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After a box truck driver fatally struck 31-year-old cyclist Kelly Hurley as she rode in the First Avenue bike lane twelve days ago, the NYPD issued a single summons to the driver for not having a crossover mirror. “He didn’t have any issues with his license, he was not driving under the influence, the victim sadly slipped off her bike,” NYPD spokesman Detective Ahmed Nasser told the Voice.
According to Detective Nasser, the box truck driver was stopped at a red light at the intersection of First Avenue and East 9th Street early on the morning of April 5. When the light turned green, the truck driver “made a left turn from the rightmost lane” onto East 9th Street. Hurley, who was traveling north in the bike lane, “dismounted the bicycle and slid onto the roadway, and came to rest in the intersection.”
“She was actually trying to avoid [the truck], she came off her bike and slid under the truck as he made the turn,” Nasser said.
We asked Detective Nasser if the truck driver, a 59-year-old man who remained at the scene of the crash, should have been making sure that he wasn’t turning into a cyclist or a pedestrian in the intersection.
“Well, I suppose you can say one or the other, but it seems like he probably didn’t see her, and she was going up north, he was making a left, he’s actually already into the intersection, he was already making the turn,” Nasser said. “She probably didn’t stop in time, and she slipped and fell under. . . . He’s already in, she tried to stop, she came off the bike, she slipped under the truck.”
Hurley, a SoulCycle instructor who lived on Orchard Street, died of her injuries last Wednesday.
Steve Vaccaro, a safe streets advocate and personal injury attorney who frequently represents cyclists and pedestrians, disputes Nasser’s analysis of who had the right of way in that intersection, which is known as a “mixing zone,” where drivers are allowed to turn left through northbound bicycle traffic, provided they observe the “yield teeth” triangles on the ground and give cyclists the right of way.
“You can’t say ‘one or the other,’ ” Vaccaro says. “The traffic going straight has the right of way — the bicycle traffic going straight has the right of way, motor vehicle traffic entering the turn bay through the yield teeth absolutely does not have the right of way and must yield to all traffic that it might come in conflict with.”
Vaccaro also pointed out that if the truck driver turned from the rightmost lane, “that’s a totally illegal maneuver.”
“Let’s say that cyclists have the right of way in the mixing zone, they still have to stay alert for motorists coming into the mixing lane. But you don’t look all the way across First Avenue to the eastmost lane.”
Vaccaro added, “That the driver didn’t have any issues with his license and that he wasn’t driving under the influence, that’s just a start. We are now in the realm of the Right of Way Law, and if you violate that law, you should be charged with a crime.”
After Hurley’s death, police were seen ticketing cyclists at the spot where she was struck.
Detective Nasser said that the NYPD’s investigation is ongoing.