Jill Tarlov, the 59-year-old mother of two who was hit by a bicyclist inside Central Park at West 63rd street on Friday, has died, according to a statement from her family. Tarlov, who suffered severe head injury in the incident, had been kept alive by a ventilator.
Her husband Mike Wittman, a CBS executive, released a statement:
“My wife was beautiful in every way imaginable. Jill was the most amazing mother to Matthew and Anna, who taught them above all that kindness, compassion, and a spirit for life were the right morals to live by. Everyone who had ever met her was somehow made better by her company.
Even though she has been taken from us far too soon, her spirit will live on forever. On behalf of our family, I would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and request privacy during the difficult times ahead.”
The rider who hit Tarlov, Jason Marshall, has not been charged.
This is the second person killed since August by a bicyclist in Central Park. In the aftermath, the Central Park police plan to more stringently enforce laws demanding that bicyclists yield to pedestrians and stop at red lights, according to a letter from a cycling group that met with the police. The Century Road Club Association, a bicycling group that rides in the park, posted the following notice for its members:
“Today, members of the CRCA Board met with Central Park Police, at their request, to discuss how groups like ours may collaborate in educating our members and the public on park safety. In particular, we were asked to communicate that enforcement of the following violations would increase in the near future: 1) failure to yield to pedestrians, 2) failure to stop at red lights, and 3) wearing headphones/earbuds in both ears.”
The CRCA says it will spread the word to bicyclists to act more responsibly: “We need your help in spreading the word to all of your teammates and friends about the importance of how we conduct ourselves in Central Park. Most members are doing the right thing, but we know it only takes one moment of bad judgement from one individual to cause major problems for all of us.”
Of course, most of our readers would dispute the notion that this was one bad actor making a single mistake — bicyclists racing through Central Park have been ignoring laws to stay within the speed limit, yield to pedestrians and stop at red lights for years. And as we’ve heard from several readers: after they nearly run you and your kid down, they curse at you too!
Although the park police have occasionally cracked down, bicyclists have tended to push back against enforcement and police have tended to pull back. The temporary enforcement measures do not seem to have had any lasting impact. We wrote about this two years ago and noted that as the park gets more crowded, the law-breaking was bound to result in a severe crash.
Even other bicycling advocates are pushing back against the culture of entitlement among lycra-clad Central Park bicyclists. The blogger from Bike Snob NYC wrote after the crash that killed Tarlov: “This is not the Central Park of 20 years ago. It is full of people pretty much all the time. If you need to get a workout on a bike while you’e in there, go hard up the hill where you can make a maximum effort without gathering much speed. And if you have time to ride your bike in the middle of a weekday afternoon you have time to head out for a “real” ride in an appropriate setting.”
It would also seem to make sense to ban the use of aerobars, which allow riders to shift their weight forward, but can make it harder to get to the brakes (contrary to some initial reports, Marshall’s bike almost certainly had brakes, but the aerobars tend to make the brakes simply harder to reach). Bicycling magazine notes that people should not use aerobars in crowded areas: “you’re simply too far from the brakes and unable to react quickly to obstacles or pack maneuvers.”
Hopefully, the Central Park police will also be meeting with people who feel threatened by bicyclists — not just the bicycling groups — in the coming weeks.