Bicyclist Killed on Road Crossing Central Park Where Activists Want a Protected Lane

A 50-year-old doctor was hit and killed by a school bus full of kids crossing Central Park on the 96th Street transverse on Wednesday. The cyclist hit a curb or a patch of ice and fell before being run over, police told news outlets. None of the 14 children on the bus were reported injured, and the driver has not been charged.

Dr. Daniel Cammerman was a well-known pediatrician affiliated with Mt. Sinai. His death comes amid a push for crosstown protected bike lanes through Central Park. While cars are banned in the park, it’s not easy for cyclists to get across the park quickly in a safe manner. Months ago, Transportation Alternatives set up a petition asking for protected lanes and pedestrian improvements at various cross-park roads, including the 96th Street transverse road.

“Give cyclists protected, dedicated connections between Central Park and the Hudson River Greenway with the goal of river-to-river protected routes in mind, so that we can bike across town easily and safely!” the petition says. It had 937 signatures as of Thursday.

NEWS | 39 comments | permalink
    1. Richard Fine says:

      The partial shared [with pedestrians] cross town bike path created several years ago at 96 st never was a full crossing, has fallen into disrepair, and is poorly marked. We had hoped this was the first of several cross town bike routes, but it was followed with nothing. I have been trying to get a response from the Conservancy for months on any update for that route and others to create. Have heard nothing. The need is so strong for so many. Where does one turn for action?

    2. Mark Moore says:

      Don’t bike on that transverse, take the designated bike path to the south.

      • Bob says:

        The existing, largely unmarked cross park bike path requires a cyclist to enter the park at 100th, ride south to 97/96th, cross a poorly light, poorly paved path, exit on to the park drive and ride back up to 102nd. 102nd is Westbound, so you then have to ride in a very busy bus lane down 5th to 96th, to continue on a busy road with no bike lane. Calling this a bike route is insane and poorly though out.

        • MJ says:

          Exactly, you nailed it. It’s a horrible path and I noticed that it’s so poorly designed it inspires people to bike up to use the 102th st transverse against the direction of bike traffic.

        • Paul says:

          The existing path is terrible but it does exist, and the detours to and from 100 st can be avoided by walking a bike 200 yards from the park entrances on both E and W 97 to the path.

          It’s desperately in need of improvement and completion; that is where the bike lobby’s focus should concentrate.

        • Pedestrian says:

          Entering at 96th St, there is a cyclist-accessible approved bike path that runs inside and across the park, just north of the tennis courts, INSIDE a chain-link fence that separates the path above from the transverse below. The path ends on the East Drive, a two-minute walk from 5th Avenue @ 97th St. Continuing on foot, a cyclist could walk his bike one minute further to 98th St, and proceed east to the Mt. Sinai complex. I walked and timed this route this morning.

          While the inner-park path has some inclines to it, and is not perfectly maintained, neither is the transverse, which is narrow, pocked with potholes, and heavily trafficked by cars and buses.

          Ultimately, it is a question of judgment whether to take to the streets on a bicycle, at rush hour, on a bitterly cold, icy morning, the day after a snow, when icy streets are a given.

          Unfortunately, you never hear so-called “transportation alternative” “advocates” advocating the application of good judgment, common sense, or self-preservation instincts.

          • Alta says:

            Really nice to blame a victim’s judgement the day after they are killed. You sound like a lovely person.

    3. Juan says:

      I like riding a bike. But cars are here and they’re not going anywhere. Making it more difficult for cars to get around isn’t going to reduce the number of cars – it will just create more congestion, which just makes things more dangerous.

      The current transverse roads are needed for cars to get across town. They were also built ages ago and would be very costly to widen. At their current widths, there is not adequate room for a bike line. I would never ride on one of those lanes as it is way too risky.

      The park is big enough that there has to be a way to create a relatively direct path across somewhere that doesn’t interfere with roads. But existing roads should not be sacrificed for bikes.

      My condolences to Dr. Cammerman and his family and friends. I also feel for the driver, who did nothing wrong but I am sure feels horrible, and the children on the bus.

    4. NYNY10024 says:

      Tragic. I knew Dr. Cammerman from Uptown Pediatrics. He was not our primary doctor, but has seen us for sick visits several times. I remember speaking to him once in the middle of the night for something that was probably not an emergency, but felt like an emergency at the time. He was always extremely nice, good with the kids, and a good doctor.
      I know his colleagues and many many parents who knew him are devastated. I can only imagine that is family is beyond devastated. I am heartbroken for them.

      • Ari Kocen says:

        Dr. Cammerman was our pediatrician for our first two boys. He was the kindest man, a father of young kids, i believe, and deserves to be remembered. I am really brought down by this.

    5. tim says:

      a terrible tragedy, heart goes out to the family; why not convert the sidewalk on the transverse into a shared bike path – pedestrians are rare on that sidewalk; yes, it’s narrow, but perhaps worth a trial period?

      • B.B. says:

        That is not wholly true. Pedestrians heavily use all of the transverses. More so after dark when not everyone feels safe walking through Central Park proper, especially alone.

    6. Kramsman says:

      My condolences to Dr. Cammerman, his family, friends as well as the bus driver. Dr Cammerman has been my son’s doctor for the past 10 years from the time he was 3. Caring, took a genuine interest in my son’s development, would talk about life beyond just physical health. He will be sorely missed.

    7. Christine E says:

      I have biked the transverse roads a few times, and they are terrible. It’s barely wide enough for 2-way car traffic, let alone bikes, and the road condition is poor with many hazards (holes, grates, water, street lights not working, etc.).

      There currently is no way to get by bike from the west to east side, or from the east to west side, without going all the way around the park. To prevent more tragedies, the DOT should make paths straight across the park, or reconfigure the transverse so that car traffic is one lane of one-way only, with the other lane for bikes. NYC drivers are very used to one-way roads so will quickly adapt. This should improve safety for drivers too, given how narrow is the current 2-way road.

      • Scott says:

        Actually if you’re uptown there’s an east-west service road at 102. Not open to vehicles. By taking this you also avoid that murderous hill between 110 and 100.

    8. SM says:

      I hope everyone realizes that NOTHING would have prevented this accident, unfortunately. He hit a patch of ice and slid ACROSS the road and was hit by an oncoming bus.
      Unless you put a solid divider between east/west traffic, there is nothing anyone could have done. Very tragic and unfortunate, but don’t blame the lack of cycle path on this accident.

      • Upper West Side Cyclist says:

        This account was not true. Both the bus and the doctor were traveling in the same direction, Eastbound. I have no idea where these initial reports could have come from. But I was there right after it happened.

        • Tag Gross says:

          Actually unless you have another report according to the NY Post:

          “Dr. Daniel Cammerman, 50, was riding east on the street that bisects the green-space around 8:40 a.m. when he hit the ice and was thrown into the westbound lane, according to cops.

          He was then struck by a yellow bus carrying 14 kids to the Museum of Natural History, cops and police sources said.”

          https://nypost.com/2019/12/18/cyclist-killed-by-school-bus-taking-kids-to-museum-of-natural-history/

          It makes sense that the doctor was on his way to work a bit before 9AM and the kids were on thier way to The Natural History Museum.

          • Josh says:

            The Post is the only source that says that the bus was heading to the Museum of Natural History and that the bus was heading Westbound. All other sources either do not say which way the bus was heading or say they were heading in the same direction.

            • Tag Gross says:

              It’s the police that said it:

              “…cops and police sources said.”

              Most of the other reporting online is newswire pickups with no actual reporting by the source.

    9. Stephanie says:

      I heard the sirens yesterday as I walked my dog. I cycle Citi bike weekly and would never brave the transverse, much too dangerous. Bikers, there’s a newly designated bike path through the park right at 96th street just north of the tennis courts. I walk my dog here daily and must watch out for cyclists, but happy to do so to avoid these tragedies!

      • Josh says:

        This is not a full cross path. For example, a cyclist crossing to the east like this one was would have been required to dismount and walk his bike from the East Drive to 5th Avenue, a fairly significant distance. That’s why many cyclists, myself included, use the transverse. It is the only truly direct path. Also, the path you are talking about is in such bad shape that it would destroy my road bike. You need a mountain bike or citibike to ride it.

      • Allison says:

        This 95th St park crossing is a designated shared path — for cyclists and pedestrians — that is well marked. It opened several years ago. There is also the 72nd St park crossing in either direction. However, this is generally crowded with tourists, runners, pedicabs and horse carriages and so can be tricky to navigate.

    10. B.B. says:

      Problem is all transverses have very little shoulder space; meaning those riding bikes do not have very much room. This is especially true when buses or large vehicles are passing.

      Some bikers have solved this problem by riding on those narrow transverse sidewalks. This causes more issues as there isn’t much room for pedestrians as it is so someone has to move aside.

      All these issues come down to same thing; a park that was laid out first for horses and carriages. That morphed into automobiles but still overall design remains.

      When cars were banned from CP everyone went on about how drivers should use the transverses as “that is what they are there for”… Well now what? Closing transverses to vehicle traffic is just never going to happen.

      Thanks to various twists and turns on most of the traverses carving out a bike lane would be difficult to nearly impossible.

      Only true easy and relatively safe way to cross east to west (or vice versa) through CP is by using 72nd street entrance/exit and crossing via Terrace Drive.

      Now that cars are banned totally from entering at those points and using Terrace Drive period it does make for easier biking. This only works however if one is going that far south or points below. But still with that new CPW bike lane it does make for a viable option.

      Years ago of course none of this mattered as people rode their bikes on paths through CP, but that has been long stopped.

    11. Larryk says:

      How about adding bike racks to crosstown buses. Might not be as fun but it’s surely safer for bikers.

      • Leon says:

        Excellent idea – I was thinking the same thing. In other cities I have seen buses with bike racks on the front. I am fine giving these people a free ride on the bus.

        I am all for people using bikes for exercise, to save the environment, etc. But the transverses weren’t built for bikes and they can’t be widened without huge costs so why risk your life to prove a point. It is very sad what happened to Dr. Cammerman but he should not have been there in the first place.

        In the meantime, it seems like the easy answer is to make the existing bike route across town better – I don’t think it would be too hard nor would it cost that much. And if bikers have to walk a short distance to make it work, so be it.

        • Josh says:

          You are aware that the transverses were not built for cars either, right? The automobile was still decades in the future when Olmsted designed the transverses. If they were adapted for motor vehicles after the fact, why couldn’t they be adapted to motor vehicles and cyclists/pedestrians as well?

          • Leon says:

            Cars are roughly the width of carriages, so that transition was relatively seamless. I’m sure there are plenty of bike advocates who want to make one or all of the transverses just for bikes but I don’t think that is realistic.

            To make it work for both cars and bikes, the transverses would have to be widened by 5-10 feet so there could be dedicated bike lanes in each direction. That would be a huge, complicated, expensive engineering and construction project.

            In a city with underperforming schools, homeless and underfed people, and countless other problems, this is not the best use of my tax dollars. If you have the tens of millions of dollars to donate to make this project work, feel free.

            • Christine E says:

              Use 1 lane for bikes and 1 for one-way cars. No widening required.

            • Leon says:

              What about buses? A lot of people count on the cross town bus routes. Making the transverses one way and diverting buses would be a nightmare. I don’t think there are enough bike riders who use this to justify the huge inconvenience for the countless bus riders (to say nothing of car drivers, but I know they are looked down upon around here).

            • Paul says:

              The transverse are essential for ambulances and other emergency vehicles.
              The notion that they should be one way, making for one mile detours for these vehicles, is absurd.
              A better bike lane needs to be built in the park.

        • B.B. says:

          Widening traverses cannot be done without serious redesign if not replacement of overpasses of which there are many.

          In order to widen transverse roads you’d have to take space from both sides of road thus extend things deeper into park. This likely would mean a total rebuild of some or all affected overpasses as their supports are on each side of road.

    12. Darwin Bearhead says:

      NOT BLAMING THE VICTIM HERE but the traverse is funky enough to keep motorists on awares. Use the bike/pedestrian path north of tennis courts described elsewhere. It stinks but it’s safe.

    13. ST says:

      Cue the demands for more bike lanes on the West Side.
      Why ride on the narrow transverse when you can ride in the park?

      • EBuzz says:

        The transverse is very narrow. Wouldn’t a bike lane cause more peril? Couldn’t a bike lane be built that would run along side the transverse in each direction?

        • B.B. says:

          You answered your own question.

          Traverse roads are already narrow with very little shoulder room. Just where do you intend to put *two* bike lanes yet still have two traffic lanes at same width?

          Large vehicles including buses cross the park via traverse roadways, and there are twists/curves. Often barely enough room for other traffic to pass without going over yellow line.

    14. SickOfDeblasio says:

      So many senseless deaths in the last week. Whether it is pedestrians in Times Square, Soho, or bicyclists or even students in the parks. Time to throw out the mayor, he has done nothing for this city and continues to thrive in this meaningless single party city. Maybe he will follow San Francisco and call these deaths tragic, but more like Quality of Life issues.

    15. Bruce says:

      Riding on any of the park transverses is a scary lifethreatening experience Perhaps paving a bicycle lane on the bridle path (just east west) might work north of 86 and at the northern end as well.

    16. KSF says:

      OUTRAGEOUS DEATH AT THE HANDS OF NYC ROAD AND PARKS DEPT WHOSE REFUSAL TO PROTECT CYCLISTS CROSSING CENTRAL PARK E TO W AND W TO E IS BEYOND COMPREHENSION!