To my neighbors in BPC,
Last week a cyclist named Olga Evgleska Cook was killed by an automobile driver on Chambers Street and West Street. This could have easily been any one of the residents of Battery Park City, or even worse, one of our children, whether on a bicycle or simply walking home.
My family, including my son, ride their bikes in this specific spot, as do many of my friends. At the time of the fatal accident, Olga had no ID on her, so it took two days until we knew who she was and where she was from. When I found out that a cyclist had been hit in our neighborhood and left to die by a hit and run driver, it really hit home for me. I had a similar experience years ago, though I luckily survived.
At that time, the authorities completely ignored my experience and pleas for safer roads, as if my life were totally insignificant. That attitude remains today. I am so outraged at the horrible traffic situation in all of BPC and the endangering of our community.
This specific section of bikeway from Chambers Street to the Battery has become the most dangerous section of bikeway in the city. It is in complete chaos during rush hour, filled with runners, walkers, skateboarders, and strollers. Lots of people take the liberty of using the bikeway as a sidewalk and are busy texting, wearing headphones, and taking photos. It has become incredibly stressful and very dangerous dealing with all of this. When riding through these overcrowded intersections on my bicycle, I am always glared at as “the bad guy”; as I ring my bell and call out to clear my path so that I don’t hurt anyone.
Out of grief and sympathy for Olga, and as a protest to this increasingly dangerous situation to all of us, I have been sitting at the site of the accident. While sitting there a few days after the accident, I saw a woman and a few others clutching and hugging the street pole, where a small memorial had been erected. The woman, it turns out, was Olga’s mother. I went over and offered my condolences and It brought me to tears. I let her know that people care in this community and that I have been showing my care by sitting here. Along with her mother, were Olga’s husband and her best friend. They told me Olga’s name and about her life.
Now the fatal horrific accident had a name and face, making it even more realistic. If the community shows no outrage and creates no awareness, it seems that we are accepting these dangers as a part of normal life. They are not. We have the right to safer streets for us and for our children. I am writing this letter, with total sadness and outrage, appealing to you to start making some noise and creating awareness by demanding safer streets for our community.
Please stay tuned for a walking memorial for Olga, to honor her and to call attention to the dangers in our neighborhood. I hope that you will join us.
With kind regards,