March 15, 2019 By Jon Cronin and Christian Murray
A vigil will be held Saturday to pay tribute to the bicyclist who was tragically killed on a Hunters Point street Thursday morning.
The vigil will be held on the corner of Borden Avenue and 2nd Street, where Robert Spencer, 53, was killed while riding his bike to work.
Spencer, according to the police report, was traveling west bound on Borden Avenue—against the flow of traffic—at around 7:50 a.m. when he was struck while riding through a red light. He was hit by a 51-year-old female driver who was traveling southbound on 2nd Street who had the green light, according to the report.
Spencer, who was not wearing a helmet, was transported to Mount Sinai Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival.
The driver, who was in a 2014 Chevy Cruze, remained on the scene. The police have not found any criminality in terms of the crash at this time. However, the investigation is ongoing.
Juan Restrepo, the Queens organizer for Transportation Alternatives and an organizer of the vigil, said that tomorrow’s attendees will commemorate Spencer’s life and will pay tribute to all those who have died bicycling on city streets.
He said that the group aims to reinforce the message that more needs to be done to make city streets safer and prevent these deaths.
He said that while it’s easy for some to focus on the fact that Spencer may not have been following the rules, it should not be forgotten that the underlying issue is public health crisis. He said people who follow the rules are constantly getting killed.
He said that Transportation Alternatives will also be advocating for the passage of a bill that would require the DOT to meet a list of Vision Zero requirements when it redesigns arterial streets. Should the requirements not be met, the city would have to publicly disclose why.
Restrepo added that Transportation Alternatives is currently reaching out to Spencer’s family to see if they would like to attend the vigil.
A close friend of Spencer’s plans to be there.
“He’s been my best friend for 30 years,” said Richard Livingstone, a Bronx resident. “He was the most kind, charming and loving guy I know. He would stop whatever he was doing to help you and give you the shirt off his back or the last penny in his pocket.”
“Robert was like a mentor to me,” said Livingstone, who met Spencer in 1985 when the two worked as security guards at a building complex in the Bronx.
“He lived the way most of us want to live our lives. He never stayed still. Always active,” Livingstone said of his friend.
He noted that although Spencer made his living working for the Department of Homeless Services, his passion was mechanics. He owned two motorcycles and a Jeep that he loved to work on.
Livingstone added that Spencer had been approved for a loan to buy a Harley Davidson CVO Street Glide, “his dream motorcycle,” the day before he was struck.
“We were just talking about taking it out and riding our motorcycles together,” he said.
Livingstone added that although he loved his Jeep and motorcycles, fitness was also a passion and he rode his bicycle to work as often as the weather would allow.
Livingstone said that Spencer is survived by an adult son and three siblings.
(Hunters Point, Queens) Bicyclist Hit by Car – reported on @CitizenApp_NYC #ProtectTheWorld https://t.co/1Sm6A7xfLA
— Rodrigo Salazar (@pabilas) March 14, 2019
Note: The headline has been modified to include the word “reportedly.”
The account of the crash is based on the NYPD police report, as reflected in the article. The article also states that the investigation is ongoing. The word “reportedly” in the headline reflects that this is the account of the NYPD.
Robert was a kind and gentle person. This was a tragic event that I hope never happens to anyone else. At the end of the day he just trying to get to work in the morning. The bashing of Robert is unnecessary and hurtful to all who knew him personally. Please stop.
Let Mr. Spencer’s horrible demise be a cautionary tale for all of us. No amount of safety improvements are going to overcome riding against traffic, running red lights without exercising extreme caution, or riding without head protection. He sounds like a beautiful human being who did what we each do every day; he made a mistake…. I am extending my heartfelt condolences to Robert’s family, loved ones, and dear, and clearly devoted, friends. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
The world lost a great man. Keep all your politics and cyclist bashing views to yourselves. Ive known Mr. Spencer and his family almost my whole life and they are grieving right now lets not lose sight of that. A good man, friend ,father, brother and son is gone and its a horrible feeling that no family should have to go through. My prayers go out them.
The car! Clearly she was going more than 25 mph and had to see him with drivers side damage. Unless she was texting and not looking.
Please look for the photos on twitter which shows the damage.
RIP MY DEAR FRIEND
1. Was the driver texting or on the phone?.
2. Every time I’ve seen Robert riding his bike to the waterferry, always riding on the correct side of traffic and riding slow!!!
3. Has the NYPD checked video from 155 Borden ave, 5109 2nd street. Or even the midtown tunnel building that’s in the middle of Borden Ave which has a camera on the top looking down on that intersection?.
4. Not fair putting blame on Robert and not the driver!!!!
Correct to all of that. And the media keeps saying “against traffic” but Borden DOES go westbound at 2nd Street, and is two-directional, and 2nd Street has a two directional protected bike lane. Like, where is the media getting all of this false information from?
Simple guy, have you ever thought that it is possible to drive on the wrong side of the road, against traffic like so many bicyclist do. Regardless if it’s a two way street.
Hard to swallow the truth
Thats good maybe the city will make them get a lic and insurance.. If us driver follow rules they shld too, Him them tickets
Agreed, since drivers regularly break the rules we shouldn’t hold cyclists to a higher standard.
Today around noontime, 30 or more bicyclists literally took over 43rd Avenue riding as a pack towards L.I.C., doing wheelies and other acrobatics forcing oncoming cars to the side and pedestrians scrambling to safety. No helmets were seen.
So sorry to read about this. A tragedy for all. Each day really is precious & we never know what can happen. Sounds like this man touched many lives & tried to help people. Strength & love to all..
He definitely was and a Beautiful Soul taken away from us too soon!
Comments about culpability are going to be one sided because sadly, Mr. Spencer is not around to tell his side of the story.
He was a beautiful person working for Homeless Services and will be greatly missed for all that he has done for everyone who has been in contact with him.
Any negative speculation designed to remove responsibility from the driver should be withheld until the final police report is prepared. Just as I would not say that the driver was drunk at the time because I am awaiting the final report.
I just wish the outcome of the report is that my friend would be back with me.
I will miss him greatly.
Very well said Nenner. Spencer is truly missed!
I was hit by a hit and run driver and had no helmet. I was knocked unconscious and needed 40 stitches to my face and head. I learned the hard way. If you don’t use a helmet, rethink that.
Why put that the deceased ran the red light when the investigation is ongoing?
Others have already mentioned the inconsistencies, so I won’t compound on that and will await a thorough investigation of what happened.
I have seen firsthand the excruciating pain families go through during these investigations, many times through reading reports like this one because the police say nothing.
Please be considerate in this delicate time.
First and foremost lets be clear that “according to the Police Report” really is saying nothing more than “according to the motorist who got to tell her side of the story.” Sadly Mr. Spencer is dead, so we have no idea if he would have had the same version. And the officers were not there to witness the crash, so it is simply her version of events. Also, “against the flow of traffic” makes no sense. If true that would mean he was on the far (south) side of the intersection when she hit him. How did she not see him? Because of a wide bike lane and a couple travel lanes on Borden, he would have moved 20-30′ into the intersection before reaching the point of collision. Plenty of time to have been seen and avoided. Also, his bike ends up on the Southwest corner of the intersection – so on the far side from where the driver was coming from, to the right of her claimed path of travel, and in a spot where the driver could not go because of a construction fence extending in to the road. Something does not add up. Where his bike came to rest actually suggests either he was on the correct (north) side of Borden going with the flow of traffic (west) when he was hit so hard that he and the bike were thrown across a 40′ intersection; or that he was actually on 2nd going either north or south, when he was hit by the driver going west on Borden and turning left on to 2nd, and knocking him all the way across a 40′ intersection. That doesn’t happen at 25 mph, if the driver was doing the speed limit.
I have also seen some pics of damage to the front driver-side of the vehicle, which likewise make no sense given where the bike came to rest, if you accept the driver’s version of events. There is a lot more to this story than what the driver told the cops. Lets see what the full CIS report shows. And reporters – ask more questions. Look at the scene. Get curious about how what you have been told can be true given what you can see with your own eyes.
He was traveling west bound on Borden which means against the flow would put him on the North side of Borden beside the Hunters Poibt Crossings building. He was struck as he came into the intersection and it pushed his bik across the whole of Borden to the contraction area. There were more witnesses there than just the driver.
Westbound means in the direction of Manhattan. That is the north side of Borden. To go against the flow he’d have to be on the south side, going against eastbound traffic.
This comment makes no sense. Borden is a 2 way street. If he was going west on the north side of the street, he was going WITH the flow of traffic.
Quit trying to deflect and change the facts where it is convenient for the NYC bicyclist lobby to push their selfish one sided agenda. As an impartial pedestrian who bikes and does not drive, I have seen every day cyclists fly through red lights, going against opposite traffic, and even riding on sidewalks nearly colliding with pedestrians.
Dear god, a “one time I saw a cyclist run a stop sign” rant on THIS post? Have some respect.
I thank you so much, for this comment… And that story sure does sound fishy… Knowing Spencer personally, it was not in his character to break laws or do anything that would endanger himself or others… He was a very respectable and humble man… Who will be missed by many… Myself and many co-workers are in awe of this tragedy… For me it is soooo surreal… That was my guy… Smh… And to add I was at Borden and 2nd St today… And saw the flow of traffic… So he drivers story definitely doesn’t add up…
As a dear and close friend since 6th grade, everything I knew about Spencer he was a law abiding citizen whether driving his Jeep, Motorcycle or Bicycle. The impact from the oncoming car that caused his death proves that the driver was going fast and could not hit the breaks in time to avoid the impact or swerve to avoid hitting my friend who was loved by so many including me. Justice and Change Needs to Happen Now.. RIP MY LOVE
“He said that the group aims to reinforce the message that more needs to be done to make city streets safer and prevent these deaths.
He said that while it’s easy for some to focus on the fact that Spencer may not have been following the rules, it should not be forgotten that the underlying issue is public health crisis. He said people who follow the rules are constantly getting killed.”
Why lie when the majority of cyclists in New York City seem to rebel against the rules established for them. I hate generalizations, but based on what I—and possibly most New Yorkers—have seen, education seems to be a downfall.
How could Spencer have been riding against the flow of traffic? Borden Avenue runs east/west for its entire length. The only way he could have been against the flow is if he was riding on the south side of the street. That would have meant he would have blown a light turned red for at least three or four seconds, not turned his head to see the car already in the intersection, and ignored traffic coming from the other direction with a blind spot on the corner. It seems highly unlikely that someone who lived two blocks away would be so incredibly reckless at an intersection he knew presumably well.
You think people are not reckless in their own neighborhood??? Where do you live??? On what planet?
Let’s find out all the facts prior to assigning blame for this tragic accident and yse it to advocate for one’s own agenda.