Family and neighbors of the two men killed by a box truck driver on the Upper East Side spent Christmas in mourning — as the city’s incoming transportation commissioner pledged to take action to bolster Big Apple bike lanes with stronger protection from vehicles.
The truck dragged and killed deliveryman Taurino Morales, 37, and pedestrian Delfino Maceda, 46, at 9:20 a.m. Friday morning at Third Avenue and East 61st Street– where the city this summer installed a painted green bike lane without any physical barrier.
In the wake of the accident, incoming Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez on Saturday promised to replace his pledge to swap half of all plastic protected bike lanes “with sturdier and more permanent structures within the first 100 days” of his boss Eric Adams taking office.
“My sincere condolences go out to the family of the two New Yorkers who lost their lives during yesterday’s crash,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “The fact of the matter is we are not only facing a pandemic due to COVID, but a pandemic of unsafe streets that must be tackled head on in order to curtail what are preventable deaths and serious injuries.”
Morales, who lived in Harlem, left behind a wife and two kids in Mexico in 2018 to earn money to support them, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help pay for his body’s repatriation and burials. His family still lives in the Mexican state of Guerrero, the page said.
Morales’ neighbor Mario Ortiz, 25, also a deliveryman, said the deceased worked for DoorDash and was always friendly.
“He was a nice guy. He works a lot,” Ortiz said. “I feel sad.”
Mario Cinto, the manager of a nearby Foodtown knew the hard-working dad as a customer.
“I feel bad for his family, trust me. It’s not just because he is from my country, but I can feel what the family is going through,” said Cinto. “We come here for a better life, we don’t expect it to end like this.
People inside Maceda’s Corona, Queens apartment declined to comment Saturday.
The Baldor’s truck driver, meanwhile, has not been charged in the incident. Police sources and witnesses said he claimed to have kicked the truck into gear by accident, shouting “The gas stuck, the gas stuck!” in the aftermath of the collision.
Groups such as Transportation Alternatives have called on the city to get delivery trucks like the one that killed Morales and Maceda off Manhattan streets entirely.
Echoing Rodriguez, at least one Upper East Sider pinned the death on bad bike lane design by the city, noting that an earlier, “temporary” bike lane in 2020 had more visible barrier separation from cars.
“When there was a temporary bike lane in place, they had plastic bollards. When they put in the permanent bike lane, they put nothing there,” said Liam Jeffries, a 23-year-old student whose apartment building abuts the bike lane. “It’s been a problem. The fact that it took two people dying for that problem to be apparent is just abhorrent to me.”