Truck Driver Gets a Few Summonses for Killing Borough Park Cyclist as MTA Workers Continue Dangerous Parking

All these cars are parked illegally on a dangerous road in Borough Park. All it takes is a "theft vest."
All these cars are parked illegally on a dangerous road in Borough Park. All it takes is a "theft vest."

The morning after a Borough Park architect was killed on Thursday night, the roadway where he was run over by a sanitation truck driver was still filled with illegally parked cars belonging to employees of an MTA train facility — a dangerous practice that may have led to the cyclist’s death.

Eric Salitsky
Eric Salitsky

The NYPD said it had issued “multiple summonses” to the still unidentified 62-year-old driver of the privately owned Volvo garage truck that struck architect Eric Salitsky, 35, at around 6:20 p.m. on Thursday night on Ninth Avenue at the MTA’s 38th Street Yard. The driver initially fled, but was “located a short time after the collision,” police said. The NYPD also appeared to excuse the driver’s illegal flight from the scene, saying, “It is believed that the operator was not aware that he was involved in a collision.”

The NYPD declined to say what the summonses were for, but the driver did not appear to have been arrested.

Meanwhile, on Friday, a reporter discovered six cars — five with MTA vests on the dashboard, and one with a NYPD Transit Police placard — parked illegally in the “No Parking” zone on the southbound side of Ninth Avenue where Salitsky was killed.

In addition to having a sharrow alerting drivers that they need to respect and yield to cyclists, the narrow two-way road is also a bus route. At one point, two buses could not pass each other because of the presence of that illegally parked police officer’s car — a car that has been slapped with five camera-issued speeding tickets in less than two years:

The owner of this NYPD-placard-bearing car that is blocking buses has gotten five speeding tickes since June 2020. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
The owner of this NYPD-placard-bearing car that is blocking buses has gotten five speeding tickes since June 2020. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Other cars on the block displayed MTA vests, like these:

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At Salitsky’s apartment on 42nd Street near the crash site, the window shades were pulled down and a taped note on the buzzer requested privacy.

The neighborhood of Borough Park is one of least safe for cyclists, thanks to the absence of even a single protected bike lane and a political establishment that works against safety improvements, such as the DOT’s plan for bike lanes on Seventh and Eighth avenues on the western edge of Borough Park. Lawmakers for the neighborhood include State Sen. Simcha Felder and Assembly Member Peter Abbate, plus Council Member Kalman Yeger — all of whom have opposed street safety measures.

“It’s a fucking joke,” said one city insider who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly. “The DOT brings plans to Community Board 12, like Seventh and Eighth avenues and they cut the bus lanes. And DOT goes along with it. This neighborhood doesn’t want anything done.”

Felder did not return a call on Friday. Yeger has never responded to a request for information from Streetsblog.

But Abbate, who has been in the Assembly since the Reagan administration, called back to say he does care about road safety in the neighborhood, citing his authorship of four bills … that would reduce cycling.

“I have bills to regulate motorized bikes and scooters and all the things we see today,” he said. “Bicyclists need to wear a helmet and be registered.”

He did not seem to know the difference between pedal-assist electric bikes (legalized by the state in 2020) and illegal mopeds.

“They’re all the same,” he said. “It’s an outrage.”

When reminded that car and truck drivers cause upwards of 98 percent of the injuries, and virtually all of the deaths, on our streets —including Thursday’s cyclist fatality — Abbate was undeterred from opposing cycling.

“I understand [the numbers], but I’m getting a lot more [complaints] about bikes,” he said.

Assembly Member Peter Abbate
Assembly Member Peter Abbate

Abbate opposed a city plan to redesign Seventh and Eighth avenues in nearby Sunset Park because of its bike lane and because he felt it would cause congestion because drivers would still double park on the commercial strip. But the double-parking is not what bothered him, per se, because double-parking drivers are not the ones who kill pedestrians and cyclists.

“DOT doesn’t have a clue,” he said. “I don’t think they’ve ever been in a car! They come to the community board with statistics, like, ‘There have been 22 accidents’ — but 20 of them were a tiny scrape of one car against another. We gotta get the drivers who kill people at high speed! More ticketing. More enforcement. Stiffer punishment for speeding. And take their license away. And that’s why bicyclists have to be registered, too.”

He also said he was focused on “fixing traffic.”

“Give me two trucks for three months and we will solve the problem of double-parked cars,” said Abbate, who was once a taxi driver. “DOT can put in all the loading zones and bike lanes it wants, but if there’s no enforcement, people are going to park there! So the one lane becomes no lanes. But DOT says, ‘It’s not our job.’ Go to 250 Broadway [the State office building]! There are always people parked in the Assembly member spaces.” [DOT did not respond to a request for comment on the Salisky case, citing the ongoing investigation.]

Abbate is nothing if not confident in his opinion. “If I sat on my stoop for five minutes, I could tell you which people should have their licenses revoked and which shouldn’t,” he said. “I’m not against safety. But I want smart safety.”

For its part, MTA spokesperson Eugene Resnick issued a statement: “New York City Transit’s consistent message to employees is clear that if they do drive, they shouldn’t park on a sidewalk, in a bus lane, in an illegal spot, or at a metered spot without paying. Placing an MTA vest on the dashboard does not exempt an employee from parking regulations or convey any special privilege.”