Are Cyclist and Pedestrian Fatalities on the Rise in NYC?

The recent tragic death of a cyclist and activist in New York City has raised concerns about the possibility of rising bike and pedestrian fatalities in the city, according to a recent report by ABC News. Sarah Pitts, a Brooklyn activist and assistant district attorney, was struck and killed by a tour bus on her ride home from a meeting with Black Lives Matter activists in early September, the report states. It adds that the location where she was hit, a section of Brooklyn’s Wythe Avenue below the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, “has a bike lane, but it’s not protected.”

Pitts’ death was one of 17 cyclist fatalities in New York City since the beginning of 2020, according to ABC. However, New York Police Department data reveal that six of those deaths “happened in the first two weeks of September,” raising concerns that the city might be in for rising cyclist fatalities. In a statement about the upsurge, which also includes the September 10 death of a 29-year-old pedestrian crossing the street, activist Danny Harris said the city has been lax in its implementation of accident-prevention measures: “These are preventable deaths… Last year was shameful. We saw an almost 200% increase in bike fatalities, and now we’re on track to reach a similar number, especially as we have a city that’s not even open yet. The responsibility falls squarely on Mayor de Blasio.”

Responding to concerns about cycling deaths, one NYPD official noted that the city has doubled its speed cameras since the beginning of the year, while observing that the danger for cyclists is likely to rise as cars return to the city streets. “Less vehicles out there does help for the cyclists,” the officer, Transportation Chief Nilda Hofmann, told ABC. “Also, we have more speed cameras out there, January compared to now. We have more bike lanes.”

Sarah Pitts’ brother, John Pitts, was unsatisfied with these measures, telling CBS: “For six deaths to happen in September alone is horrifying. It’s a failure of Vision Zero, and unless real effort is put into making that number zero, there’s going to be another grieving family next week, next year, and that shouldn’t happen.” More information is available via ABC’s report here.

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