UPDATE: Park Volunteer in Medically Induced Coma After Being Hit by Bike

A 55-year-old woman is in critical condition after a biker hit her on West Drive.

UPDATE, Nov. 16, 9:34 p.m.: According to Nancy Moccaldi, a close friend, Linda Cohen was fully conscious for the first time today and is breathing on her own. Cohen, who was in a medically induced coma since Nov. 3, still is unable to speak, has a fractured skull and a fracured coccyx. 

A 55-year-old woman was struck by a bicyclist while she was walking in Prospect Park, leaving her in critical condition.

Linda Cohen, a Park Slope resident, was hit by the bike on Nov. 3, and taken to King’s County Hospital where she is currently in a medically induced coma, officials said.  

According to the NYPD, at around 2:50 p.m. Cohen had left the bridle path and stepped onto West Drive, near the Vanderbilt Street playground, when a speeding bicyclist, a 61-year-old male, hit her. 

“Prospect Park is deeply concerned about the serious accident. Linda Cohen is a dedicated, long-time volunteer at the park,” said Paul Nelson, a spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance (PPA). “Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family for a speedy and full recovery.”

The blog, A Walk in the Park, first reported the accident. 

Earlier this year, Prospect Park created the Prospect Park Road Sharing Taskforce to examine how park users (runners, walkers, competitive cyclists, recreational bikers) can safely share the park drives.

This past summer, after a pedestrian was seriously injured by a bicyclist, a Kensington resident created an online petition to request measures to make the relationship between two-leggers and two-wheelers safer. 

The Taskforce will hold a meeting on November 16 at 6 p.m. at the park’s Picnic House to discuss ways to ensure the safe enjoyment of the park’s drives for bikers and pedestrians.

When asked how bike riders can share the road safely, Caroline Samponaro, the director of bicycle advocacy for Transportation Alternatives (TA), which is a New York City bicycle, pedestrian and public transportation advocacy organization, said riders must always yield to pedestrians.

The organization has a “Biking Rules” campaign, which published a handbook outlining the rules of the road, what to do incase of an accident and biking street codes.

“The whole idea of biking rules is as your potential to cause harm increases, so does your responsibility to others on the street,” Samponaro said. “We see this as a hierarchy with pedestrians ruling, needing the most care from others, bike riders come next and then drivers need to be the most cautious and look out for pedestrians and bike riders.”

TA will be working closely with PPA to help educate bike riders in how to share the road. In response to Thursday’s incident, TA will station bike ambassadors in Prospect Park at the major “pinch points,” where the most congestion and most accidents occur, and set up slow-down check points for bikers and hand out the “Biking Rules” handbook.

Samponaro, a biker herself, said riders have a responsibility to make the road safer for all.

“In an ideal city we want people to be able to walk safely and not be scared. Cyclists have a role to play in making that the case,” Samponaro said. “At the end of the day we are all pedestrians at one point or another. It is important in a walking city that bikers are contributing to it being a positive and safe walking environment.” 

George Turner November 13, 2011 at 10:31 PM
As the previous post suggests, we can't really tell anything about how or why this happened. Based on my observations, it seems like cyclists don't generally understand how the rules of road apply to them. Until there is a shared understanding, this sort of thing is bound to happen. I live in Fulton Mall. When I cross Jay Street on my way home I have to step through cars and cross the bike path. I have almost been hit many times as cyclists don't seem to understand that red lights are for them too. They can't see me until I step into the bike lane because of cars parked on Jay. As a driver I have narrowly missed cyclists driving the wrong way down one way streets and ignoring red lights. Pedestrians have to stop...Drivers have to stop...Cyclist not so much...
NiBBLerWatch November 16, 2011 at 06:01 PM
Funny how this has nothing to do with bike lanes. Regardless, we're sure we speak for all of "the pro bike lane brigade" in wishing Ms. Cohen a speedy and complete recovery, and in urging all park stakeholders to work together to ensure the total safety of pedestrians.
Jennifer Medyuk November 22, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Bikers should have insurance is easy to say. I WISH I could have insurance for my bike and I WISH I as an adult needed a license to ride it but that does not exist. There is no such thing as a speeding biker; bikes are made to go fast, and if someone is exercising in the park, how slow would you expect them/us to go? As a pedestrian and a biker, I say from experience that it is a lot easier for a pedestrian to stop and start up again than for a biker, especially a fast moving. This woman know the park, and how bikers ride, she knows that bikes are going fast, but what she may not know is that at top speed, it's challenging to stop short. So often I see people jut out into a bike lane and expect the biker to stop. It’s also faster for everyone if the pedestrians yield to bikers that are in designated bike lanes. I would rather hit and injure someone that is walking in a bike lane than to swerve and hurt myself and damage my bike. This is a sad story, but don't demonize a bicker that was riding in a designated bike area. This is just an accident. Also, to be fair, the bridle path is not very visible from the road, and to a cyclist, it would appear that someone was just stepping out of the forest and not on a path. She should have been more careful. and greg, no biker is faster than a car. just as we can run as fast as we can, so too can people peddle. it's their man power and bikers can use it how they like
Lou Howort November 30, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Jennifer Medyuk writes below: "There is no such thing as a speeding biker; bikes are made to go fast, and if someone is exercising in the park, how slow would you expect them/us to go?" Really Jennifer? Cars are made to go faster than bikes. Does that mean that there is no such thing as a speeding car? Your logic is totally ridiculous. Why do you think that bikes and cars have brakes? To slow down, not to go fast. How fast do sane people expect bikes to go in the park? Slow enough not to hit any pedestrians regardless of whether or not a pedestrian is in the bike lane or not.
Sean March 22, 2012 at 02:54 AM
I'm coming from the cyclists standpoint; but when I do walk, I find myself looking out for my cyclist alter-ego for fear he'll crash into me. What is needed from both parties is empathy. I think there are a couple things that need to happen on both sides. As a cyclist, I plan ahead: I either ride early in the morning before work, or later in the evening after work. If there's a big event going on, I go to central park. I only really see the potential for accidents during the day, and especially on weekends (when serious cyclists could be venturing out of the city). Pro tip: Nothing wrong with riding or running on a cloudy or chilly day and having a quiet park all to your self. A fact I think many people overlook is that the circuit around the park is not set up as a conventional road, where pedestrians walk against traffic. Cyclists go one way (mostly) while pedestrians walk both ways. This is a contributor to accidents because you have pedestrians being overtaken by cyclists that they're not aware of. I've seen many instances where a pedestrian, back to traffic, will begin to cross the road diagonally. This is particularly dangerous because A) the pedestrian can't see in the direction of traffic B) Cannot hear an approaching cyclist and C) The cyclist often doesn't even realize that the pedestrian is crossing until its too late. Its a very common situation that both parties could have anticipated. Pro tip: Have a loud freewheel, like a rattlesnake.


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