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NYC Bicyclists May Face New Laws, Challenges

An editorial in the New York Post gave City Councilman Eric Ulrich a "Knucklehead Award" for his proposal to license all bicycles in New York City. Ulrich, from Queens (and the youngest serving member of the council at age 24), proposed the licensing system after receiving complaints from senior citizens who said, according to Ulrich, that bicyclists "scare the hell out of them."

While some rogue cyclists may tarnish the reputation of all riders, cycling is up across the city, with Department of Transportation figures showing the number of everyday bicycle commuters more than doubling since 2006-from 8,499 to 17,451. Other commuters should remember that those cyclists aren't taking up space on buses or trains, nor are they blocking traffic in cars or cabs and polluting the air.

While the proposed bike-licensing system is purportedly aimed to aid in identifying offenders who cause accidents and then speed away, cycling advocates point out that if a license is to be easily visible, it would have to be quite large, like a car license plate, which seems unlikely.

According to the New York Post editorial, a similar measure was introduced in 2004 by then-Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano (to whom the Post also awarded their "Knucklehead Award"). And yet another bill, which would have required New Jersey bicyclists to bear a license plate, was recently withdrawn from consideration in the New Jersey Assembly.

Although this recent proposal has drawn fire from most bicycle advocacy groups, some point out that some form of bicycle registration can be helpful to recover lost or stolen bikes. Currently, bicycles found by police are auctioned off if not claimed.

The real problem for city cyclists, say advocacy groups, are the dangers to bicyclists posed by cars and trucks, sometimes resulting in fatal bicycle accidents. Often drivers have claimed to not "see" a cyclist even when they are right in front of the driver, who may be focused only on the other cars on the road. And when a car and bicyclist collide, the cyclist is nearly always the loser.

Fortunately, cyclists who have been injured while biking can turn to the legal system for help. Whether it's a collision with a truck, being "doored" by someone in a parked car (suddenly opening a door into the bike lane), or some other type of collision, if you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle-related accident, talk to an experienced New York City personal injury attorney.

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