MANHATTAN — More than 1,000 cyclists are preparing to bike from Midtown Manhattan to Washington Square Park Thursday evening to demand Mayor Bill de Blasio do more to protect bike riders in the wake of the year’s 15th cycling fatality, biking advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has announced.
The riders are expected to include family members of people who have died in cycling accidents this year, and will gather at E. 59th St. and 5th Ave. at 6 p.m. for a three-mile protest ride to Washington Square Park on Sept. 15, the organization said in a statement.
The riders will also sign thousands of postcards, to be delivered to Mayor de Blasio at City Hall, asking him to approve funding for protected bike lanes on the city’s most dangerous streets, said Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White.
“These are promises he ran on and we’re holding him to those promises,” Steely White told DNAinfo. “We’re riding to demand he puts his purse where his rhetoric is.”
The riders are hoping that Mayor de Blasio will approve funding for protected bike lanes in priority areas outlined in the Pedestrian Safety Action Plans, a Department of Transportation report on the city’s most dangerous streets and intersections.
Nearly half of the cyclists who died in 2016 were struck in one of the regions noted in the DOT report, according to a Transportation Alternatives analysis.
One of those riders was Michael Schenkman, a 78-year-old Flushing resident who was struck during his morning bike ride on Northern Boulevard on Aug. 24.
Schenkman is one of 15 bike riders — including Stanley Marshall, Lauren Davis, James Gregg, Heather Lough, Leah Sylvain, Matthew Von Ohlen, Antonio Flores, Sean Ryan — to be killed in a collision this year, including according to NYPD and Vision Zero statistics.
Only 14 cyclists were killed in all of 2015, statistics show.
Among the protesters riding on Thursday will be Matthew von Ohlen's mother Joan, Michael Schenkman's son Peter, and 6-year-old Galit Gordon from Brooklyn. He said he will be riding because the city needs to better protect children like him.
"We need safer streets so that no one gets run over by cars and trucks,” Gordon said in a statement, “and so kids can ride their bikes to school.”
Cyclists are asked RSVP on Facebook, to wear yellow and to bring bikes equipped with bells and lights.