In Her Own Words: Mom of Cyclist Fatally Struck on Upper East Side Demands Safe, Crosstown Lanes 

Janice Mott, mom of 28-year-old Carling Mott (inset), who was killed on a bike last month, speaks out. Photo: Julianne Cuba
Janice Mott, mom of 28-year-old Carling Mott (inset), who was killed on a bike last month, speaks out. Photo: Julianne Cuba

The family of 28-year-old Carling Mott endorsed candidate Suraj Patel in the 12th Congressional District race on Monday, calling for dedicated crosstown bike paths, specifically on East 85th Street where her daughter was killed by the driver of a tractor trailer on July 26 — a lane that Rep. Carolyn Maloney lobbied against. Standing a block from where her only daughter died, Janice Mott made the following speech:

Two-hundred and seventy-three people died in traffic deaths in 2021 in New York City. There are currently 12 bikers who have been killed in New York City this year, including our beloved daughter, Carling. They had families, work families, friend families, and beautiful lives that were taken away too soon in tragic accidents that should not have happened.

Here's Carling Mott finishing the NYC Marathon.
Carling Mott loved New York City.

In the past two years, City Council District 4, which includes the Upper East Side, has ranked the second-most-dangerous district for people biking, with 455 cyclist injuries and now three deaths. 

To date, drivers of large trucks and tractor trailers have killed at least 19 people citywide.

Carling had a zest for life and was pure sunshine to everyone she met. It is because of her positive energy and her ability to solve problems that I am here to give her a voice in this mission to make New York City a safer place to bike and walk. 

On July 26, she got up and she ran 10 miles as she was preparing for the Chicago Marathon. She picked up a Citi Bike and went off to work. She loved riding her bike to work. She would often take pictures of the Hudson River on her way back from work and share the pictures with me and her dad. 

Carling was an avid bike rider since she was a little girl. She would bike to school, bike to practice, bike to the beach, and bike with her friends to get lunch or breakfast. We live in a resort city, where the population swells to over 100,000 people during the summer months. We never worried about her biking as our city has dedicated bike paths that go north and south, east and west, and all over. We also have dedicated truck streets, where trucks can go down and deliver their good. Stanchions are placed on streets so that trucks cannot enter to make it safe. 

I’m an avid biker. I bike most mornings, averaging 10 miles a day. I have biked the Five Borough Bike Tour twice. Two years ago, Carling was training for the New York City Marathon and asked me to bike with her and her friends and be their Sherpa. Carling and her two friends planned a half-marathon along the bike/pedestrian pathways from 180th Street to Battery Park along the East River. I loved every minute of riding that bike and following the runners, and felt very safe riding the bike. Seeing many bicyclists or pedestrians enjoying the path along the way gave me great joy. 

I am relaying this story to you because having those great experiences, I felt comfortable with Carling choosing to ride a bike to work instead of taking a hot subway in the morning and at night. 

When Carling was killed, I was horrified to learn that there was not a dedicated east-west bike path in her area in Yorkville to connect to the north-south path that would take her to work in Times Square. Not only that, but there was a plan for crosstown bike paths in that area that was ultimately squashed. And oversized trucks on this street apparently were disregarding signs not to enter that road.

At her celebration of life, with 2,000 of her family and friends, including her Nickelodeon and Syracuse University family, I promised her friends, her family, her co-workers that I was going to be on a mission, and I would be her voice to make the crosstown bike paths a reality on the Upper East Side, especially around her neighborhood where she lived and loved, Yorkville. 

After, I said, “How am I going to do that?” Carling sent me angels. One angel, a co-worker, who worked very closely with Carling, came to me after the service and said, “I want to help you accomplish this.” He is an avid biker, lives in New York City, and has a 9-year-old daughter. He said, “When you are ready, let me know how I can help.”

I reached out the next day and he sent me information on who to contact and organizations to investigate, Transportation Alternatives. The contacts were Council members Julie Menin and Keith Powers, who we immediately emailed to discuss with them how we can get this movement started. Mr. Powers did reply to set up a time to discuss. 

The other contact was Suraj Patel. I read Mr. Patel’s policy on safe corridors, and felt that his policies aligned with what we wanted to do. Mr. Patel, the other angel that was sent to me, called me within two hours of the email that I sent, and responded, “How can I help?”

Today he has given us our family his platform to implore the elected officials of New York City and the Department of Transportation to:

  1. Immediately add safe corridors east/west so that we can prevent another tragedy from happening now in the Upper East Side. 
  2. This can happen today, add truck stanchions to prevent trucks from entering roadways that are designated inaccessible for large trucks.

I want you to know that we live on a beautiful waterway. We have an osprey nest that is across the lagoon from us. Every year, the ospreys return and we watch the them leave, watch them raise their children, their babies. And Carling was always a part of that. She loved the ospreys. Another friend of mine, another angel, sent me these words on her death:

Advice from an Osprey

Live large
Hold tight to your dreams
Take others under your wing
Cherish your mate
Seek new perspectives
And dive in.

Carling lived these attributes everyday. 

I am asking you to dive in to reach this goal of safe crosstown routes and accessible streets for all New Yorkers.