New York Cyclists Have Rights and Responsibilities
New York is a bike-friendly city: The latest Cycling in the City report found that more than 750,000 New Yorkers are regular bike riders. The Citi Bike system alone was on track late last year to average well over 42,000 trips per day. In 2016, Bicycling magazine ranked New York as one of the top five best bike cities in the country.
It’s a great thing to see more people choosing this healthy and environmentally-friendly transportation option, but we need to remember that bicycles have to share the roads with others, both other types of vehicles and people on foot. Cyclists also have to remember to follow the rules of the road—for their own safety and that of others.
Many Types of Collisions
We most often hear about cyclist collisions when a bike has been hit by a truck or car, but they’re involved in all types of crashes. In 2016, the New York City Department of Transportation reported nearly 60,000 injuries and 231 deaths in traffic incidents. The majority were car crashes and car-pedestrian encounters. But 311 pedestrians were injured in crashes with bikes (along with sixty-four cyclists) and another 317 cyclists were injured in crashes with other cyclists or single-cycle crashes.
There’s some good news hidden in here: No one was killed in any of those non-motor vehicle collisions. Deaths do occur in rare cases, but the much smaller mass and slower speed of bikes means that they’re far less likely to do the kind of damage caused by heavy, fast-moving cars and trucks.
Recklessness Good for No One
Cycling fatalities overall are way down in NYC: per trip, they’ve been cut by nearly three-quarters since 2000. But that reduction has been largely due to safety improvements made by the city and awareness campaigns aimed at educating drivers to be more aware of cyclists. There’s one dangerous aspect that can’t be safeguarded against by others, which a February incident in Chelsea highlights: reckless cyclists.
Most cyclists are responsible and they take their own safety and that of others seriously, but when some decide to behave irresponsibly on city streets, there’s not a lot that anyone else can do about it. As much as New York’s streets have become friendlier and safer for bicycles in recent years, it’s unfortunately possible that there isn’t much room to improve further. Of course, New Yorkers are smart and creative, so it’s also possible that we’ll come up with new ideas to continue the safety trend.
The Rules of the Road
Many New York City traffic rules apply to bicycles. Generally speaking, cyclists need to keep in mind that bike riders “are granted all rights and subject to all duties” that apply to cars and trucks. So cycling the wrong way in traffic, running stop signs and red lights, and other dangerous actions are against the rules. The NYPD can (and has) ticketed many cyclists for violations.
That, of course, is no excuse for drivers behaving badly around cyclists. As operators of larger and more dangerous vehicles, they have a duty to exercise more care around cyclists and pedestrians.
New York City Car and Bicycle Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been harmed in a crash, it’s important to discuss your case with a knowledgeable attorney who can explain all the options. Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP offers all potential clients a free, no-obligation consultation to go over their specific situation.