Liu Suggests Safety Measures For Bike Share Program
City Comptroller John C. Liu released a comprehensive plan to help ensure the City’s Bike Share program, “Citi Bike,” is safe for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike. Liu put forth the recommendations designed to increase safety and reduce the City’s exposure to lawsuits.
“In the rush to place ten thousand bicycles on our streets, City Hall may have pedaled past safety measures, a move that risks significantly exacerbating the number of injuries and fatalities of both bikers and pedestrians, especially those most vulnerable like young children and seniors,” Comptroller Liu said. “Aside from the human toll, there is a real possibility that the Bike Share program will increase the number of legal claims against the City.”
Liu says Research has highlighted the dangers of bicycling in New York City. Specifically, recent studies have found that over a third of bicyclists run red lights, bike lines are blocked 60 percent of the time by cars, trucks, and taxis and that New York City is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States for bicyclists.
Liu’s report titled “Bike Share in the City: A Comprehensive Safety Plan” can be found at www.comptroller. nyc.gov, and outlines a number of recommendations to ensure the physical health of riders and the fiscal health of the City.
Comptroller Liu’s recommendations are as follows: Support Safe Cyclists and a Safe Environment
Current conditions in New York City are relatively more dangerous for
cyclists than other North American
cities, such as Chicago and Washington
DC. Comptroller Liu made the following recommendations to increase safety.
Make Bike Helmets Mandatory:
According to the Department of
Transportation (DOT) in 97 percent
of fatal bicycle accidents in NYC the
rider was not wearing a helmet.
Maintain Signage, Bike Lanes and
Safe Intersections: Intersections are
particularly hazardous to cyclists and
the DOT should ensure that such
locations are designed in a way that
Expand Safe Streets for Seniors: Seniors suffer a disproportionately high
rate of serious injuries from cyclists.
The DOT should work to expand its
current “Safe Streets for Seniors” program as more bicycles appear on City
Educate All Road Users
All cyclists, pedestrians and drivers
must be educated on bike safety and
rules of the road. Although the DOT has
prominently displayed messaging in
print advertisements, bus shelters, and
other visible locations, more can be
done to educate road users.
Expand Availability of Bicycle Safety
Courses: To help manage the influx
of riders, the City should partner
with bicycle organizations and develop incentives for more people to take
part in bike safety training.
Incorporate Bicycle Awareness into
Drivers’ Education: Expand the State
DMV curriculum as it relates to bicycle safety and rules of the road.
Teach Children to Bike Responsibly:
Information on bicycle safety should
be made available through the DOE
Promote “5 to Ride” Pedal Pledge Program - The City should partner with
the “5 to Ride” campaign which was
started as a grassroots effort by the
Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation to make City streets safer for
pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists –
more information can be found
Enforce the rules of the Road
With cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians educated on the rules of the road
and interacting in a safe environment,
the next step is to ensure that the rules
Increase the Number of Police Officers on Bicycles: In order to ensure
enforcement of the rules, the NYPD
should increase the number of officers on bicycles. This will also help
target dangerous behavior, increase
compliance, and minimize injuries.
Target Dangerous Locations:
Enforcement efforts should target the
City’s busiest and most dangerous
arterials and intersections.
Interagency Coordination: There
must be a smooth functioning communications loop among City agencies in order to ensure effective
enforcement of the rules.
Accidents will happen and in order to
limit the City’s liability for legal claims,
proper planning must take place.
Increase Bike Share Insurance: The
Bike Share operator has purchased
liability insurance of up to $10 million
per year. However, $10 million may
be inadequate given the size of NYC’s
program. For the first three years,
the City should require NYC Bike
Share to purchase increased liability
coverage until there is enough historic data to indicate an appropriate
amount of coverage.
Adjust Crash Response Procedures:
The NYPD should increase the number of Accident Investigation Squads
in order to respond to and investigate
underlying causes of accidents. Without such investigations, the insurance process is complicated and the
City’s potential exposure to liability
Increase Data Collection, Reporting and Publication
Transparency and robust data collection is a prerequisite to determining
what is working correctly and what
Create a “BikeStat” Website: DOT
should create “BikeStat,” where anyone can obtain information and statistics on biking in NYC. This will
help policy makers and planners
coordinate information to address
hazardous conditions, improve outreach and education, enhance
enforcement strategies, and increase
accident responsiveness. This would
also empower community members
with the necessary information to
make neighborhood streets safer.