Family of Kingston man struck and killed by bus while cycling to pursue legal action against city

The bike lane near the intersection of Greenkill Avenue and Wilbur Avenue. (Photo by Will Dendis)

Last month, Kingston resident Darryl Savage, 54, was killed after being struck by a bus at the intersection of Greenkill Avenue and Wilbur Avenue. Now, his family is pursuing legal action against the City of Kingston and the State of New York, and possibly the Birnie Bus company.

Savage’s four children have filed a notice of claim, which is a precursor to a lawsuit, with O’Connor & Partners, claiming that the bike lane was unsafe and city officials knew but failed to act.

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“In any case against a municipality you have to file a notice of claim,” said Kingston attorney Joseph O’Connor. “You have to give the municipality the opportunity to investigate.”

The police reported that the bicyclist was traveling in the new bike lane on Greenkill at around 2:15 p.m. on November 4 when he passed through a stop sign and was struck by the bus, which was making a right turn on to Wilbur. He died later at HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston.

While no tickets were issued and no charges were filed, O’Connor believes the city knew the intersection was dangerous and should have done something about it.

“Myself and my partner went to the scene and looked at it and both being bicyclists said it clearly looks dangerous,” said O’Connor. “We spoke to members of the community and neighbors who said they’ve been complaining to the city how dangerous it is.”

O’Connor said he hired design experts, consisting of an accident reconstruction and highway design team, to analyze the site where their preliminary reports found numerous problems.

“There were no real attempts to remedy the dangerous condition,” said O’Connor.

“It’s our position that this type of bike pathway is inappropriate for a road that has so many intersecting driveways and roadways,” said O’Connor about the upcoming lawsuit.

He explained how the city “essentially placed an 18-inch stop sign on the roadway … but because so many vehicles were running it over they removed it.” The stop sign was then placed on the shoulder in the grass area. “It was not consistent with the original design and, in our opinion, makes it much more dangerous,” said O’Connor “You’re not going to see the stop sign if you’re a bicyclist unless you’re looking off the roadway.”

During the November 10 Common Council meeting, just days after Savage’s death, there were a handful of public comments regarding the intersection.

“I know I wasn’t the only person who thought ‘what is going on here, someone is going to get killed,” said resident Jim Shaughnessy about the intersection during the November meeting. “It happened last week.”

The bike lane is part of the state’s Empire State Trail, which aims to create an unbroken, bike-friendly path, including dedicated bike trails and lanes alongside roads, from New York City to Buffalo.

Discussion regarding this part of Greenkill Avenue also came up at the Public Safety/General Government Committee meeting the previous week before Savage’s death on Wednesday, October 28.

City engineer John Schultheis said at the October 28 meeting that “it was a big change.” He described that the design was “unusual” and “new style design” with a two-way cycle track, rather than bike lanes in the same direction as traffic. “It functions a little bit different than people are used to,” said Schultheis. “We haven’t had specific complaints, but we are asking the NYSDOT to make some minor changes.”

The State Supreme Court claim was filed on Monday, December 14 by O’Connor, which names the City of Kingston as a defendant. The other two actions against the State of New York and potentially the Birnie Bus company will be filed at a later date.

City officials have not made any further comment regarding the crash or the intersection, following the advice of the city’s legal counsel.

 

There are 5 comments

  1. Nick Gelinas

    You should see this section of Greenkill Ave after the snow storm, a very unsafe condition. With businesses plowing into the Street and driving lanes taken away. This needs immediate attention before some one else gets killed. Look at the snow pile in the middle of the road where this guy was hit. Get real Noble do your job instead of hiding behind closed doors.

  2. ELLEN DIFALCO

    City engineer John Schultheis also evaluated the intersection months ago when the “No Turn on Red” sign was still in place. In his infinite wisdom, he declared the sign was no longer necessary and so down it came with no regard for how that ridiculous bike lane connection would cause confusion. It was only a matter of time before a tragedy occurred. That whole section is a blunder just for the sake of Empire State Trails. A total waste of money.

  3. Steven L. Fornal

    Based upon the headline: “Family of Kingston man struck and killed by bus while cycling to pursue legal action against city” I thought this was a dark, depraved government retribution story. Gov’mint killed somebody that was on his way to continue his fight against the city.

    Then I realized it was “Family of Kingston man, struck and killed by bus while cycling, to pursue legal action against city.”

    Ahh…commas.

    Oh, and Ellen Difalco? Let us know where AND WHEN you brought up the danger of City engineer John Schultheis’ decision to remove the No Turn On Right sign before tragedy struck. It is sooooo easy to second guess after-the-fact. You seem to do a lot of that. Still seeking to be Mayor???

  4. Karol Peck

    Ed Norman should learn how to do his job and provide leadership in the DPW. He must teach his employees how to plow, 10 feet from the curb is not plowing. Broadway was just as bad as all streets in the city. You and noble need to lead and not complain, giving tickets what did that accomplish, tow the cars. Get real Norman

  5. Jodi

    Very sad what happened here. I feel bad for his family. I have to question what
    happened though…….cyclist, by law, have to stop at stop signs just like in a vehicle. This article states “past through” the stop sign when he was hit by the bus. I cant tell you how many times I was at a stop sign ready to go through it when I bicyclist came out of no where in front of me. How can we avoid this happening again?! We need to bring awareness to this problem. I in no way place blame here either way. We need bicyclist to be aware of the laws so they will follow it. It is just as important as our vehicle laws. Prayers to his family

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