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Friend mourns Chelsea man killed by hit-and-run cyclist; Calls NYC streets a ‘Wild West’

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | The Chelsea man fatally struck by a hit-and-run, rogue cyclist last month was an immigrant from Singapore who had an abiding love affair with New York City.

According to police, Gavin Lee, 44, of 111 W. 16th St., was crossing Eighth Avenue at W. 22nd Street, heading west to east, on Thurs., Aug. 11, around 6:30 p.m., when the cyclist, who was heading northbound, slammed into him, sending them both crashing to the ground.

The cyclist got back on his bike and rode off, leaving the scene of the accident. Police are seeking the public’s help in arresting him.

Police say they are looking for this cyclist in connection with the fateful collision. (N.Y.P.D.)

Lee was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he died from his injuries five days later.

Sebastian Feldmann, Lee’s best friend, who posted a reader comment on The Village Sun’s original Aug. 23 online article on the tragic incident, filled in the details about his beloved pal. He also decried New York City’s bicycling scene as a “Wild West” compared to Germany, where he lives near Munich.

“It’s almost an unreal story,” Feldmann lamented of his friend’s shocking death.

“Gavin was inspiring, highly intelligent, giving, one of the most friendly persons I know, treating everyone equal and equally well,” he said. “He felt like an American, loved New York City, and for more than 20 years he didn’t even have a minor incident in New York City.”

He said Lee was born in Singapore and attended private school in the U.K. with none other than Prince Harry.

“His ‘British manners’ were really honed,” Feldmann said.

After that, Lee went to Canada for his further studies.

‘But his greatest ambition was always to live in New York — this city was his ‘love of [his] life,'” he said.

After graduation, Lee spent time in both Toronto and New York City, before finally settling in the Big Apple and receiving his U.S. citizenship. He worked in finance.

“Gavin was very successfully running his own business in the financial sector,” his friend said. “He was brilliant and fast with numbers.”

The two men quickly became best friends after meeting while living together in a student dorm in Toronto in 1999.

Over the years, their friendship developed and grew as Feldmann and his wife and kids visited Lee in New York City and Lee visited them in Germany.

When Feldmann proposed to his wife on Christmas Eve in 2002 — in the middle of the ice skating ring at Rockefeller Center — Lee was there as his buddy’s best man. Lee tried to snap a photo to capture the moment, but it wasn’t easy amid all the swirling ice skaters, Feldmann recalled.

“Actually, people say there was TV footage of that on national TV, but I never found it,” Feldmann noted of his on-ice proposal.

Lee would later become the godfather of the couple’s two children.

Gavin Lee ran his own successful financial business. (Courtesy Sebastian Feldmann)

In recent years, the COVID pandemic kept the men from reuniting in person. However, Feldmann and his family finally were able to come to New York last month — and had planned to see Lee. Tragically, just days before they arrived, Lee succumbed to his injuries from being hit by the cyclist.

“We planned for three years that we would reunite for ‘reliving’ the past decades and memories in New York together with my kids, who are now 13 and 16,” Feldmann said. “COVID came, so we had to go from 2020 to 2021.. and finally this year it was possible! We flew over on the 15th, arrived in New York on the 21st…and didn’t reach him on the phone or via e-mail.

“That was so not Gavin,” he said of the silence. “He was one of the most caring, loyal, respectful, loving and best-mannered persons I ever got to know. So I tried his phone over and over again…until finally on Tuesday morning, his uncle answered…and told me Gavin was dead.

“Imagine our shock and devastation. All we had planned for this week and the future collapsed — because of a stupid bike accident that was so avoidable and unnecessary!”

Feldmann, who was in the city until Aug. 28, said Gotham’s biking landscape looked pretty chaotic to him.

“Compared to Germany, it is the Wild West over here,” he observed. “It’s honestly shocking that no one seems to care about traffic rules. It’s just like thinking of ‘friendly recommendations’ rather than law!”

In his country, cyclists don’t need a license — but if they commit serious-enough offenses while biking, they can get points on their driver’s license.

“In Germany, people much more respect the law since they know any issue on the bike, scooter or the like will also affect their driver’s license,” he explained.

“In Germany, we don’t have license plates for bikes, but for faster e-bikes and scooters — above 25 km/h, I believe. But when you’re drunk on a bike, or things like that, the police will pursue it as if you drove a car. So they can even take away your license.”

However, he added, “In Germany with a rising number of delivery bikes, e-bikes, e-scooters, etc., things are getting worse every day. So [there are] many more accidents — but not with people running others over, because everyone still respects the traffic rules, but rather them crashing by themselves or [collisions] between cars and bikes on the ever-rising number of bike lanes.”

Feldmann added that, in Germany, scooters have speed limits and their riders must wear helmets.

Following the news of Lee’s death, Feldmann looked at the streets of his friend’s beloved city with a new eye.

“I was watching the New York streets the past days,” he said. “It really strikes me that only very few people actually seem to think that rules in traffic exist for a purpose. Why does nobody have the time to cross a street at a white [walk] sign? Why are bikes running the street in the wrong direction?

“It’s really about the ignorance of people, the ‘I am invincible’ feeling, the ‘I don’t have time,’ the ‘I am so very clever,’ the ‘Everyone is doing it,'” he reflected of rogue riders. “To me, New York has kept its own ‘character,’ but with all the different modes of transport added to it, this is becoming a massively dangerous combination.”

Meanwhile, Feldmann continues to grieve the loss of his friend, Gavin, felled in the prime of his life in a senseless act.

“He was a truly great character,” he said. “We mourn his death every single minute… . Missing him so very much.”

Police describe the cyclist in the collision as a male, with a medium complexion, around 25 years old, with brown, wavy hair, a medium build and an unknown tattoo on his right forearm. He was last seen wearing a yellow shirt, tan shorts and wearing a large black bag on his back.

Police ask that anyone with information call the N.Y.P.D.’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted on the Crime Stoppers Web site at crimestoppers.nypdonline.org or on Twitter at @NYPDTips. Tips can result in cash rewards. All tips are strictly confidential.

8 Comments

  1. SA SA August 30, 2022

    Awful. “Transportation Alternatives,” Sadik-Khan, Bloomberg, de Blasio and the lazy obsession with getting everything delivered in a rush, along with Uber and Lyft and restaurant sheds, have ruined the streets of this city. Be careful out there! If you survive the mentally ill homeless and drug addicts, you could get your life taken by a moped or bike, like poor Mr. Lee.

  2. Bill Weinberg Bill Weinberg August 30, 2022

    First of all: Shame, shame, shame on the hit-and-run cyclist in this case, and (if applicable) the employer or app pressuring the cyclist to put speed ahead of safety. However, that said, we badly need some perspective on this question. Gavin Lee was the first New Yorker killed by a bicyclist since 2019. More than 255 were killed by motorists last year. The outrage at bicyclists is dangerously misplaced. So while I am 100% with the above commenter in his outrage at the delivery apps and Uber and Lyft… I am equally opposed to his blaming the modest efforts to accommodate bicyclists put in place by Janette Sadik-Khan. The problem is precisely that they didn’t go nearly far ENOUGH, and cyclists are still forced into a Darwinian struggle with the toxin-belching death-machines that dominate the streets. Sorry.

  3. C.J. Scheiner C.J. Scheiner August 31, 2022

    While I am frightened by psychos on pedal-powered bikes, I am more concerned about crazies on electric and gas-powered bicycle-like vehicles who constantly ride on the sidewalk or the wrong way on streets. These “bikes” should all be required to display some type of license plate, just as motorcycles do.

  4. Disgusted and despairing Disgusted and despairing August 31, 2022

    Demand licenses and plates for electric bikes; they should be treated like motorcycles. Fine apps for speeding drivers and those who ride on sidewalks. There must be consequences for their behavior

    • cd cd August 31, 2022

      That’s fine, but it’s not like NYPD is enforcing laws for autos either, so it will really won’t accomplish anything but more bureaucracy. And as the article points out, Europe doesn’t require licenses for bikes, yet things are much better because of enforcement and people who care. There’s no class of street users (pedestrians, bikes, scooters, cars) that have respect for anyone.

  5. duchessofnyc duchessofnyc August 31, 2022

    Yes and they need lights! I was nearly mowed down on Avenue A by a speeding ebiker with no lights! Terrifying….. And I’m a biker.

    BTW, the suspect here wasn’t even riding an ebike right? Can’t tell from the pic. It’s terrible and tragic either way. RIP Lee

  6. Bill Weinberg Bill Weinberg August 31, 2022

    Burdensome regulation on bicyclists (licenses, etc) will make everything worse. You want to de-escalate the atmosphere of terror on the streets? Enforce the law on reckless motorists who force cyclists and pedestrians to compete for the slivers of public space not dominated by the death-machines — and work toward phasing out cars altogether. Which is mandated for other reasons as well, like, um…saving the goddam planet.

  7. Frustrated Neighbor Frustrated Neighbor September 24, 2022

    I have lived on the block several years, and witnessed the police highway patrol for Gavin Lee just before 7 PM with their tripods measuring the horrific accident, just following the accident — there was chaos outside Foragers and Chelsea Florist. Highway patrol shut down 8th Avenue for over 3 hours. It was total déjà vu of a replay of the eerie similarities just 3 days shy of the 3rd anniversary of the horrific accident claiming Iris Crespo, who was killed at the VERY same crosswalk on Aug. 8, 2019, by a car. RIP

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