EDITORIAL: Pass streets-design bill

With the number of cyclists killed in New York City on the rise in 2019, it’s clear something must be done to prevent further tragedy.

Brooklyn’s streets, in particular, are proving to be treacherous for cyclists. There have been 10 cyclist fatalities so far in 2019 — the same number the city saw in all of 2018, according to Vision Zero data — eight of which have occurred in Brooklyn, including three in a four-day span last week.

Activists have laid blame on city officials for the lack of dedicated bike lanes throughout much of Southern Brooklyn, where five of the 10 fatalities occurred.

A new bike lane being laid down in the Village. Bike lanes are safer than “sharrows.” (Photo by The Villager)

In addition to the 10 fatalities, Vision Zero data reveals that there have been 993 cyclist injuries across the five boroughs as of April 30.

Our Brooklyn sister paper obtained video from the victim of a hit-and-run incident in Clinton Hill last week where a driver struck a cyclist and fled the scene. The paper published the video and sent the clip to the N.Y.P.D.’s 88th Precinct, which reopened the investigation.

We urge victims of similar incidents to share their stories with their local newspapers and media outlets. Let us tell your stories so we can help spread the word and help prevent further tragedy. Every publicized incident will put pressure on local lawmakers to protect their cycling constituents.

The City Council is hoping to improve road safety with its “Vision Zero Streets Design Standard” bill, which would formalize a set of safety measures for the Department of Transportation to consider when renovating city streets. The bill’s proponents believe it would encourage construction of bike lanes and other traffic-calming measures in car-dense neighborhoods.

The street in Clinton Hill where the biker was struck did not have a dedicated bike lane. The city had removed “sharrows,” shared lane markings that indicate that while there’s no dedicated bike lane on the street, drivers and bicyclists must share the space. Sharrows aren’t perfect — they do not offer an explicit lane and cyclists are still at risk of being struck — but perhaps one might have prevented the cyclist from being struck in Clinton Hill.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson recently announced a May 30 deadline to vote on the measure, which is co-sponsored by 14 of the body’s 15 Brooklyn lawmakers. The only Kings County councilmember not sponsoring the bill is Kalman Yeger (D–Borough Park), who represents the location where the teen was killed last Wednesday.

Yeger should sponsor the bill, too. Doing so would show a united front among Brooklyn councilmembers; it would show constituents that the borough will take action and not wait for the next tragedy to strike.

If drivers can stay out of bike lanes, and cyclists can stay out of the road, then there shouldn’t be any fatalities.

13 Responses to EDITORIAL: Pass streets-design bill

  1. Stopping using fatalities in Brooklyn to justify the fiasco of the 12th +13th st (wasteful of space) bike lanes. Separated bike lanes are useful on high traffic roadways like avenues, not side streets.

    Intead of spending money on all this infrastructure and removing valuable parking space, you’ll get better and cheaper results by putting a mandatory fine of at least $500 for injuring a cyclist or pedestrian, and a higher one for injuries leading to death. This will produce better results with less collateral damage, than putting in bike infrastructure where it’s not necessary and wasteful, particularly on the quieter side streets.

    • BTW, lincoln, you’re doing a great job when comes to free speech. Thanks.

    • William Thomas

      I ride CitiBike to Astor every morning via 7th Street because it is the fastest way to reach the R/W, but there are many times where I have felt unsafe as gigantic box trucks zoom past. I would vastly prefer a dedicated lane, and a protected one on top of that. I don't know a single person in my building who owns a car either, so I think the concern over parking is a little much. This is Manhattan, not Westchester or Nassau.

      • More housing and more density will require more gigantic box trucks. You don't get one without the other. You don't know what you want, except attention. ugh.

  2. Hello Charles,

    If parking space is valuable how come it is priced at $0 per hour by the city?

    The bike lanes that were installed on 12 and 13 streets provide a safer space for people to ride their bicycles in the neighborhood: Safer than the painted lanes on 9 and 10 streets that their path is directly in the parked cars’ door zone and safer than 11 street which have no bike lanes at all.
    Repurposing Street space that was used in the past as free storage of private property on public land as a space that the public can use is a much more efficient way of using “valuable “ free parking spots

  3. The bike lanes are a waste of road capacity. I see too many avenues overburdened with car/truck/bus traffic, where the bike lanes are vastly underused. We need to get rid of them, and use that space where it's really needed.

    • Sorry, but bike lanes are there for a reason, and it's not for biking. It's to make driving in the City uncomfortable, so that people will leave their cars at home. There is no other way to protect the environment from single-passenger cars who overburden our avenues way more than bikes. Car pooling didn't work, and one person per car is the worst use imaginable for our streets.

    • William Thomas

      The reason why the bike lanes look underused is that they are far more efficient than car traffic. https://usa.streetsblog.org/2017/11/29/londons-pr

      • Not what I see.

        Every person can do their own informal count/survey for themselves or an independent (non the NYC DOT or Transportation Alternatives or other politically motivated entity) firm could do one to get the TRUE usage numbers.

    • Well said, CCCC.

      For the record, I’m 30 years+ nyc bicyclist and I cycle everyday. Certain selfish bicyclist/environmentalist “Nazis” have only a one sided impractical utopia in mind, but there needs to be space for everyone: pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobiles.

  4. There will be more deaths with additional bike lanes. I do own a car & also bike. Many bikers do not use the bike lanes despite their existence. Add in skateboarders in the middle of the street, pedestrians crossing at red lights and it make is very difficult to drive in the city. I've live din Manhattan for 40 years. 15 in my current building. 6 out of 20 apartments own cars, so 30%. That's what always made our neighborhood nice. You could actually park on the street and there were low scale buildings. Uber & Lyft are a huge part of the problem. They drive around in circles until they are flagged for a ride. The other problem is Housing. We allow too many exceptions for affordable housing. If a new building is built, activists are delighted to have them add on the stories to get some affordable housing. This just adds more pedestrians, cars & bicyclists. I'm all for some bike lanes but every street does not need one. This nitwit Choresh Wald wants to have a bike lane on Avenue B. It is way too narrow. Every picture I see of him, such as the below, has this monstrosity of a "bike" to take his kids to school. If you want to drive something like that then you just need to go to the 'burbs.

    • Well said.

      Particularly about Uber and Lyft vehicles over saturating the streets. New York City government should have capped the licenses for these licenses, like they originally did for yellow taxi medallions. Now they want to force congestion-pricung on the rest of us, to “fix” their mistakes.

    • Hi "Guest",

      Please be more civil when taking part in a conversation, no reason to call names or use insults. It is offensive.

      As for your claim about the usage of a cargo bike: cargo bikes take 10th of the space a car takes and can perform the same functions that a small part of the population use cars for in the city. Suburbs are designed for people to use cars when they travel. The city is compact enough for people to walk, ride bicycles or use public transportation.

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