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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

New York Cyclist Fatalities Already Surpassed 2018 Numbers

Bicycle accidents are claiming lives at an alarming rate in New York City this year.

As of July 24, there had been 17 cyclist deaths in NYC since the start of 2019, according to an NBC 4 report. There were 10 cyclist fatalities in NYC in all of 2018.

There were two bicyclist fatalities and a cyclist left with critical injuries following collisions July 23 between bicycles and motor vehicles in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. A 13-year-old boy was struck and fatally injured while riding his bicycle on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown, Long Island on June 30.

Another cyclist in Queens was struck by an SUV just after midnight the day of the NBC 4 report and hospitalized in critical condition.

Cyclist deaths in New York continue to increase despite “Vision Zero,” Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to eliminate all traffic-related deaths by 2024. 

On July 25, Mayor de Blasio unveiled a new $58.4 million plan that includes rapidly installing more protected bike lanes, redesigning intersections to make them safer for cyclists and hiring 80 new transportation workers dedicated to bike improvements, according to The New York Times. The initiative is called “Green Wave: A Plan For Cycling In New York City.” 

Cyclists have the same rights to the road as other motorists in New York. When other drivers violate the rights of cyclists and cause serious accidents and injuries, the motorist may be held legally accountable through a civil lawsuit filed by the bicyclist or the rider’s family. As Long Island personal injury attorneys who represent bicycle accident victims, we at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe stand up for the rights of injured cyclists. We hold out hope for improvements that increase the safety of bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians in the City.  

What is the ‘Vision Zero’ Plan?

Vision Zero, which debuted in 2014, is a plan to use every tool available to improve safety on streets in every NYC borough with the goal of ending traffic deaths. The plan included:

  • Expanding enforcement against moving violations such as speeding and failing to yield
  • Redesigning streets and interchanges to calm traffic and improve safety
  • Increasing penalties for dangerous drivers.

In the annual report released in March 2019, the City says overall traffic deaths have fallen each year for a decrease of one-third compared to 2013 even though there are now more cyclists than ever on the streets of New York. Pedestrian deaths have decreased by 37 percent since 2013, as well.

The report credits the Department of Transportation’s program of:

  • Street redesigns and safety interventions at 139 locations
  • Major bike lane projects in Midtown Manhattan and Sunnyside, Queens
  • Installation of 363 speed humps
  • Activation of 873 leading pedestrian intervals (giving pedestrians a 3- to 7-second head start when entering an intersection with a corresponding green signal in the same direction of travel
  • Pilots of new design elements, such as curving the roadway to reduce speeding and installing rectangular rapid flashing beacons to improve visibility and increase driver yielding at uncontrolled crosswalks near schools.

Now, de Blasio’s “Green Wave” promises:

  • 30 new miles of protected bike lanes a year, up from an average of 20 miles a year over the past three years
  • Expanded bike lanes — including protected lanes — in 10 designated “bike priority districts” in Brooklyn and Queens 
  • Redesign of 50 intersections to make cyclists more visible to turning motorists by using such measures as bike boxes, where cyclists wait in front of vehicles, and bike lanes painted green
  • Adjusting the timing of green light signals so that, at 15 mph, all traffic – including cyclists – can travel the length of a designated corridor with green lights. This eliminates speeding up to beat a red light and slows traffic overall.
  • Police officers enforcing traffic rules more strictly at 100 high-crash intersections, specifically targeting trucks.

After the four bicycle accidents July 23-24, the New York City Council passed a bill that would allow cyclists to follow pedestrian walk signals, making it safer for cyclists to cross intersections.

Why is ‘Vision Zero’ Failing NYC Bicyclists?

Will Mayor de Blasio’s latest efforts put an end to the city’s rash of fatal bicycle accidents?

Jon Orcutt, a spokesman for Bike New York and a former policy director for the city Department of Transportation, told the New York Post that the DOT’s work to redesign streets and make them safer for bicyclists doesn’t keep pace with increasing traffic.

“There’s a toxic mix of population growth, industry that uses trucks, and Uber and Lyft traffic,” Orcutt said. 

A Bicycling magazine report about this year’s cyclist fatalities in NYC says bike lanes throughout the city are often unusable for more than a block at a time because of obstructions – often government vehicles, commercial trucks and taxi cabs. That problem and the poor design of New York streets, in particular, the wide north-south avenues in Manhattan, which often physically push cyclists out of bike lanes, make bike lanes seem more dangerous than simply riding in the road.

Orcutt sounded cautiously optimistic when questioned by The Times about the Green Wave initiative. “We think on paper it looks good — we need more protected bike lanes,” he said. “But the devil is in the implementation.”

Contact a Bicycle Accident Attorney in Long Island, NY

It is important to remember that bicyclists have a right to use public roads, and they or their loved ones may demand compensation from negligent drivers who cause bicycle accidents that leave them seriously injured. Bicycle accident attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, in Long Island can help you recover the money you deserve for medical bills, lost income, damage to your bike and more after an accident. 

Our attorneys pursue bike accident claims in Long Island and nearby areas including Nassau County, Suffolk County and Queens. We offer free consultations, including evening and weekend appointments. Call or contact us online to talk to one of our experienced Long Island injury attorneys today.

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