New York city is, in many ways, a cyclist’s paradise. Green spaces, plentiful bike lanes and public access to free or low cost bike services abound.
There is significant downside to cycling in a larger metropolis, however — the prevalence and potential of suffering serious injuries in accidents. In a New York city-issued 2017 report on bicycle safety (the most recent year for which data was available), there were 4,397 reported incidents of injured cyclists within the City if New York. An alarming, twenty-four of these cyclists suffered fatal injuries.
The breakdown of cycling injuries by borough is as follows:
- Brooklyn — 1,691 injuries
- Manhattan — 1,260 injuries
- Queens — 913 injuries
- Bronx — 451
- Staten Island 82
The validity of these statistics are premised upon factors such as reports, presumably from police response, 911 and 311 data. There are likely many unreported accidents of a lesser medical import which were not reported.
It should also be noted that cycling accidents are on the rise across the city. Cycling related fatalities in New York city have nearly doubled since 2013, despite recent civic efforts to minimize cycling dangers.
Recent high-profile accidents
The statistics cited above provide context to a recent tragic high-profile cycling accident in Queens, where the rider was struck by a car door thrown open (doored) and then after falling into the roadway, having been run over by a box truck. According to local news reports, a 45-year-old man was riding his bike on 21st Street in Long Island City, Queens, when the driver of a parked car opened her door unexpectedly.
The cyclist was thereupon clipped by the opened door and tumbled into the roadway for flowing traffic, where he was struck by an oncoming box truck. The victim was rushed to Booth Memorial Hospital (New York Presbyterian Hospital, Queens) where he was pronounced dead.
Though the cyclist was not wearing a helmet, police say it would not have prevented his passing, given the severity of the accident. The victim’s family later contacted media outlets, frustrated that no legal action has yet been taken against the persons viewed as responsible for causing this terrible accident which resulted in the death of the cyclist.
Some parts of Queens have been flagged as especially dangerous for cyclists. In 2016, a 78-year-old cyclist was killed on his routine morning cycle after being struck by a Chevy Impala. The man was cycling on Northern Avenue and 223rd Street — a stretch of road flagged as being among the region’s most dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians by Mayor DeBlasio’s “Vision Zero” street safety agenda.
The vision Zero report outlines progress which the City of New York has made in increasing the safety of roadways within the City of New York while noting the increased incidents of bicyclist fatalities which is likely due to the popularity of this important mode of inner city transportation.
The report has been posted at least in part at the vision zero website which can be accessed at http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/156-18/de-blasio-administration-releases-annual-vision-zero-report.
Vision Zero has also published a Queens Pedestrian Action Safety Plan which may be obtained at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/ped-safety-action-plan-queens.pdf. It is significant that overall the City of New York is making efforts to increase pedestrian safety as well as the safety of bicyclists. In the case of Queens County, the City of New York has targeted constructing bicycling lanes at a rate of five lane miles annually.
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