Community Mourns Musician Killed in UES Bicycle Accident, Worries About Safety of Cyclists
By Ben Fractenberg
UPPER EAST SIDE — Friends and family of Bob Bowen, who was struck by a flatbed truck while riding his bike on the Upper East Side two weeks ago, are outraged that the driver who killed him is still at large — and concerned about the safety of cyclists in the area.
Bowen, 45, an accomplished jazz musician and music teacher at Hofstra University, was riding his bicycle at Second Avenue and East 59th Street on Aug. 26 when the truck hit him and then fled the scene. He died from his injuries on Aug. 30. Police said they are still hunting for the truck's driver.
Amy Lemmon, 47, Bowen's wife and the mother of their two children, Stella, 8, and Bobby, 10, is angry that the man who killed her husband has not yet been apprehended.
"It's absolutely hideous to think that the person is still at large," Lemmon told DNAinfo.
Harry Miller, 48 played gigs around the city with Bowen for more than five years. He called his friend "just a really sweet-natured guy" and said that bike riding in the city is a dangerous sport.
"It's pretty harrowing when I have to go crosstown," he said. "They really need protected bike lanes on every major street."
Bob Dee, 49, a musician and friend of Bowen's who lives in Washington Heights, agreed.
"You've just got to be tough to ride in the streets of New York," Dee said, adding, "Bob came to rehearsals last year with his helmet on and [electric] base strapped to his back."
Dee played gigs around the city with Bowen for 10 years. He said they bonded because they both have special needs children.
“I have a disabled child and his daughter has Down syndrome and we used to talk a lot about their care,” said Dee.
“Bob was very involved as a parent,” said Lemmon. “He was somebody I leaned on for emotional support.”
Second Avenue was slated to get a bike lane from Houston Street to 125th Street, but the project has been stalled, according to Barbara Ross, a spokeswoman for Time's Up, an environmental organization that advocates for improved bicycle safety in the city.
"I'm concerned they're slowing down on the bike lanes,” said Ross. "That area where [Bowen] was killed is so dangerous. The first thing they need to do is extend the bike lane."
The number of city cyclists increased by at least 20 percent in 2009, according to Ross. She said she has noticed a lot more people commuting to work on their bikes — something Bowen was known to do.
There have been 15 bicyclist fatalities this year, said Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Gastel. He also noted a 40 percent reduction of serious pedestrian crashes on streets with bike lanes and said the city intends to add 50 bike lane miles per year.
Bowen's colleagues and friends have set up a PayPal account so people can donate money for his children.
A memorial for him will be held on September 27 at the Irondale Center on South Oxford Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.