BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The electric CitiBike rider who fatally struck Priscilla Loke in Chinatown last month has faced a consequence…
…Police have slapped him with a ticket for running a red light.
Maybe it will be for a couple hundred bucks — a few hundred dollars for a life cut short.
But to family and friends of the beloved 69-year-old preschool teacher — who was looking forward to retiring next year — that the cyclist was ticketed for blowing through the light is invaluable in helping bring a sense of closure.
Elizabeth Ou-Yang, a civil rights attorney and good friend of Loke, gave The Village Sun an update on the ongoing investigation into the deadly Sept. 5 collision at Grand and Chrystie Streets.
According to OuYang, Loke family members and advocates met on Oct. 10 with police from the Fifth Precinct and the Highway Patrol to hear the latest findings.
At their previous meeting, police had not said if the driver or Loke had the light in their favor. But, this time, they said that the cyclist should have stopped at the light — but didn’t.
“The biker has been issued a summons for running the red light,” she said. “We are just waiting now to see if he is going to plead guilty. We are of the understanding that, even if he pleads guilty, he has to appear before a judge because a death has occurred.
“We’re waiting for the date when the appearance will be,” she said. “We want to be there and watch him to see if the person has any remorse — and to make sure that the process is complete.”
OuYang said a Public Highway officer called a Loke family member to report that the e-biker now had been given a summons.
It will reportedly be up to the judge to determine the ticket’s cost.
The activist attorney credited The Village Sun’s reporting for helping keep the investigation alive. A Sept. 27 article by the Sun, “Did e-CitiBiker blow red light before fatally hitting Chinatown teacher?”, included an on-the-ground, traffic-light study of the intersection by the newspaper, which determined the cyclist likely ran a red bike-traffic light before slamming into Loke. The study included viewing a security-camera video of the collision posted by ABC News, plus an in-person study of the timing of the intersection’s traffic lights: On the video, north/south car traffic is seen stopped along Chrystie Street — but the cyclist comes rolling through the intersection, striking Loke. However, the bike light and the main traffic lights at the intersection are all synchronized — so the cyclist should have been stopped at the light, too.
“The phone call [from the Highway Police] did come after your second article,” OuYang noted. “There’s just no way they could go around it.”
Initially, police officers at the collision scene spoke to the cyclist — but then let him walk off. It has not been explained why the biker was allowed to leave without police recording his name and contact information. He was subsequently located.
Asked if the family would now try to seek damages, OuYang said, “At this point, the family needs more answers.”
“As Priscilla’s friend and an advocate, I want to make sure the investigation is thorough and we have the truth,” she said. “To be sure Priscilla is resting in peace, we have to have the truth.”
She said the Highway Patrol officer told them that, as its officers were investigating the scene of the fatality, Department of Transportation officials were there simultaneously — a standard procedure — collecting data for a report with safety recommendations that they will subsequently issue.
“We want to see that report,” OuYang said. “And I know the community is very interested in getting their thoughts and working to make the area safer.”
OuYang, Chinatown daycare teachers and local workers have all said the two-way Chrystie Street bike lane makes the spot very dangerous for pedestrians since, unfortunately, some cyclists don’t respect the traffic lights.
On a personal level, OuYang said her friend’s tragic, sudden death has made her hyper-vigilant now when she walks on the street.
“I’m so, so alert now,” she said. “It’s unreal. There are bikers on the sidewalks, bikers going the wrong way. I’m more scared about being hit by a bike than a car, at this point.”
In related news, police still have not located the cyclist who hit a 59-year female pedestrian on the morning of Sept. 15 at 38th Street and Second Ave. More than a month later, the victim remains in a coma, police said.
The cyclist — like the one who struck Loke — was riding an electric-powered CitiBike. He was going the wrong way in the Second Avenue bike lane when he hit the victim, according to police.
Following the collision, the 17th Precinct on some nights has been manning a checkpoint at the location. Captain Bob Fisher, the precinct’s executive (No. 2) officer, supervises the detail.
On Tues., Oct. 17, when The Village Sun happened by, they had just stopped an e-cyclist — either for running a red light or riding the wrong way in the southbound bike lane.
“Just trying to keep everyone safe out here,” Fisher said.