BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Police have identified the type of electric bicycle that critically injured a woman in Murray Hill on Sept. 15.
According to police, the cyclist was riding an electric CitiBike.
Police said the biker was going northbound — the wrong way — in the southbound bike lane at 38th Street and Second Avenue just after 7:30 a.m., when he struck a 59-year-old woman who was crossing the avenue in the crosswalk, heading from the intersection’s northeast corner to the northwest corner.
The cyclist left the scene. Police have released a photo of the man, who remains at large.
Asked if police have reached out to Lyft, the operator of CitiBike, to identify the cyclist, a police spokesperson only responded, “The investigation is ongoing at this time.”
The latest update from police on the victim’s status is that she remains in a coma.
Following the violent E. 30s collision, police installed an electric signboard right in the middle of the bike lane for a few days that blared “Hit and Run” and requested people call Crime Stoppers hotline with information on the incident. The signboard was later relocated to the east side of the intersection — where few cyclists traveling in the Second Avenue bike lane are likely to see it.
More recently, last Wednesday and Thursday evenings, police set up a bike-lane “checkpoint” at the intersection. The Village Sun did not observe police stopping any cyclists at the spot, but the officers clearly did provide a visible presence. Some cyclists did go through the red light — even as police with flashing patrol car headlights flanked the bike lane. One “spandex” rider came whizzing down the bike lane, then veered sharply left onto the 38th Street bike lane, avoiding the main police checkpoint, while also blowing right through a red light in the process.
“Sometimes you can do more harm” if officers give chase to the scofflaw cyclists, the supervising officer on the scene noted.
Less than two weeks before the Murray Hill incident, another woman was struck in Manhattan by an electric CitiBike — this time fatally. However, in that case, police were later able to locate the cyclist who fatally hit Priscilla Loke, 69, a longtime Chinatown preschool teacher, on Sept. 5 at the busy intersection of Grand and Chrystie Streets, which sports a two-way bike lane. Loke’s family members want answers from police on why the cyclist was initially allowed to leave the scene without providing his information — and they also want concrete information on who had the right of way.
Based on The Village Sun’s own analysis of traffic light patterns at the intersection, plus a video of the crash posted by Channel 7 Eyewitness News — which showed car traffic on Chrystie Street having already come to a stop at a red light prior to the crash — it’s likely the cyclist who struck Loke blew through the red light. The northbound bike lane’s traffic light is timed to sync exactly with the car traffic lights on Chrystie Street at the intersection. Police have not released surveillance video from the police cameras at the northwest corner of Grand and Chrystie Streets that, Loke’s family and supporters say, could possibly shed more light on the fateful incident.
The type of e-CitiBike that hit Loke — one of the newer, white ones — are particularly heavy at 65 pounds, around triple the weight of a traditional bike, plus of course are moving faster than pedal-powered bikes.
In July, Hellgate reported that New York City caps the amount of e-bikes in Lyft’s fleet at 20 percent of its total — but that this isn’t “keeping up with demand.”
It wasn’t clear if the cyclist in the Murray Hill hit-and-run was riding a new, white e-CitiBike or an older and lighter, blue e-CitiBike.
In another pedestrian-killed-by-cyclist incident from last year, police have apparently been unable to track down the pedal-powered biker who fatally hit Chelsea resident Gavin Lee, 44, as he was crossing Eighth Avenue at W. 22nd Street around 6:30 p.m. last Aug. 11. The cyclist was heading northbound when he slammed into Singapore native Lee, sending them both crashing to the ground. The cyclist got back onto his bike and fled the scene.
Police did not respond to a request from The Village Sun asking whether the cyclist who hit Lee was ever located.
Lee’s good friend Sebastian Feldmann had just arrived in New York City from Germany to visit him, only to find out he had been killed just a few days before.
“Compared to Germany, it is the Wild West over here,” Feldman observed at the time of New York City’s cycling scene. “It’s honestly shocking that no one seems to care about traffic rules. It’s just like thinking of ‘friendly recommendations’ rather than law! … It really strikes me that only very few people actually seem to think that rules in traffic exist for a purpose. … Why are bikes running the street in the wrong direction?”
He said, in Germany, cyclists know they can have points deducted on their driver’s licenses if they commit violations while biking, which compels better behavior.
In another recent e-bike-related Manhattan fatality, police said that on Sept. 16 around 1 a.m., Felix Patricio, 46, from Brooklyn was riding an e-bike at 47th Street and First Avenue when he went through the intersection and struck the median. He was pronounced dead from head trauma.