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Pablo Pasaran became a statistic Aug. 8 as he rode his bicycle to make a food delivery near the Ravenswood Houses in Long Island City.
The 26-year-old Bronx father of three was struck and killed there at the intersection of 21st Street and 35th Avenue by a vehicle driven by a suspected drug dealer during a high-speed police chase.
Pasaran is one of 10 known New Yorkers killed while riding a bicycle in the city in 2009, according to Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocatessafer streets for pedestrians and cyclists.
Although he has been reduced to a memory as one of the hundreds of pedestrians killed on city streets in the last decade, the New York City Street Memorial Project is working to ensure that he did not die in vain.
So the volunteer group has chained a whitewashed bicycle with a sign displaying the details of his death to a signpost on the corner where he lost his life.
The makeshift memorial is one of 11 “ghost bikes” the group dedicated Sunday morning and afternoon during its fifth-annual memorial ride and walk, a procession of about 20 bundled-up bikers who rode their bikes to several stops at similar memorials in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Woodside.
“We ride with love in our hearts, with sadness at what has been lost, and with rage that this has happened, and we hope we’ll never have to do this again,” said Curtis Anderson, a member of the group who participated in the ride.
Group members placed flowers in between the spokes of the bike’s wheels, then headed off to Woodside to honor James Langergaard, 38, who was struck by a vehicle and killed Aug. 4, at the busy intersection of 69th Avenue and Queens Boulevard.
A dedicated member of the city’s burgeoning pedestrian and cycling advocacy movement, Langergaard was a friend and colleague of several of the riders who braved whipping winds and frigid temperatures Sunday to remember their fallen fellow cyclists. Langergaard had volunteered with Transportation Alternatives since the early 1990s.
“James understood that bicyclists have never been given our fair share of rights on the streets,” said Ed Ravin, a Brooklyn resident, board member of Five Borough Bicycle Club and longtime friend of Langergaard’s, at the site of his death. “James worked for that in his life by riding everywhere, and in his spare time by volunteering. He literally died for the cause.”
James’s mother, Linda Langergaard, attended the dedication of his ghost bike and said she found it ironic that her son, who had fought so hard to make roads like Queens Boulevard safer for cyclists, would be killed as he was.
“This is a terrible intersection,” she said. “I hope that people become more aware of the danger to cyclists and that drivers are more aware.”
The cyclists paid their respects, then headed on to Brooklyn for further remembrance activities. As they made their way from site to site, their faces grew flushed with cold and ice chunks peppered the full beard of one hardy rider, but their resolve did not falter as they continued their work drawing attention to the ongoing problem of pedestrian fatalities on New York City streets.
“We’re a little bit crazy, but we believe in this,” said group member Leah Todd of Brooklyn.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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