Pols Call For Safety Measures Following Cyclist Death in Broad Channel

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On Sunday, October 13, 65-year-old Bogdan Darmetko, an avid cyclist from Corona, was out enjoying a ride along a regular route—Cross Bay Boulevard—when he was tragically hit by an SUV and killed in Broad Channel. Now local elected officials are calling for action.

In late September, Cross Bay Boulevard was milled from Howard Beach to Broad Channel, and has sat unpaved since, leaving rough road conditions, that are even more difficult to navigate without traffic lanes along the strip. Darmetko was riding northbound on a milled portion of the road when he was struck by an SUV traveling in the same direction around East 4th on Sunday afternoon. As Darmetko was riding, he made a left into the path of the car and was struck by the front driver side of the vehicle. The cyclist was later pronounced dead. A 32-year-old driver remained on the scene and is not expected to be charged. Darmetko is the 25th cyclist to be killed by a driver in New York City this year.

The Rockaway Times reached out to the Department of Transportation on Tuesday, October 15, to ask when the road will be repaved. According to a spokesperson, the DOT is currently in the process of repaving the road in Howard Beach, but the section in Broad Channel won’t be repaved for another two weeks.

Beyond the general repaving, local elected officials are calling on the DOT to do more. On Tuesday, Councilman Eric Ulrich, State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo and Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato wrote a letter to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, asking the agency to "take the appropriate steps to keep cyclists, pedestrians and motorists safe." Among their requests are protected bike lanes on Cross Bay Boulevard, between Broad Channel and Howard Beach; as well as a stoplight near the vicinity where Darmetko was killed.

"This particular area in Broad Channel has long been a hotspot for speeding, and it is crucial DOT takes the appropriate steps to keep cyclists, pedestrians and motorists safe," the letter reads. "While we can never take away the pain and suffering felt by those affected by Darmetko's untimely death, we can prevent another tragedy from occurring along this notoriously dangerous roadway."

Besides this latest death, the officials cited several other recent incidents along Cross Bay Blvd. to explain why more needs to be done. According to the letter, since January 2016, there have been 273 crashes along the road, injuring eight cyclists, four pedestrians and 82 motorists. Last year alone, there were 68 crashes, injuring three cyclists and 22 motorists. In December, a 74-year-old woman was killed in the crosswalk at 159th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard.

"This roadway is well known in 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."

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