In Brief

Death of Artist Devra Freelander Sparks New York City Conversations About Bike Lane Protection

Bushwick-based 28-year-old artist Devra Freelander was killed after she was struck by a cement truck; Mayor Bill de Blasio declared an emergency, vowing to increase protection of bicycle lanes.

Devra Freelander (photo by Walter Wlodarczyk and courtesy Times Square Arts)

Artist Devra Freelander was tragically killed yesterday, July 1, after being struck by a cement truck while cycling on Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. The accident is still under investigation, the NYPD said.

Freelander, who was 28 at her death, made sculptures and videos that “explore climate change and geology from an ecofeminist and millennial lens,” her website says. She received her MFA in Sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design in 2016, and her BA in Studio Art from Oberlin College in 2012. In March 2019, Freelander exhibited “Eventual Artifact” (2019), a collaborative project with artist Gracelee Lawrence commissioned by Times Square Arts and Spring/Break Art Show. “Eventual Artifact” is a fluorescent column interspersed with copper shapes of imported fruits, hands, CDs, sneakers, Styrofoam cups, and other techno-capitalist artifacts. A human hand reaching out to a mobile phone emerges from the column’s cap, which is constructed as a 3D scan of a topographic sample of Manhattan bedrock in Central Park.

Freelander was also a founding member of the artist collective MATERIAL GIRLS and a recipient of the 2016 St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award. In 2017, her work was mentioned in Hyperallergic’s list of the year’s top 15 Brooklyn art shows.


The death of Freelander, a Bushwick resident, marks the 15th cyclist death on the streets on New York City this year, more than double the rate of cyclist deaths by July 1 last year.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency in an interview following the accident. “We absolutely have an emergency on our hands,” the Mayor told NY1’s Inside City Hall Monday evening. “[W]hat we have been seeing these last few weeks and months is not acceptable. We’re going to do a full-court press to stop it.” De Blasio insisted that the city’s Vision Zero street-safety plan is effective, but vowed to increase police presence to protect bicycle lanes around the city.

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