Bicycle Accidents In NYC Are Up

Bicyclists in New York City should beware. This past January (a month not typically known for heavy bike traffic) saw a concerning increase in both bicycle injuries and traffic fatalities this year. With warmer weather right around the corner, riders should stay educated on the common causes of bicycle accidents and how to stay safe when riding on NYC streets.

The Scary Statistics

The beginning of the year was brutal for bicyclists in the city. According to an article published by Street Blog titled ‘Bloody January’,191 cyclists were injured in the first 28 days of the year, a 20 percent increase from 2018. NYC also saw a 90 percent increase in traffic fatalities involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists within this time, totaling 19 traffic death compared to the 10 reported in the same period last year.

When looking at the data across the five boroughs, each area (aside from Manhattan South which saw the only decrease) experienced an increase in bicycle injuries of at least 10 percent:

  • Manhattan North- 15 injuries up 15.4 percent
  • Brooklyn North- 41 injuries up 70.8 percent
  • Brooklyn South- 40 injuries up 21.2 percent
  • Bronx- 16 injuries up 45.5 percent
  • Queens North- 31 injuries up 10.7 percent
  • Queens South- 10 injuries up 233 percent

Why there has been a sudden increase in bicycle injuries is still a mystery. A few theories highlighted in the article include:

  • Too many accidents: There were over 14,538 collisions in NYC just within the month of January. Even though traffic accidents appear to be on a downward trend by at least 8.4 percent, the high volume of crashes poses a significant threat to bicyclists and increases their risk of becoming a victim.
  • Lack of law enforcement: Street Blog reports that some activists believe a lack of police enforcement is causing drivers to get away with reckless driving behaviors that are putting bicyclists in danger. Without the fear of hefty fines, drivers will continue their behavior until someone gets seriously hurt.
  • More bikes are on the road: The efforts made by Vision Zero to provide more bike lanes for safe riding has increased the number of bicycle riders on the road which may have skewed the increase in injuries. However, the article points out that if these safety measures truly worked, the rise in bike safety initiatives should have led to a decrease in injuries regardless of the number of riders in the city.
  • More cars on the road: The New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) reported that there has also been an increase in the number of registered motor vehicles on the road. This could be making it harder for bicyclists to ride safely through highly congested streets.

Most Deadly Accidents For Bicyclists

We may not know exactly what is causing the recent spike in bicycle accidents, but we do know which accidents have the deadliest results. These are the top three bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles that cyclists should be watching for to avoid catastrophic accidents this season:

  • Failure To Yield: Bicycle riders are in the most danger when riding straight through intersections. Too many motorists do not expect bicycle riders to follow the same traffic rules and regulations as cars. Drivers most often neglect to allow bicycles the right-of-way because they are not paying attention, assume that cyclists will stop for them, or falsely believe bicycles can change direction quickly enough to avoid an accident.
  • Left-Hand Turns: Intersections can also pose a danger to cyclists when it comes to left-hand turns. In NYC, bicycle riders are three times more likely to be killed in a left-hand turn as compared to a right-hand turn. Cars who are in a hurry to turn left at a light can easily miss a bicycle riding straight if their focus is on beating the other vehicles.
  • Dooring: Bicycle riders can suffer horrifying injuries when hit by doors while riding at full speed. Cars who open doors into bike lanes or into traffic put bicycle riders at high risk for accidents, especially when the cyclist’s first instinct it to swerve.

More Bicyclists To Come For NYC

Even with the overwhelming threat of permeant injuries and death, bicycle riders continue to enter the streets of NYC in swarms. And with more talk about congestion pricing and MTA fare raises, it’s predicted that even more bicyclists will prepare to hit the streets as the weather takes a turn.

According to the DOT’s report, ‘Cycling In The City’, there are approximately 460,000 people riding their bikes in the city on any given day. Nearly 1.6 million people have ridden their bicycles within the past year at least one time, and over 800,000 cruises around the city on a regular basis. These growing numbers allow for plenty of opportunities for injuries and accidents to occur if more safety initiatives are not put into place on city streets.

How To Keep NYC Cyclists Safe

New York City has a long way to go when it comes to improving road safety for our cyclists. Drivers and cyclists need more predictability when it comes to sharing the road and fewer options for making fatal decisions.

In addition to the changes the DOT has already made, here are some additional recommendations the department has considered for making NYC streets safer for cyclists:

  • More protected bike lanes;
  • New intersection designs;
  • Delayed and restricted turning;
  • More medians for better traffic flow;
  • Marked left-hand only lanes;
  • Eliminating the number of movements available in an intersection;
  • Increase visibility with curbside lanes;
  • Adding more on-street law enforcement; and
  • More speed or traffic cameras to monitor driver behaviors.

Bike Safe To Save Lives

In collaboration with safer streets, cyclists can help do their part to prevent traffic accidents by following all city bicycle laws and practicing safe riding behaviors:

  • Wear a helmet;
  • Ride in the street, not on the sidewalk;
  • Ride with traffic;
  • Stop at red lights and stop signs;
  • Use marked bike lanes when available;
  • Ride in a straight line;
  • Look, signal and look again;
  • Watch for car doors;
  • Stay visible;
  • Use a bell; and
  • Don’t wear headphones or earbuds when riding.

For more information on bike safety, Bike Smart is a comprehensive guide developed by the DOT with everything bicyclists need to know to get the most out of your biking experiences in NYC.

NYC and Long Island Bicycle Accident Attorneys

Bicycle riders deserve the same respect as every other vehicle on the road. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, the law firm of Siler & Ingber is here to support your rights to safe roads. Call our team of New York City bicycle accident attorneys at 877-718-6079 for a free consultation, or reach out online anytime to discuss your case today.