Oct. 12, 2021 By Max Parrott
A man on an e-bike was killed in Long Island City Monday morning after a pickup truck driver lost control of his vehicle, crossed the street and plowed into the rider who was in a bike lane.
Police said the e-bike driver, Thomas Panto, a 32-year-old man from North Corona, was going north within the confines of the bike lane on the Honeywell Street Bridge when the 18-year-old driver of a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado lost control and slammed into Panto who was going in the opposite direction.
Emergency responders subsequently shuttled Panto to NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst where he was pronounced dead.
The Silverado driver remained at the scene, where he told police that he lost control of his vehicle and careened into the bike lane across the street. The investigation is ongoing by the New York City Police Department Highway Patrol Collision Investigation Squad.
When the Honeywell Street Bridge—which goes over Sunnyside Yards from Skillman Avenue to Northern Boulevard—first had a bike lane, it was listed as a protected lane by Department of Transportation for two years, meaning that it was bordered by flex posts, as Streetsblog reported.
By 2018 the DOT downgraded it to a regular painted lane on its bike map, indicating that it took down or stopped replacing flex posts that had been damaged by cars.
By Monday night Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris sent out a statement lamenting Panto’s death and calling on the mayor to install stronger protective bike infrastructure.
“Thomas Panto was killed on Honeywell Street in Long Island City, Queens, a street with a painted, unprotected bike lane. It is like every painted, unprotected bike lane in New York City: a parking lot or travel lane, regularly abused by drivers, so much so that even Google Street View shows a dumpster parked there. At best, painted bike lanes are useless, but at worst, they are a reckless invitation from the city of New York to its residents, inviting New Yorkers to ride a bike while failing to adequately protect them.”