Postal Service Truck Driver Hits and Kills Upper West Side Cyclist

The aftermath of Tuesday's crash. Photo: Ken Coughlin
The aftermath of Tuesday's crash. Photo: Ken Coughlin

A United States Postal Service truck driver struck and killed a 71-year-old bicyclist in an unprotected intersection along the Central Park West bike lane on Tuesday night, police said.

According to initial police reports, the USPS driver and the cyclist were heading northbound on Central Park West — which got a protected bike lane last year — at around 5:40 p.m. when the postal driver slammed into the cyclist as he turned his truck right onto the 86th Street transverse.

The aftermath of Tuesday's crash. Photo: Ken Coughlin
The aftermath of Tuesday’s crash. Photo: Ken Coughlin

The cyclist, whose name was not released pending family notification, was taken with severe body trauma to St. Luke’s Hospital, where he died. The postal worker was not initially charged, but police said the investigation was ongoing.

The victim is the seventh cyclist to die this year.

Though the Central Park West protected bike lane only went in last year, cyclists immediately observed its central danger: intersections.

“I find that intersection quite dangerous when riding north,” said Ken Coughlin, a member of Community Board 7 and a regular cyclist. “Right-turning vehicles encroach on the bike lane, which is not at all protected there, and they frequently disregard cyclists in their impatience to get onto the transverse. DOT must immediately figure out how to eliminate deadly conflicts there, and a good start would be a split phase signal separating cyclists and turning drivers.”

In addition, it is exceptionally difficult for victims of postal service workers to get justice for their families. In 2019, Charles McLean was run down by a postal service truck driver in the Ocean Hill section of Brooklyn. Police never made an arrest and the Postal Service has not responded to repeated questions from Streetsblog about how the driver was disciplined, if indeed he was.

The agency has an abysmal track record for crashes, which are difficult to track because postal service trucks do not carry license plates. After the McLean killing, a Streetsblog investigation revealed that USPS drivers are so reckless that the agency paid more than $23 million in claims by New Yorkers injured or killed in crashes caused by mail company.

From 2013 to 2019, the USPS quietly settled 661 motor vehicular injury suits by New Yorkers, roughly 100 per year, with an average value of $35,000. Over the same period, the postal service has paid out roughly $353 million to settle 15,580 claims nationwide, more than 2,300 crashes per year, according to data obtained by Streetsblog in a Freedom of Information request. Details of the cases themselves were not provided.

It is also worth noting that last year, the City Council passed legislation requiring the city Department of Transportation to oversee fatal crash investigations, an area previously the domain of the NYPD. That legislation took effect on April 25, 2021.