Transportation advocates held a vigil Monday evening for the fifth cyclist killed on city streets this year — and had choice words for what they see as Mayor de Blasio’s inattention to bicycle safety. Aurilla Lawrence, 25, died on Broadway near Rodney St. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on Thursday night when a truck hit her bicycle. Some of Lawrence’s friends — as well as members of Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets — say the mayor isn’t doing enough to protect cyclists’ lives. “I want a mayor that does more walking and biking than just walking out the door to his SUV,” said Kelsey Leigh, Lawrence’s friend and fellow bike messenger. “I want him to talk to us. I want him to get to know the cyclists of New York.”
Lawrence was the fifth person killed while riding a bike in New York in 2019. Her death put the city on pace for nearly 30 deaths by the end of the year — which would be a big jump from the ten cyclist deaths in 2018. “This isn’t just a worrying trend. This is a public health crisis,” said Philip Leffo of Transportation Alternatives. “The mayor does not seem to recognize the urgency of the situation.” The vigil in her memory was held at her “ghost bike” near Marcy Ave and Broadway in Brooklyn. The roadway where Lawrence died was deemed a priority street under Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative in 2015 and is expected to become even more dangerous as bike traffic increases on the nearby Williamsburg Bridge when the L train closes nights and weekends repairs.
City Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn) called de Blasio “tone deaf” about the city’s pedestrian and transit culture. “If the mayor can’t get a priority street safe in four years, imagine the rest of the streets in the city that need help,” said Reynoso. Lawrence, a bike messenger from Kentucky, was popular in the messenger community — friends said she “repped the life” of cycling in the city. “Aurilla worked a day in and day out,” said a bike messenger who identified as Unless Rigo. “People need to look at us with a little bit more compassion when they’re on the road.” De Blasio spokesman Seth Stein said the mayor remains committed to his Vision Zero plan to eliminate motor vehicle, cycling, and pedestrian deaths. “We are deeply saddened by any loss of life on our streets,” Stein said.