City Council considering bicycle-safety task force

Bicyclists ride on a bike lane on Broadway near 24th Street in Manhattan on Sept. 21, 2015.
Bicyclists ride on a bike lane on Broadway near 24th Street in Manhattan on Sept. 21, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Neilson Barnard

The City Council is considering the creation of a bicycle-safety task force, which would tackle issues that include cyclist-pedestrian crashes, electric motors and bicycle lanes.

Legislation would require at least ten public hearings on bike safety issues around the city over two years, and include every borough.

It will be reviewed during a City Council hearing on Wednesday, and was introduced on behalf of Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez. Her district includes areas popular with cyclists, such as Astor Place and Union Square.

“We have a lot of seniors who have called our office with complaints when cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road, and present dangerous conditions for pedestrians,” said Matt Viggiano, director of land use and planning for Mendez’s office.

There is a lot of concern about safety and delivery cyclists, as well as electric motors that can make retrofitted bikes go very quickly, he added.

The task force will include DOT and parks department officials, as well as cyclist advocates and transportation experts. It will also look at how the city can get money from the feds to improve bike riding. Following the hearings, it would submit its findings to the mayor and speaker of the City Council.

Twenty cyclists died in crashes in 2014, and four pedestrians were killed by bikes, according to the DOT.

The City Council hearing will also look at a bill that would require the DOT to report yearly all bike-related deaths, including crashes between bikes, and collisions with cars and pedestrians.

Officials will also review on Wednesday legislation that would steepen civil penalties for hit-and-run drivers.