An Avoidable Tragedy

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On the warm evening of Sept 27, 2019, as the sunset’s warm colors of pink, yellow and purple filled the sky, many residents of the Rockaways were still out and about, enjoying the evening. My parents, Ada and Rudy Martinez, were among those people. Together, they enjoyed some of the great things Rockaway has to offer in the summer. Most days were spent enjoying yoga with Kevin the Yoga Guru on the beach, and most weekends were spent enjoying the live music played by their favorite band, Squid, as they danced into the night by Caracas and Low Tide. Life as they knew it, was just beginning. Newly retired with a healthy tribe of seven grandchildren, Ada and Rudy were completely enjoying all of what Rockaway could offer.

Unfortunately, the crash between Ada Martinez and a private ambulette driver of Mt. Sinai changed everything for everyone that evening.

As Ada and Rudy were traveling westbound along the designated bike lanes on Rockaway Freeway, tragedy hit. “As its name would suggest, Rockaway Freeway is designed to move cars quickly, not to safely accommodate people on bikes and on foot,” Transportation Alternatives spokesman Joe Cutrufo told the New York Post in October. “Anyone traveling outside of a car here is a risk due to speeding drivers and poor visibility.”

According to police reports, Ada was in a designated bike lane when she tried to turn left on to Beach 94th Street and steered into the path of the van. She tried to swerve to avoid the vehicle but fell and was crushed by the van. She died from her injuries, two weeks later. The driver was not charged.

Last year, there were 32 crashes in the short Rockaway Beach portion of the Rockaway Freeway, which has poor visibility for pedestrians, drivers and cyclists because it is beneath the elevated A train.

Ada Martinez was the 26th cyclist to die on New York City roads this year. In all of 2018, 10 cyclists were killed.

“Police gave scant—and contradictory details—about what happened next, using language to exonerate the driver,” Streetsblog said about the incident.

“It’s certainly not the first time the NYPD has put out a narrative that exonerates the driver and is based mostly, if not entirely on the testimony of that same driver,” Streetsblog also reported.

The poor infrastructure of stop signs, traffic signals are what really caused this accident. If a simple signal light was in place, allowing for cars traveling eastbound, a green light, and for cyclists traveling westbound, a red signal, or a large Stop sign on the ground giving cyclists a clue that danger lies ahead, this could have been avoided.

As we head into a future with more cyclists on the road, is the state going to put laws in place protecting cyclists and holding drivers accountable for deadly crashes? Is the state going to include a cyclist red/green light allowing cyclists the right of way? How are we going to protect the increased number of cyclists on the road? How are we going to protect grandmothers, mothers, children who enjoy spending their afternoons on a bicycle?

My mother, a grandmother, wife of 47 years, business owner, and community activist, had contributed to society in enormous ways. She stood up for equality. She was passionate about her family. She was giving, kind, generous, and this is a massive loss.

We would like to know if anyone has videos/photos of Ada dancing the evening away at Caracas or at Low Tide. Please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call me at 917-600-0843.

And we’d like more information. If there are any witnesses or bystanders who can provide information regarding the crash on Beach 94th, at around 7:45 p.m. on September 27, please contact us.

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