Bike Injuries Still Up for the Year — And Southern Brooklyn Cyclists are Disproportionately Hurt 

Bike injuries are down but cyclists in Southern Brooklyn are still disproportionately getting hurt. 
Photo: Hilda Cohen
Bike injuries are down but cyclists in Southern Brooklyn are still disproportionately getting hurt. Photo: Hilda Cohen

Bike injuries are still way up this year, though the spike upwards two weeks ago has slowed, and cyclists in Southern Brooklyn are still disproportionately getting hurt — further highlighting the area’s need for safe bike infrastructure.

Between March 9 and March 15 — the first days after Mayor de Blasio urged people to bike to work in order to avoid packed subways and buses because of coronavirus — bike injuries citywide shot up 43 percent, even as all other kinds of collisions and injuries decreased. The plurality of injuries in that period — 22 out of 80 — occurred in Southern Brooklyn, accounting for a 69-percent increase compared to the same time period last year in the NYPD’s Brooklyn South bureau.

But one week later? Cycling injuries citywide were down 47 percent, though they remain up 15 percent for the year and up 31 percent for the past month, the NYPD reported.

The plurality of cyclist injuries between March 16 and 22 were still in the same Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods: Over that period, 10 out of 37 bike injuries citywide, according to NYPD data. That’s down slightly from last week, but still up more than 37 percent for the year and for the month.

It’s no surprise that the numbers are so bad this month and this year because nothing has changed in the neighborhoods where 10 of the 28 cyclists who were killed by drivers last year, according to a Southern Brooklyn bike advocate.

“South Brooklyn has always been a problem in terms of infrastructure,” said Brian Hedden, the co-founder of Bike South Brooklyn. “No one has put focus in terms of trying to make it better here. And that’s had an impact all through last year, even this year before the outbreak.”

Hedden also referred to the lack of traffic-calming infrastructure across Southern Brooklyn, which played a role in the death of 66-year-old Frank Decolvenaere, who was killed by a speeding teen driver in Bay Ridge in early March.

bike map south bk
Not many bike lanes in Southern Brooklyn. Map: DOT

But now the need for more bike lanes is even more dire, as more Southern Brooklynites are using two wheels to get around during the pandemic, and when many delivery cyclists are working tirelessly to bring food to those quarantined at home, according to the local pol.

“We must protect cyclists in the midst of this pandemic — many of whom are frontline, essential workers and those delivering the items that people need to survive,” said State Senator Andrew Gounardes. “Southern Brooklyn has long had the need for Vision Zero Design standards and a cultural and legal shift to actually hold reckless drivers accountable.”

The problems of Southern Brooklyn exist elsewhere, of course, albeit in numbers that may not be statistically significant. In the Bronx, which also lacks any real bike infrastructure, the number of injuries last week skyrocketed 500 percent (there were 6, up from 1 injury in the same period of 2019, according to NYPD data). A week earlier, cyclist injuries were up a whopping 450 percent (from two to 11).

Similarly in Southern Queens, bike injuries jumped up 50 percent from 2 to 3 last week, according to NYPD data.