Streams

Ghostly Rides Mark Cyclists' Deaths

Sunday, April 06, 2014 - 07:17 PM

WNYC
Memorial for 24 year-old cyclist Laura Rothfuss, who died in a street collision.

Martha Rothfuss stood in the gloom beneath the elevated tracks at the corner of 125th Street and Park Avenue in East Harlem and remembered her daughter, Laura. "She always said that her boyfriend was her bike," Martha Rothfuss recalled. "She rode everywhere."

Laura Rothfuss, 24, was biking through the intersection in June when she was knocked down by one cab and run over by another. Hers was one of 286 traffic deaths in the city last year. The site of the collision is now marked by a white "ghost bike" that is locked to a pole and adorned by her photo and funereal bouquets of flowers. About two dozen cyclists rode to the spot on Sunday, dismounted, and held a brief memorial service that included Laura Rothfuss' parents, who'd traveled from East Aurora, a town near Buffalo, to be there.

"At times, there's a hole in our hearts that feels like it will never heal," said Rick Rothfuss, Laura's father. "We love her very much and long to see her every day."

The service was one of several held around the city as four different groups of cyclists and pedestrians made a "9th Annual Memorial Ride" — pilgrimages to the sites of recent traffic deaths around New York. As of Sunday, 56 people had died in street collisions since last year.

(For details on those collisions, see TN's "Mean Streets" tracker, part of our year-long investigation into traffic safety and Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero program.)

The group in Harlem then held their bikes up over their heads as a salute, before heading to another spot, only a block away, where a city bus struck and killed bicycle deliveryman Pedro Santiago. That collision occurred in January and was one of two bicyclist deaths so far this year in the city.

Cyclists raise their bikes in honor of those who have died in streets collisions. (Jim O'Grady)

Editors:

Julianne Welby

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Comments [14]

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

Lucas, your statement still doesn't justify your group flouting the laws, and acting as such does place you into harm's way.

Apr. 10 2014 06:35 PM
Lucas from Harlem

Tal Barzilai: Complaining about the cost of the sandbags as the flood waters rise.

58 people DEAD in traffic so far this year. ZERO deaths caused by pedestrians or bicyclist.

Apr. 10 2014 05:39 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

What, anything you say about motorists flouting the laws, I can easily say the same about cyclists doing the same. For the record, I don't condone the actions of reckless drivers, so quit acting like that, plus making such claims isn't an excuse for your group to be allowed to flout the laws hence George Orwell's Animal Farm. When was the last time you called out cyclists that flouted laws such as Critical Mass, who is known for doing such actions? The answer is probably never. Honestly, I see those ghost bikes as eyesores. I give my condolences to their deaths, but preserving where they died is completely unnecessary, and I know this from being a native of Israel where the site of many terrorist attacks aren't preserves no matter how tragic they were. The truth is that when you flout the law when riding a bicycle, you are placing yourself into harm's way even if you aren't thinking about that. Another thing on trying to make you understand may have the same equivalence as getting the Muslim Brotherhood to accept Israel as a nation for the Jews. Sometimes to make you understand, I may have to kick you off of your high horse and get you back down to Earth or in this case, your bicycle. As usual, you give me excuses rather than reasons for your claims. Another inconvenient truth is that many do want cyclists to follow the traffic laws as well as having them be licensed, registered, and insured, because so many pedestrians are getting tired of being hit by cyclists that happen to come at them by surprise and even fleeing the scene forcing the person who got hit by them to pay for it all by themselves being that the cyclists can't be traced.

Apr. 10 2014 03:31 PM
What from NYC

"As a matter of fact, the method of the bike zealots or anti-car crowd is almost no different from the anti-Israel, which also using just effects only hence they claim, "The IDF kills a lot more than Hamas ever does, therefore they are much more of a terrorist organization." See what I just did there, I just substituted some words to give an understand for those who just effects like you do."

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter or have you never heard this saying. Your point hold's no weight or do you typically just spew irrelevant nonsense.

"Overall, there were always be a need for motor vehicles in cities whether you like it or not, because NYC doesn't even have that many farms left to grow their food especially when developers saw them as valuable space. Also, the car culture is just like the WNBA, because no matter how much you don't like this group, it won't be going away anytime soon. On a side note, at least I actually use my name unlike you who is probably someone with a bunch of names here."

Not once did I mention banning motor vehicles. However, I do feel that we can orient this city in favor of the pedestrian much more dramatically and it is happening, internationally, as we speak. Vision Zero is only the beginning of a great transformation that will last for some time.

Apr. 10 2014 12:48 AM
What from NYC

"For the record, I have nothing against anyone who wants to use a bicycle, it's their choice, and I will support that. However, it's those who believe that the rules don't apply to them that I'm against. You can try to shove it under the rug, but I will end up finding it."

It is fair to bring attention to violations by bicyclist and pedestrians (although many laws need modification).

HOWEVER,

You place absolutely no blame on motorist, nor do you support initiatives that would improve safety where it is most needed: Reckless driving like speeding and red light running. Responsible for more damage than any cyclist or pedestrian is capable of.

Your priorities are off. The limited resources of the NYPD should focus on the biggest public health and revenue sucker on our streets, the automobile.

"If having bicycles subject to licensing, registration, and insurance gets the rogue cyclists off the road, I'm all for it."

The benefits of having more cyclist on the road FAR outweighs cracking down on petty violations.

We're talking a huge monetary, public health and quality of life benefit here.

"Just to let you know, most NYC cyclists weren't originally motorists, they were transit riders, so it hurts the MTA a lot more."

I own a car (mind blowing huh), a bike and a MetroCard. New Yorkers are largely multi-modal. I choose to bike when possible due to convenience, health benefits, and because the my local subway, buses, and roads are damn packed.

"If you really want BS, then claiming that riding a bicycle to go green is just that, because the same can be said by using public transportation, walking, or even driving a an energy efficient car like I do. "

A personal automobile negatively impacts the environment in the greatest way. In comparison mass transportation, bicycling and walking have limited environmental impact.

"In other words, I don't see what makes riding a bicycle so special compared to all others."

Some reasons:

•Less people on roads and rail. Reduces congestion. If you haven't noticed, the roads and subways in NYC are over capacity during rush hours.
•Less money spent on expensive infrastructure.
•More connections to once out of the way areas.
•Which results in more commerce.
•And better public health.

"Another thing is that not everybody can ride a bicycle especially when programs such as Citi Bike have weight limits for users, so someone who is overweight."

So what? It can still serve a large percentage of the population. Can automobiles be driving by children and the blind?

Not everyone was ever expected, or desired to utilize Citi Bike. A mode share increase in bicyclist will just take pressure off other modes.

"Nevertheless, you are still basing everything on effects rather than causes, and it's very easy to vilify a group or individual based on effects while omitting the causes."

Not at all. However, you are spewing senseless garbage such as:

Apr. 10 2014 12:48 AM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

For the record, I have nothing against anyone who wants to use a bicycle, it's their choice, and I will support that. However, it's those who believe that the rules don't apply to them that I'm against. You can try to shove it under the rug, but I will end up finding it. If having bicycles subject to licensing, registration, and insurance gets the rogue cyclists off the road, I'm all for it. Just to let you know, most NYC cyclists weren't originally motorists, they were transit riders, so it hurts the MTA a lot more. If you really want BS, then claiming that riding a bicycle to go green is just that, because the same can be said by using public transportation, walking, or even driving a an energy efficient car like I do. In other words, I don't see what makes riding a bicycle so special compared to all others. Another thing is that not everybody can ride a bicycle especially when programs such as Citi Bike have weight limits for users, so someone who is overweight. Nevertheless, you are still basing everything on effects rather than causes, and it's very easy to vilify a group or individual based on effects while omitting the causes. As a matter of fact, the method of the bike zealots or anti-car crowd is almost no different from the anti-Israel, which also using just effects only hence they claim, "The IDF kills a lot more than Hamas ever does, therefore they are much more of a terrorist organization." See what I just did there, I just substituted some words to give an understand for those who just effects like you do. Overall, there were always be a need for motor vehicles in cities whether you like it or not, because NYC doesn't even have that many farms left to grow their food especially when developers saw them as valuable space. Also, the car culture is just like the WNBA, because no matter how much you don't like this group, it won't be going away anytime soon. On a side note, at least I actually use my name unlike you who is probably someone with a bunch of names here.

Apr. 09 2014 10:41 PM
What from NYC

"I can see that someone is on the all out defensive here. Believe or not, a number of times that cyclists get hit is mainly because they tend to flout the law, which does tend to place them into harm's way."

False. Most cyclist collide with automobiles in one of these three ways:

•Driver making right turn, both have green light.
•Driver making left turn from opposite direction.
•Doored.

In all three, the bicyclist has the right away. Keep making up B.S.

"Unfortunately, you continue to give me the effects when I am giving you the causes. BTW, there have been pedestrians actually hit by bicycles, and many say that they fear them even more especially because they are known to flout laws such as ignoring numerous traffic lights and signs."

Although occasionally pedestrians may have close calls with cyclist, rarely do they end up colliding despite your claim (I mean,cyclist are flouting the laws left and right right). In the last 10 years only one pedestrian has been killed by a cyclist in NYC. An ultra rare event. Collisions between cyclist/pedestrians rarely result in serious injury either.

"What is the main reason you are against having bicycles licensed, registered, and insured especially when all other vehicles that use the road have to have this?"

Licensing, registering and insuring cyclist will discourage cycling in NYC. In this city, we want people to move towards this mode in order to relieve congestion on others. The benefits of more cyclist mode share far outweighs the petty rule breaking which occurs. Most of which affects no one and is inappropriately designated.

"Is it because you feel it will cost more, or the police can now track you if you happen to hit someone and happen to flee the scene? Either way, your response to that is more of an excuse rather than a reason. If this gets rid of the rogue cyclists, I'm happy for that. I suggest you go back to Streetsblog and tell Mark Gorton that you failed. On a side note, when I mentioned cyclists flouting the law at a Vision Zero meeting last week, I was highly applauded for saying that.

Because cyclist are fatally and seriously injuring pedestrians and destroying infrastructure across NYC... Such rebels they are!

Why don't you focus your anti-bicycle efforts on something that matters like reducing pollution or poverty? Talk about misguided and meaningless.

Get used to it. NYC is reorienting itself in favor of the pedestrian.

Apr. 09 2014 04:38 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

I can see that someone is on the all out defensive here. Believe or not, a number of times that cyclists get hit is mainly because they tend to flout the law, which does tend to place them into harm's way. Unfortunately, you continue to give me the effects when I am giving you the causes. BTW, there have been pedestrians actually hit by bicycles, and many say that they fear them even more especially because they are known to flout laws such as ignoring numerous traffic lights and signs. What is the main reason you are against having bicycles licensed, registered, and insured especially when all other vehicles that use the road have to have this? Is it because you feel it will cost more, or the police can now track you if you happen to hit someone and happen to flee the scene? Either way, your response to that is more of an excuse rather than a reason. If this gets rid of the rogue cyclists, I'm happy for that. I suggest you go back to Streetsblog and tell Mark Gorton that you failed. On a side note, when I mentioned cyclists flouting the law at a Vision Zero meeting last week, I was highly applauded for saying that.

Apr. 08 2014 11:06 PM
What from NYC

Tal Barzilai, how about you stay in Pleasantville and off our roads?

A human life is always worth extra caution behind the wheel.

Your gripe about registration, licensing and insurance will never happen and is ridiculous considering the city is trying to increasing cycling mode share. Bicyclist are not killing and seriously injuring New Yorkers, drivers are.

BTW, driver error is responsible for both bicyclist killed this year (and most in general). The same goes for our lost pedestrians/

Apr. 08 2014 07:58 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville NY

While I do give my condolences to the cyclists that got hit, some of them did sign their own death warrant. The fact that they continue to act as if the rules don't apply them is the reason for why they are getting hit in the first place. I feel that Vision Zero should extend to cyclists and enforce the already existing laws on them. Also, I feel that it's about time bicycles should be registered, licensed, and insured just like all other vehicles especially since so many cyclists want to be treated like that. However, the bike zealots will oppose this because doing so will not only make them more responsible for their actions, but they can even get tracked should try to flee the scene of an accident.

Apr. 07 2014 05:04 PM
Dana from bk

I agree with David, it's too bad this was only published after the fact.

Apr. 07 2014 02:25 PM
AMHess from Harlem

Never again. #VisionZero

Apr. 07 2014 12:37 PM
LN from Washington Heights

May you Rest in Peace, Laura. For more on her and the crash see http://ghostbikes.org/new-york-city/laura-rothfuss

Apr. 07 2014 11:15 AM
David Vassar from Manhattan

Jim, Thanks for your story on cyclist victim Martha Rothfuss. Blessings to her friends and family. I wish I had gotten wind of the event beforehand, I would definitely have cycled to it and joined in.

Apr. 07 2014 09:52 AM

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