Seeking a cycle solution: Creating safe streets for all, beyond blaming the city and drivers
Added 08-18-19 05:13:01am EST - “During a summer home from college in 1999, I worked as a bike messenger in Midtown Manhattan. Back then, there were few of the trappings that New York cyclists enjoy today. Bike lanes were few and far between. Citi Bikes, protected…” - Nydailynews.com
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During a summer home from college in 1999, I worked as a bike messenger in Midtown Manhattan. Back then, there were few of the trappings that New York cyclists enjoy today. Bike lanes were few and far between. Citi Bikes, protected lanes and greenways were fiction, and bicycle advocacy as a concept was basically non-existent.
There were 40 bicycle deaths in New York that year, a record, at least for that era. Towards the end of that summer, one of my coworkers got into an accident and bit off his tongue. A week later, another messenger reported back from visiting him in the hospital. “He’s doing better,” he said. “He can speak now.” Another messenger friend told me about a courier who had his ears ripped off from getting sandwiched between two buses.
Today, by comparison, New York is living in a golden age of bicycling. Thanks to infrastructure changes begun under Mayor Bloomberg, New Yorkers can enjoy riding on dedicated, separated bike lanes with physical barriers protecting them from cars, on many of Manhattan’s avenues. Citi Bikes are ubiquitous throughout much of the city, and standard bike lanes have been added to streets all over the five boroughs.
New Yorkers have embraced two-wheeled transit with an undeniable fervor. Average daily bike trips in the city have spiked more than 150% since 2006, from about 180,000 to about 460,000 today. This is a good thing, and considering how bicycle usage has surged, that bicycle deaths hit a record low last year at just 10 is even more remarkable. That should be a proud accomplishment for the city, the Vision Zero policy, and all New Yorkers.
However, the bicycle community is in crisis mode today. After 19 deaths so far this year (as of Aug. 15), it’s easy to understand why. Bicyclists remain at the mercy of cars and trucks on many New York streets, and more can be done to reduce both bicycle deaths, and overall traffic deaths, which include pedestrians, vehicle drivers and passengers, and motorcyclists as well as bicyclists. Total traffic deaths in New York City also hit a record low last year at 200.
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