts to separate people on bikes and scooters from multi-ton motorized vehicles,” he said, accusing the protected bike lane of failing to provide protection. As Gothamist notes, approximately half of the city’s 208 traffic-related deaths in 2020 have been incidents involving either pedestrians or cyclists.