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Is New York City Bicycle Friendly?

Bicycle Accidents

On January 30th, a truck hit and killed a 54-year-old man on a bicycle.  According to police and witnesses at the scene, the truck was heading south on Vandervoort Street in Brooklyn.  The driver made a left turn from the right lane in the middle of the block.  He crossed the northbound lanes attempting to enter a driveway.

The truck hit the bicyclist while making the turn pinning the rider under the truck.  The man later died of those injuries in the hospital.

This was the first bicycle fatality of 2020.  In 2019 there were 29 bicycle fatalities on New York City streets.  That number was almost triple the ten fatalities in 2018.

Is All of New York City Bicycle Friendly?

According to the real estate brokerage company, RedFin, New York City is the 8th most bicycle-friendly city in the United States.

“Vision Zero” only impacted parts of Manhattan and very few sections of Brooklyn and Queens

In 2014, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio implemented a project called “Vision Zero,” in which he planned to bring the number of traffic accidents down to zero.  This project is based on an initiative in Sweden, where researchers say that fatalities are less about “accidents” and more about poor street design.

The plan includes a wide variety of changes, such as slower speed limits, harsher penalties for speeding and other violations, speed cameras, and increased enforcement.  While fatalities have lowered overall, the changes were mostly based in lower Manhattan and the northern parts of Brooklyn and parts of the western end of Queens.  New York City made no significant changes in The Bronx and Staten Island.  Neither were the more residential and inner-city neighborhoods of southern Brooklyn and the vast majority of Queens.

While the RedFin survey, and others like the bicycle advocacy group, Peopleforbikes, show New York being bike-friendly. That is because they take the five boroughs as a single entity.  Individually, there would be a very different story.  As there was a sharp increase in fatalities in 2019, the “Vision Zero” initiative seems to have stalled.

Bicycle Safety is the Responsibility of Bicycle Riders and of Motor Vehicle Drivers

In the end, bicycle safety is something that both bicycle riders and drivers have to take seriously.  When available, bikers should remain in bicycle lanes and always follow the rules of the road.  Riders should obey red lights and stop signs like any other vehicle.  Bicycle riders should not weave in and out of traffic.  While bikes are nimble and can make fast, sudden movements, drivers in cars and trucks cannot react fast enough if a bicycle veers into their lane.

Drivers have also to take note that they are driving a vehicle that weighs at least two tons. They can kill a bicyclist very easily if they turn or change lanes without checking around them as they proceed.

The Bronx and Staten Island are Not Nearly as Safe

Checking the safety records of the five boroughs of New York City, Manhattan and Brooklyn would still be in the top 10 in the country since most of the “Vision Zero” initiatives were focused there.  Queens would still be in the top 20, ranking 16th nationally.  The Bronx drops to 45th, and Staten Island drops out of the top 50 at number 51.

Bicycle riders should protect themselves and make smart decisions.  Besides using marked lanes, riders should wear helmets and brightly colored clothes.   Bicycle riders should make sure their bikes have lights and reflectors, use hand signals, and use horns or bells.  Most fatalities happen at intersections.  Bicycle riders should never assume the coast is clear. Always stop at red lights and watch for turning vehicles.

There are Many Obstacles for Bicycle Riders

When it comes to bicycle accidents, there are other types of incidents other than being hit by a motorist on the street.  New York City streets have a lot of obstacles, such as speed bumps, water grates, and manhole covers.  Any of which, if in disrepair, can cause a serious injury to a bicyclist.  There are also large metal construction plates that can cause a road to be uneven and slippery, especially in wet conditions.

Another type of injury is when a person opens a door, and a bicyclist cannot move, brake, or react in time.  This is called being “doored,” and it can cause a serious injury.  Another aspect of an opened door injury is being hit by another vehicle after swerving away from the door. There is also a risk of hitting another bike, a pedestrian, or other types of obstacles.

New York State Law Protects Bicycle Riders from being “Doored”

New York State also has laws in place to protect bikers from being “doored,” including Vehicle Traffic Law Section 1214, which is specific to opening and closing vehicle doors on the side of moving traffic.

“No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”

Call the Law Offices of Marc S. Albert

If you have been injured while riding a bicycle through the streets of New York or Long Island, call the Law Offices of Marc S. Albert.  With over 20 years of personal injury experience, Marc Albert is well versed in the law regarding bicycles and traffic in New York City and State.  Marc handles all of his cases personally, so you benefit from Marc’s vast experience in these matters.  Call our office at 855-252-3788.