City Hall Press Conference on Cyclist Safety

Thursday, June 29, 2006, 9:00am
City Hall
Organized by Transportation Alternatives

Cyclists, Advocates: City’s Bike Safety Efforts not Enough Demand New City Bike Safety Plan to Address Chronic Hazards

In the past week there were three serious bike crashes in New York City, two of them resulting in the deaths of individual cyclists, Dr. Carl Nacht and Derek Lake.

On Monday June 19, a taxicab driver opened his door and knocked a cyclist into the path of a passing bus on 10 th Avenue in Manhattan. On Thursday June 22, an NYPD tow truck driver crossing the Hudson River Greenway hit Dr. Nacht as he was riding with his wife northbound on the bike path. Dr. Nacht died Monday, June 26. On Monday June 26, Mr. Lake was killed by a truck when his bike slid out of control and he fell beneath the truck on Houston Street at LaGuardia Place.

All three crashes were caused by dangerous conditions that are commonplace on New York City streets but should not be: drivers and passengers opening car doors into the path of cyclists; drivers failing to yield to cyclists and hazardous street conditions that can send bikes out of control.

Like the Mayors of London, Paris, Chicago and other world class cities that have recently unveiled comprehensive plans to make bicycling safe and widespread, Mayor Bloomberg must get serious about making New York City a safe place to bike. The City’s ‘Bicycle Master Plan’ is ten years old and only 15% complete. It is devoid of targets, timetables and design standards that cities like London and Chicago are using to make cycling safe enough for all to enjoy.

To prevent future tragedies, City Hall must modernize New York City’s bike plan to include targets, timetables, design standards and other modern tools for making cycling a safe and viable mode of transportation, including:

  • A new updated "New York City Bicycle Master Plan"
  • A timetable to implement this bike safety/encouragement plan
  • Specific targets to increase the rate of bike riding and reduce the number of bicycle crashes
  • Modern street design standards for the safest types of on- and off-street bike paths
  • Heightened enforcement of laws against drivers who endanger cyclists
  • Specific targets to put every New Yorker within a half-mile of a bike lane or path
  • Increased street hazard inspection on heavily-cycled streets by bike-borne DOT inspectors
  • Proactive safety measures like "anti-dooring" stickers in taxicabs to remind drivers and passengers to look for cyclists before opening their doors
  • Adequate outdoor bike parking and bike access to buildings
  • The reinstatement of a public bicycle advisory committee

Helmets reduce the risk of serious head injuries, but are only part of the safety equation. T.A.’s Deputy Director of Advocacy, Noah Budnick says, "Everyone should wear helmets, but helmets don’t prevent crashes. Safety is better served by safe streets that encourage more cycling because studies show that the more cyclists there are, the more motorists notice us and the safer it is to ride."