Australia: Australian woman's tragic death prompts change to New York streetscape - PressFrom - Australia
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AustraliaAustralian woman's tragic death prompts change to New York streetscape

12:25  04 july  2019
12:25  04 july  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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Australian woman's tragic death prompts change to New York streetscape
Australian woman's tragic death prompts change to New York streetscape
Australian woman's tragic death prompts change to New York streetscape

The death of Australian tourist Madison Jane Lyden, who was hit and killed while cycling around Central Park, will lead to lasting changes in the streetscape of New York.

After months of heated debate, Manhatten's Community Board 7 voted overnight, Australian time, to add a protected bike lane on the road that runs along the western flank of the iconic park.

Lyden, 23, from Geelong, was killed by a garbage truck driven by a drunk driver as she cycled in the painted bike lane along Central Park West. The collision happened when she swung out of the lane to avoid a taxi, which was pulling out from the kerb.

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“There have been many crashes on Central Park West, many crashes with injuries,” said an official at a public meeting in New York on Tuesday night.

“The tragedy that happened last year in August, when a woman was killed biking on Central Park West ... That’s the real reason why we’re here today.”

The city’s Department of Transportation plans to replace the painted lane with one that is separated from traffic by a two-metre buffer between 59th Street and 110th Street.

But the proposed bike lane is controversial in New York because it will get rid of 400 car parks along the street.

“Overwhelmingly, the residents of Central Park West are opposed to this bike barrier,” one woman told the public meeting. Upper West Side residents filled the Goddard Riverside Community Centre to listen to the debate, the newspaper reported.

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“We are thousands upon thousands of people versus pitifully few bikes that are using that bike lane,” the woman continued.

Still, their pleas were not enough to convince the community board, which passed the measure 27 to seven.

“I think it will save lives of both bike riders and pedestrians,” CB7 Chairwoman Roberta Semer told The New York Daily News. “[But] I still personally feel great pain for those who need to park who will be losing a parking space.”

A witness to Lyden's accident said Lyden “flew and hit the concrete on her head,” after the truck hit her. A friend who was cycling with her ran to her aid and tried to comfort her after the crash.

“She was shouting, ‘Baby, baby, baby, wake up,’” the witness told The New York Daily News at the time.

Lyden was not wearing a helmet, which is not uncommon in New York as there are no legal requirements to do so.

Her friend tried to resuscitate her until the ambulance arrived. Ms Lyden suffered severe trauma injuries and was taken to the Roosevelt Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

CBS local reported that crashes with injuries fall 15 per cent across the board with the installation of protected bike lanes, and pedestrian crashes with injuries fall more than 20 per cent.

While it’s a win for cyclists, drivers and residents fear it will mean that parking garages in the area will take advantage of fewer parking spots and raise their rates.

Construction on the protected bike lane is expected to start in September.

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