Elected officials urge DOT to install protected bike lanes along Cross Bay Boulevard after Corona cyclist was killed

Photo by Todd Maisel

After yet another cyclist was killed in a collision with a motor vehicle, elected officials are calling on the city’s Department of Transportation to install protected bike lanes on Cross Bay Boulevard between Broad Channel and Howard Beach, as well as a stoplight near the vicinity of the tragedy.

Bogdan Darmetko, 65, of Corona, was struck and killed by an SUV driver in the afternoon of Oct. 13, becoming the 25th city cyclist to die this year, up from 10 deaths in all of 2018.

In a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, the representatives of Broad Channel wrote that their community had been requesting safety improvements along the dangerous roadway for years. Since January 2016, there have been 273 crashes injuring eight cyclists, four pedestrians and 82 motorists — this year alone, there have been 68 crashes, injuring three cyclists and 22 motorists, they wrote.

“This roadway is well known to the community as a hotspot for speeding and is notoriously dangerous. DOT must evaluate these hazards immediately,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to Darmetko’s family and friends during this difficult time. While we can never give back what was taken from you, we vow to do everything in our power to ensure Bogdan did not die in vain.”

In December 2018, 74-year-old Waiching Chen was killed by a driver of a Ford Escape, while she was in a crosswalk at 159th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard.

“Far too often, the city reacts to an injury — or worse, a fatality — before installing a safety measure to protect pedestrians from avoidable incidents. I prefer a more proactive approach in order to prevent such scenarios,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “I, along with my colleagues in government, urge the NYC DOT to take safety measures along this known dangerous stretch of Cross Bay Boulevard.”

A spokeswoman for the DOT said the agency is considering fast tracking better bicycle infrastructure in the area and is exploring other safety improvements as well. Currently, the northbound section of the street is in the process of being repaved, a situation that may have contributed to the cyclist’s death, according to the NYPD, which is still investigating the fatal crash.

“Cross Bay Boulevard has been a dangerous road for a long time, even with the streets marked clearly and signage visible. During construction over the past month, these issues were only exacerbated,” Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said. “DOT must take immediate action in protecting motorists, pedestrians and cyclists while conducting large-scale improvements on our roads. This is an absolute tragedy and we must work to ensure public safety. My thoughts and prayers go out to Bogdan Darmetko and his family during this time.”

The DOT is currently paving the Howard Beach section of Cross Bay Boulevard, and they expect to be repaving the Broad Channel section in about two weeks.