Do Bike Lanes Really Protect Cyclists? A Closer Look

New York City is home to thousands of cyclists — commuters, bike messengers, delivery workers and recreational riders.

In recent years, the city has attempted to make life safer for this community by expanding New York’s cycling infrastructure and introducing new safety initiatives.

The city has expanded bike lanes, cracked down on unsafe intersections and taken a harder prosecutorial line against motorists who collide with cyclists.

Despite all of this, cycling accidents increased last year, and the city saw its highest number of cycling deaths in more than a decade.

According to New York Times data released in February, 28 cyclists were killed and 4,000 injured in 2019.

Additionally, the COVID-19 outbreak has prompted a flood of inexperienced cyclists to take to the streets in recent weeks, helping to increase cycling accidents by 31-percent through mid-March relative to the same time period last year.

These developments were enough to spark protests among cyclists, as safety groups repeatedly called upon city officials to introduce tougher measures.

So are measures such as adding more bike lanes really the answer? Some observers have raised doubts.

Why Bikes Lanes May Not Be the Solution People Think They Are

A recent piece in the New York Times explored the city’s construction of new bike lanes in an effort to provide cyclists with additional protection. The article questions the design choices of some of these lanes, noting that they run with a curb on the right and parked cars on the left. This means cars traveling to the left of those parked cars have limited visibility into what is occurring in the bike lane, while cyclists, on the other hand, may not be able to see a car turning right until it’s too late.

A better example of a well-designed bike lane is a two-directional lane along Prospect Park West in Brooklyn. The article’s author notes that this 19-block lane has no right turns and cyclists are alerted to pedestrian crossings, while pedestrians are advised to look both ways in order to see oncoming cyclists. 

Practicing Safer Cycling

While bike lanes may differ in design and their ability to shield cyclists from inattentive motorists, it’s still incumbent upon all of us to help keep each other safe. Cyclists need to wear protective gear and maintain situational awareness; motorists must enter intersections carefully and look for cyclists as they turn; people parking cars on busy streets need to look before opening their doors, and pedestrians should look in all directions when crossing a street.

Additionally, those in the New York region should practice safe social distancing while riding during the COVID-19 outbreak. This means solo rides at times when the streets and trails are less busy.

Finding the Right Bicycle Accident Attorney

At the Frankel Law Firm, we’ve been fighting for the rights of injured persons for more than 40 years. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today at (212) 888-5100 or at All plaintiff personal injury cases which are accepted are on a contingency basis which means that there will be no attorneys fee unless successful. Given the coronavirus pandemic, we can arrange for a free consultation by facetime, zoom, skype or WhatsApp. Please feel free to give us a call.

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