As more New Yorkers bike across the city — not only for pleasure or exercise, but as their main means of transportation — it’s critical that they obey traffic laws.
But too many city cyclists don’t.
They often travel against traffic, run red lights or ride on the sidewalks — and few casual cyclists signal before turning. Such reckless behavior has led to accidents, including a hit-and-run in June in which a cyclist seriously injured a 67-year-old woman on the Upper East Side.
Whether you’re a daily rider or one who takes out a Citi Bike for fun once in a while, remember to follow the same traffic rules as cars. That means stopping at stop signs and red lights as well as signaling and traveling with traffic.
If you don’t, it could cost you. City officials have announced plans to add bike patrols across the Upper East Side in a pilot program that’s an outgrowth of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative — a move to reduce preventable traffic deaths. They’ll combine that enforcement with educational programming and incentives, like free Citi Bike day memberships for those who take safety classes. And they’ll even throw in free vests, lights and bells for commercial cyclists who complete the training.
It’s an effort many — from the City Council and the NYPD to nonprofits like Bike New York and the privately funded Citi Bike — are getting behind. Now, local businesses and individual cyclists have to do their parts. City restaurants should take care of their bicycle delivery staffs by providing vests, bells and other gear. Individuals have to educate themselves, slow down and travel safely.
But this isn’t just about cyclist safety. Pedestrians and drivers have to obey traffic laws and pay attention to the bicycle lanes that stretch across many parts of the city.
Part of de Blasio’s Vision Zero effort includes the new Right of Way law, which targets drivers who hit pedestrians or cyclists. But the responsibility lies with all three groups. If everyone is more cautious, alert and attentive to the rules of the road, accidents like last month’s hit-and-run can be prevented.