New York City is on pace to see the deadliest year for bike riders since 1999, according to a new study, which revealed that 25 pedal-pushers have died in crashes since Jan 1.
The analysis, conducted by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, shows that Mayor Eric Adams’ tenure is slated to be particularly deadly for bikers — as this is already the deadliest first two years for bike riders of any mayor’s term in recorded history, with over two months still remaining.
“Mayor Adams has the tools to end traffic violence and yet he continues to put politics over people. We’re facing a crisis of traffic violence on our streets — 183 New Yorkers killed in traffic violence and the deadliest two years for bike riders under any mayor in recorded history,” said Danny Harris, the Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives.
According to the analysis, 94% of bike riders who died this year were killed by vehicles on streets without protected bike lanes.
“Announcements alone are not infrastructure. Promises won’t keep bike riders safe – but completed, fully-protected bike lanes will,” Harris said. “The time to act is now. Fast track the Streets Plan without any more delays or excuses. Lives depend on it.”
In places where protected bike lanes have been put in place, physically separating bikes from cars, cycling rates have increased — while reducing fatalities and injuries for all road users by 18.1%.
Still, only 3% of New York City’s streets have a protected bike lane.
Families for Safe Streets member Porscha McLaurin, whose son was killed in a hit-and-run while riding a Citi Bike in Queens earlier this year, demanded action to keep pedal-pushers safe on Big Apple streets.
“Just six months ago, my family was shattered forever by the loss of my sweet, caring 16-year-old son Jayden, who was killed riding his bike near our home in Queens by the driver of a speeding SUV,” said McLaurin. “We should not have to beg Mayor Adams and the City Council to complete legal requirements to build safe streets. The lack of action from Mayor Adams is insulting to people like me and everyone who has lost a loved one to traffic crashes.”
Jayden McLaurin was killed by the driver of an SUV — which are the vehicles most responsible for pedestrian and cyclist deaths, as they’ve been responsible for killing 36 of people that were walking or riding bikes, according to the study.
“The deadliest year for bike riders since 1999, and it’s only been 24 years since then. Yet, somehow, we’re going backward, not forward,” said Manhattan Council Member Diana Ayala. “It’s unacceptable that we, as a city, continue to allow this to happen.”
While the situation on the streets for cyclists is moving in the wrong direction, the study did note that pedestrians have actually been safer recently — as this is the second safest first nine months for pedestrians since 2014, when New York City launched “Vision Zero” to improve road safety.
Still, advocates are arguing that elected leaders and the Department of Transportation could be doing more to help.
Council District 31 in Queens, represented by Selvena Brooks-Powers, has been the single more dangerous area in the city — and the Council Member pledged to fight to turn that trend around.
“I am deeply alarmed by the high incidence of traffic violence this year, including and especially in my district,” said Selvena Brooks-Powers. “The report underscores the urgent need for investments in our street infrastructure and also reflects historic failures to prioritize investments in outer-borough communities like the one I represent.”
Among the specific demands made by activists was to recommit to the “NYC Streets Plan” that would create more cycling and pedestrian safety measures on city streets. Last year, the Adams administration failed to meet the goal of 30 miles of new protected bike lanes, and have so far built just 13.5 out of the 50 miles required this year.
“Mayor Adams must correct course immediately and place New Yorkers’ lives above all other interests. Every road user is at risk right now; our lives will depend on this administration’s swift completion of the legally mandated Streets Plan, and a complete reprioritization toward safe, people-friendly, life-saving streets,” said Sara Lind, Co-Executive Director at Open Plans.