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Danger ahead for New York pedestrians

Danger ahead for New York pedestrians

In 2017 there were more than 450,000 daily bike trips in New York City, up from 170,000 in 2005. While the increased number of cyclists on the streets of Manhattan provide good PR for the Mayor, the increased bike culture angers pedestrians, citing cyclists who speed, run red lights, shout four letter words, text while cycling, go against traffic, and knockdown the elderly with walkers and canes. In addition, bike lanes and Citi Bike docking stations, combined with on-sidewalk bike parking taking away space from pedestrians, walking the sidewalks of New York has become both a nightmare and a challenge.

Biking is not a new phenomenon in New York. The first bike path in America opened in Brooklyn (1894). More than 500,000 adult New Yorkers use their bicycles more than twice a month, for exercise and transportation.

Walking in Manhattan? Use Caution!

Because of the increase biker numbers, walking on the sidewalks of New York City can be harmful to your health. In Manhattan, in 2017 there were 207 crashes between bikers and pedestrians, resulting in 172 pedestrian injuries. In 2018, there were 155 crashes between pedestrians and bikers, resulting in 134 pedestrian injuries.

The most dangerous zones include: Flatiron/Gramercy Park’s 13th Precinct; Chinatown/Little Italy and Lower Manhattan plus the Upper West Side. Central Park is also hazardous to your health, as racing bikers plow through red lights putting pedestrians at risk for merely wanting to cross the road.

According to Brad Hamilton (NY Post, August 31, 2019), NYPD issued 19,949 moving violations to cyclists in 2019, up from 18,148 over the same period in 2018.

Pedestrians Are Not At Fault

It is factually correct and must be recognized by the elected officials of New York, that pedestrians are in danger. Whether it is 2 people injured or 200 people, no injury is acceptable as a City with untold resources.

The City can be better and do better. The Mayor as well as the city, state and federal elected men and women have the resources to make the sidewalks of New York much safer. It should not be dangerous for people to walkabout. Jared Evans (Jewish Voice political analyst) questioned the lack of interest from Mayor de Blasio on this asking finding that he is, “…turning the blind eye to reckless bike riders…what’s the big deal if some bicycle riders maim and kill pedestrians.”

Whether residents or tourists are strolling with their friends and family, walking the dog, playing with their children, meandering slowly with their canes or walkers, or trying to maneuver the bumps, broken sidewalk tiles or potholes with their wheelchairs, the sidewalks of the City must be safe space.

According to Jonathan Adkins, Governor Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Executive Director, “The alarm bells continue to sound on this issue. It is clear we need to fortify our collective efforts to protect pedestrians….”

Bikes Take Over Manhattan SidewalkWhile restaurant owners are required to obtain a license from the City to extend their seating options onto the sidewalks of New York, it appears that the laws do not extend to restaurant owners who take over public walkways with business – bicycles. There are so many of these bikes commandeering more sidewalk space than ever, leaving pedestrians to maneuver their way around the obstructions, often at their peril.

Bikers are Lawless

People on bicycles believe they do not have to obey any law, and their rights supersede the rights of pedestrians. This belief is incorrect. The law requires that bicyclists ride with traffic as biking against traffic is a leading cause of bicycle crashes. Riding with traffic makes the bikers more visible and their movements more predictable.

Bicyclists must obey all traffic lights and signs and must signal for turns whether they are riding on a bike lane, roadway or other shared-use pathway with pedestrians.

The law also requires that a bicyclist use the lane designated for their mode of transportation. In addition, bikers are not permitted to take over sidewalks. Subdivision “b” (Section 19-176) of the City’s administrative code levies a maximum civil penalty of $100 for biking on the sidewalk. Subdivision “c” spells out a misdemeanor variation when someone bikes on the sidewalk in a “manner that endangers any other person or property”, and that carries a maximum penalty of 20 days in jail. When a biker’s rides on the sidewalk (designated space for pedestrians), conflicts are bound to occur, including crashes…because they are an unexpected obstacle on the path. It is also required that bikers, like motorists, yield the right of way to pedestrians.

According to Eben Weis, “…if your city is plagued by those pesky sidewalk cyclists, it doesn’t mean cyclists are bad. It means your city’s bike infrastructure totally sucks. That’s the real problem”

Hope for Harmony?

“All of us who live or work in New York City do so at our peril because of bike riders speeding through intersections and often going against traffic on one-way streets. Bicycles should have a license plate to create accountability for the riders…” Ward Landrigan, CEO Verduna.

© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.

Businesses must be identified on the bike by name and identification number.

Danger ahead for New York pedestrians

Do not lock your bike to a tree!!! It is illegal and damages the few trees we have.

Danger ahead for New York pedestrians

You must have a license plate to be parked on a public street.

Danger ahead for New York pedestrians

If your bike does not have a plate, it may be towed! especially if the VIN is not visible.

Danger ahead for New York pedestrians

Parking on sidewalks is not legal.

Danger ahead for New York pedestrians

Avoid any side walk area that gets in the way of foot traffic.


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