The number of pedestrians injured by bicyclists in New York City increased 12 this year, according to the NYPD. In a summer with bicycle accidents dominating headlines, public safety advocates are now sounding the alarm bells for pedestrians. In a recent opinion-editorial published by The New York Post, the author argues that the two problems are both related to each other and caused by, among other factors, a bicycle culture that disregards traffic laws and safety.
According to the newspaper, Mayor Bill de Blasio has built more than 100 miles of protected bicycle lanes since coming into office. Studies consistently show that bicycle lanes create safer conditions for travelers of all kinds – pedestrians, bicyclists and car drivers. In addition to the expansion of infrastructure dedicated to bicycles, the city has also retrofitted intersections and lowered speed limits as part of its ‘Vision Zero’ initiative. Given the safety improvements, bicycling should have become safer in the city. In the first few years data show a sharp drop in accidents but this year the NYPD reports 127 pedestrian injuries, up from 113 recorded this time last year.
The author argues that bicycle lanes and the broader Vision Zero campaign may now be a victim of its own success. Because bicycling is now safer and more practical, more New Yorkers are choosing to bike. With more bicycle trips in the city it is likely that more accidents would occur, the author reasons. This may not provide a full explanation for the increase, though. The New York Post article describes a bicycle culture that appears to make its own rules – stop lights are disregarded by commuters, and electric bicycles hop onto sidewalks whenever convenient.
Speaking to the newspaper, one New York mother describes an “inch long scar” on her five-year-old child who was hit by a “speeding biker who clipped the girl.” An elderly woman described being hit by a bicyclists while in the crosswalk. The biker told police his brakes malfunctioned when he plowed into the woman and fractured her skull. According to The New York Post, the police merely issued the biker a summons and then released him. In response to the article, the NYPD says they are issuing more summons to bicyclists. This year, the NYPD says, they have issued almost 20,000 moving violations to cyclists – a ten percent increase from last year.
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