5BBC - New York's Five Borough Bicycle Club

New York City Bike Safety Action Plan


July 19, 2005

  • Century Road Club Association
  • Five Borough Bicycle Club
  • Free Wheels
  • New York Bicycle Messenger Foundation
  • Right Of Way
  • Staten Island Bicycling Association
  • Times Up!
  • Transportation Alternatives
  • See current list of Plan supporters

According to data released by the NYPD, eleven New York City cyclists have perished in crashes this year, compared to six over the same period in 2004. In the past two months, four bicyclists were fatally struck by motorists: Jerome Allen, 59, banking administrator, was hit from behind by an SUV on Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island on April 26; Brandie Bailey, 21, waitress, was struck by a private sanitation truck on Houston Street and Avenue A in Manhattan on May 10; Elizabeth Padilla, 28, attorney, was crushed by a large delivery truck on 5th Avenue and Warren Street in Brooklyn on June 9; Andrew Morgan, 25, artist and restaurant manager was killed by a right-turning truck on Manhattan’s Houston Street on June 22.

All four fatal crashes occurred on streets that are “recommended” bike routes according to the official City 2005 NYC Cycling Map. Yet all four streets, bereft of bicycle-friendly traffic safety measures, force bicyclists into dangerous competition for street space with cars and trucks.

Jerome logged over 100,000 miles in his lifelong love of cycling, and Brandie, Elizabeth and Andrew were also proficient city cyclists. Their deaths, precipitated by unlawful driver behavior and unsafe street conditions for cyclists, contradict claims that “rider error” is the cause of most cyclist fatalities.

On numerous occasions, the Mayor, the Department of Transportation, the Department of City Planning and other city agencies have proclaimed their intent to encourage bicycling as a means to improve New Yorkers’ mobility, health and quality of life. The people are listening; bicycling is surging.

Now it is time for the City to do more than pay lip service to bicycling: The City must make bicycling safe. To prevent future deaths and injuries, the City of New York must convene a multi-agency taskforce of the Police, Transportation, City Planning and Health Departments to take the following actions:

  1. Commit to a comprehensive study of all NYC bicycle fatalities from 1995 to the present (206 cases as of July 19, 2005) that will identify the gravest dangers to cyclists and assign relative responsibility to key parties (drivers, cyclists, street design, etc.). The study will:

    • be conducted by the NYC Health Department with oversight by a public cycling taskforce;

    • be modeled after a parallel 1996-98 study of cycling casualties in Toronto by the City Coroner;

    • address the NYPD’s identification of “cyclist error” as the “primary contributing factor” in three-fourths of fatal bicycle crashes;

    • recommend corrective measures to reduce cyclist injury and death rates;

    • be completed and released in a City Hall press event no later than Sept. 30, 2006, and

    • begin an ongoing review of every pedestrian and cyclist fatality for crash cause and relative responsibility of driver and victim, which will be made public and form the basis of annual reports on progress in reducing injuries and fatalities to pedestrians and cyclists.

  2. Develop and implement an aggressive, ongoing enforcement campaign to deter drivers from illegal behaviors that put cyclists in peril. These include speeding, reckless driving, “dooring,” driving and parking in bike lanes, unsafe passing, tailgating, and failure to exercise due care. Deploy NYPD bicycle units in this campaign. Record statistics for summonses issued for these cyclist- and pedestrian-threatening behaviors, and publish them in the Mayor’s Management Report and TrafficStat on an ongoing basis. Additionally, update and clarify NYPD enforcement procedures so that bicyclists and motorists are treated equally, and that offenses that lead to a summons or warning for a motorist do not lead to arrest or vehicle (i.e. bicycle) confiscation if committed by a bicyclist.

  3. Commit to implementing the City’s official “Bicycle Master Plan” by 2010 with the goal of putting every New Yorker within a half-mile of the bike network. Adopt and apply stronger design principles (e.g. more protected street space and time at intersections for cyclists, more visibly buffered and physically separated bike lanes) for routes making up the network, starting with access to bridge and greenway paths and improved stenciling and signage. Publicly review the progress of and update all projects and policies described in Plan by June of 2006.

  4. With guidance from experienced street safety advocates, develop and implement a Public Awareness Campaign to curb dangerous driving and educate drivers about cyclists' rights to the streets.

  5. Increase the City’s personnel capacity to plan and fund bicycle facilities, and reinstate the NYC Bicycle Advisory Council and hold public meetings to solicit input from New Yorkers who bike.

  6. Require, through legislation, safety-enhancing retrofits to trucks, such as sideguards that deflect cyclists and pedestrians and reduce fatal impacts.

Current List of Plan Supporters

These organizations have expressed support for the Bicycle Safety Action Plan:

  • Brooklyn Civic Riders Bicycle Club
  • Century Road Club Association
  • Fast and Fabulous Cycling Club
  • Five Borough Bicycle Club
  • Free Wheels
  • Injury Free Coalition for Kids at Harlem Hospital
  • Kissena Velodrome Committee
  • New York Bicycle Messenger Foundation
  • New York Bicycling Coalition
  • New York City Mountain Bikers
  • New York Cycle Club
  • North Brooklyn Health Network
  • Recycle-A-Bicycle
  • Right Of Way
  • Staten Island Bicycle Association
  • Times Up!
  • Transportation Alternatives
  • Veloprop
  • Visual Resistance
  • The Weekday Cyclists