Sunday, September 1, 2019

NYC bicyclists are killing pedestrians and the city won’t stop it



By Brad Hamilton
August 31, 2019 | 5:46pm  

 
Little Mabel Jensen was hit by a bicycle in Riverside Park. Courtesy of Adrienne Jensen



Mayor Bill de Blasio has aggressively pushed a bike-friendly agenda, adding about 100 miles of dedicated lanes for cyclists amid a spike in rider collisions, but he’s done little to address the danger that bikers themselves pose.

Since 2011, bicyclists have injured more than 2,250 pedestrians — including at least seven who died — according to stats from the city Department of Transportation and published reports.

Injuries are up 12 percent this year, rising to 127 through June 30 from 113 over the same period in 2018, the NYPD says.

Most of the injured last year were in Manhattan, where 134 pedestrians got hurt, nearly half the citywide total of 270.

Flatiron/Gramercy Park’s 13th Precinct topped the list with 16 injuries, followed by Chinatown/Little Italy with 13, and lower Manhattan with 12. There were 10 on the Upper West Side.

Although data show the number of hurt pedestrians dipped from 315 in 2017 to 270 last year, roughly 300 people a year have been hurt by cyclists since the city began tracking such accidents in 2011, including a high of 361 injuries in 2015 and three deaths in 2014.

Two pedestrians have been killed so far this year. Enlarge ImageA new sign shows a new cyclist route in Riverside Park, but the biker on the left ignores the rules.Helayne Seidman

The latest was Michael Collopy, a 60-year-old Chelsea resident who was plowed into by a bicyclist while standing in a bike lane in the Flatiron District on July 31 and died a week later. The bicyclist fled.

“He was one of the good ones in the building, a nice person,” said Jay, a doorman in West 23rd Street apartment complex where Collopy lived. “He was always full of jokes.”

Also killed was Donna Strum, 67, who was smashed by a cyclist on April 24 while crossing West 57th Street near Sixth Avenue. She was in the crosswalk.

An unidentified 40-year-old cyclist ran a red light and struck her, fracturing her skull. She died on May 4. The biker told cops that his gears malfunctioned and his brakes failed. Cops issued him a summons and he was released.

“People are mad,” said Adrienne Rivetti Jensen, an Upper West Side resident whose 5-year-old daughter, Mabel, suffered a gash on her forehead when a speeding biker clipped the girl in Riverside Park on April 8. Enlarge ImageMabel Jensen, after being hit by a bicycle in Riverside Park.Courtesy of Adrienne Jensen

Mabel, now with an inch-long scar, was at first afraid to return to the park after the accident, said the mother.

“She got hit while we were just walking on the pathway — and a lot of cyclists were speeding past us, yelling at us to get out of the way,” the mother recalled. “In the Uber to the hospital, I started to feel really angry. He could have killed her. He was going really fast.”

She said other parents on the Upper West Side are worried that their children aren’t safe.

“Every New Yorker I meet has a story about someone getting hit,” she said, including a mom in the neighborhood with three children who have all been injured by riders.

“It should be a public conversation. All these bicyclists have lobbying groups and are getting expanded accessibility to the city.”

Hizzoner has been putting in place a plan to install 30 new miles of bicycle lanes per year, reduce parking spaces and add hundreds of Citi Bikes.

Some of the lanes defy logic.

One that was recently installed next to the FDR Drive, between 33rd and 34th Streets, gobbled up a walkway and a vehicle lane used by ambulances trying to get to Bellevue Hospital.

Another on Eighth Avenue in Midtown stands out as an example of a poorly planned path that pits pedestrians against cyclists in a battle for limited pavement.

Tens of thousands of commuters headed to and from the Port Authority bus terminal on 42nd Street everyday overflow the narrow sidewalks onto the Eighth Avenue roadway, where the city inexplicably installed both a bike lane and parking lane in 2006. Enlarge ImagePedestrians and bikers at 8th Ave and 42nd. StreetJ.C. Rice

Hordes of bikers weave through idling cabs and throngs of pedestrians, creating collisions and even sparking fistfights.

But the mayor has ignored the growing threat to walkers.

The one cyclist group he has attacked is electric-bike riders, who are primarily food-delivery workers. He has blasted them for going the wrong way on streets and riding on sidewalks and has launched a crackdown against them.

But just nine of the 270 reported pedestrian injuries from bikers last year were caused by e-bikes, according to a report on the transportation-news site Streetsblog.

A woman whose jogger husband was killed by a bike rider in Central Park in 2014 told the site that the bicyclists need to see themselves both as victims and “predators.”

“One careless move on a bike and we can take down a runner, a walker, a child skipping along,” said Hindy Schachter, whose husband, Irving, 75, was training for the New York City Marathon when he was hit on the East Loop of the park near 72nd Street by a 17-year-old cyclist.

“As we want car drivers to be alert to our rights, so too we must act to protect the rights of other people.” Enlarge ImageA biker rides along the waterside path in Riverside Park on the Upper West Side.Helayne Seidman

It would seem that not all accidents and injuries are getting reported.

Central Park remains a hot spot for danger, as racing riders routinely blow through red lights and pedestrians risk injury merely by crossing the road.

But last year there were only four reported cyclist-caused injuries in the park’s 22nd Precinct, the data show.

The NYPD has stepped up its enforcement of rule-breaking riders.

Cops issued 19,949 moving violations to cyclists this year through June 30, up from 18,148 over the same period last year, a 10 percent increase.

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