The streets and sidewalks of New York City are full of pedestrians and cyclists taking advantage of public transportation and the city's bike lanes. Being a pedestrian or cyclist in the Big Apple comes with its share of risks, however. New studies and debates on bicycling in the city find that there are more accidents involving bicycles than once thought, and that keeping pedestrians and cyclists safe on New York's streets remains a complicated undertaking.
Cyclists Often Injure Pedestrians
A new study by Hunter College found that each year about 1,000 pedestrians are treated for injuries from accidents with cyclists in New York City - though this number may not illustrate the full extent of the problem since it only counted pedestrian injuries, not cyclist injuries, and only collected data on accidents that caused injuries.
The study also found that Brooklyn and Manhattan top the list of most dangerous places to walk near bikes. Women-especially older women-were more likely than any other group to require medical attention following an accident with a bicycle.
It is no wonder, then, that one of the most vocal groups against the new bike lanes in Brooklyn is Seniors for Safety. It, along with the group Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes, have filed suit against the city to have the lanes removed, claiming that they obscure pedestrians' views of the street and block traffic. Though the judge rejected the case, their fervor reflects the general strength of opinions on New York City's bike lane situation.
Current Bike Lanes Configuration May not be the Answer
Advocates of city bike lanes claim that they provide a safe, well-defined place for cyclists to ride, though some cycling enthusiasts believe how the city creates its bike lanes and where they are placed can put riders at risk of injury from cars.
One particular way the city retrofits bike lanes onto streets causes safety concerns for cyclists. Sometimes, the city will convert a lane on a one-way street into a bike lane, but these lanes are often located on high-speed, high-traffic roads, putting cyclists at risk for being hit. Cyclists have a clear disadvantage in a bicycle crash with a multi-ton vehicle, and too often encounters with cars end tragically for the cyclist.
The Need to Work Together
Fortunately, there are several ways both pedestrians and cyclists can stay safe while on the city's streets. Cyclists should not use sidewalks as bike lanes, since this poses grave danger to pedestrians, whose movements may be unpredictable. In addition, both pedestrians and cyclists should be certain to obey all traffic signals.
New York City is a bustling place, but if pedestrians, cyclists and motorists stay alert and on the look-out for each other while on city streets, the city can be a safer place. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a pedestrian, bicycle or motor vehicle, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney.