How Can New York City Make Its Streets Safer For Cyclists?

New York City needs dedicated lanes for bicyclists and e-scooter riders, argues a new column in City Limits. According to the author, transportation researcher and advocate Rachel Weinberger, the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the urgent need for a renewed investment in protected infrastructure.

The city’s empty streets in the early days of the pandemic led to reckless driving and traffic deaths, the column notes, but the return to pre-pandemic traffic levels have seen gridlock, injuries, pedestrian deaths, and cyclist fatalities. “Instead of returning to what we had, we have a chance to do better,” Weinberger writes. “We can use this moment to position ourselves in ways that best serve New Yorkers—those who have stayed, those who will return, and the newcomers who will power New York’s next cycle of growth.”

The column argues that the city must change the status quo of its roadways, which have 10,000 miles of car lanes and 3 million parking space, but only 1,240 miles of bicycle lanes, of which only 500 miles are protected. “Our city streets are designed for cars even when more than half of New York households do not own cars,” Weinberger writes. Whereas cities like Paris, London, and Bogota adapted to the pandemic by adding bicycle lanes and decreasing pedestrian and cyclist deaths, New York City arguably lags behind. Authorities have not responded to the increase in the use of e-scooters, e-bikes, and e-mopeds by creating protected lanes, and the deaths of three Revel moped riders resulted in the company pausing its service in the city.

The column argues that policy changes and infrastructure investments, such as the construction of a protected cycling network, will make the streets safer for cyclists and e-bike riders, many of whom are essential workers who keep the city functioning during the pandemic. It also points to the proliferation of SUVs, “which in recent years have accounted for a growing portion of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities,” as an impediment to roadway safety efforts.

More information about advocates’ efforts to make New York City safer for cyclists is available via City Limits.

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