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Slow Progress on Cyclist Safety in NYC

July 10, 2020

Despite rhetoric from Mayor de Blasio, New York City has not appreciably improved its safety record when it comes to cyclists. As NPR reports, cyclists have continued to suffer many fatal accidents. By the midpoint of 2019, for example, the city was on pace for more accidents than in the previous year. And as StreetsBlog reports, the number of cycling injuries jumped 43% in late March 2020.

Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious Vision Zero campaign calls for reducing all traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2024. Although we appreciate the ambition, the reality is that the city is not remotely close to reaching that number—at least not yet. Cyclists continue to suffer alarming injuries in accidents that are entirely avoidable.

Bike Lanes Are Key

As the NPR story makes clear, the key to improving cyclist safety in New York involves increasing the number of dedicated cyclist lanes. These lanes should be separated from the rest of traffic with permanent barriers. Otherwise, vehicles can park in the bike lane, or they will open doors in the way of cyclists trying to move down the road.

Sadly, the city is not building enough dedicated bicycle lanes to appreciably improve safety. Although the city builds around 60 miles of bicycle lanes each year, this still means that 4 out of 5 streets lack a bicycle lane. Decades could pass before enough lanes have been built to really improve safety.

The quality of the lanes matters, too. Protected, separated bike lanes are ideal. As StreetsBlog noted, a study of 12 large cities found that installing physical barriers to separate bicycle lanes from the rest of traffic dramatically increased safety, lowering both the number of deaths and serious injuries. These types of lanes are much safer than simply painting a bicycle lane a different color but allowing traffic to physically intrude on the space.

Cycling Continues to Increase in Popularity

According to Department of Transportation statistics, more people are riding bicycles than they were even a few years ago. The number of daily rides doubled between 2012 and 2017 and continues to grow.

Many people in our community cycle for pleasure. However, others do so to improve their health and avoid public transit, which is often crowded.

Building bike lanes might seem like a non-political issue. After all, who opposes cyclist safety? But for every bicycle lane installed, a street loses places to park. In a car-orientated city like New York, many residents resist the construction of bicycle lanes. This local resistance has certainly slowed down safety efforts.

Were You Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Contact our NYC Bicycle Accident Lawyer

We wish Vision Zero the best of success. However, cyclists struck by a motor vehicle should still protect their rights by contacting a lawyer at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman today. Our team has practiced in this area of law for decades, with impressive results to show for it.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our legal professionals, call 212-285-3300 or send in our contact form.


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