Bicycle safety in New York City is something of a paradox. Due to the ongoing motor vehicle traffic and pollution issues, the city is actively encouraging more New Yorkers to travel by bicycle, its "Green Wave" and Vision Zero initiatives adding an average of 62 miles of bike lanes each year. On the other hand, bicycle accidents, injuries, and deaths still occur far too often in NYC, and the numbers have even ticked up over the last couple of years. Let's take a closer look at these safety concerns. Is cycling in New York City safe, or is it too much of a risk?
An Overview of Bicycle Safety Stats in NYC
To provide a proper context, riding a bike in NYC used to be far more dangerous than it is today. According to ridership statistic reports compiled by the city, the Bicyclist Severe Injury and Fatality (KSI) rate in 2000 was 83.7 per 10 million cycling trips. Thanks to the city's efforts to promote bicycle safety, by 2018, the KSI rate had dropped to 17.1 per 10 million—a decrease of 80 percent.
However, over the past couple of years, the rate of bicycle casualties has begun to climb again. In 2019, NYC saw 27 bike-related fatalities, compared to only 10 the year before—the most since 1999—and more than 3800 bicycle injury accidents involving motor vehicles. The 2020 pandemic also seems to have made the problem worse. A few weeks into the lockdowns, the NYPD reported that bicycle injury accidents were already up by 43 percent over the previous year, primarily due to drivers speeding down less congested streets.
Tips for Safer Cycling in NYC
Statistically speaking, it's safer now to ride a bike in New York City than it was two decades ago—but the recent upticks tell us that both motorists and cyclists need to exercise more caution. Some tips for riding more safely in NYC:
Use designated bike lanes whenever possible. While not foolproof, riding in marked lanes makes it easier for motorists to see you.
Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid high traffic streets when possible, and be aware of other vehicles, even on low-traffic streets. Be mindful when driving by parked cars to avoid being "doored."
Obey traffic laws. Many bicycle accidents occur because riders didn't heed traffic signals or were riding on the wrong side of the road, making it harder for motorists to avoid them.
When you drive, watch for cyclists yourself. Share the road.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a bicycle accident due to a motorist's carelessness or negligence, our attorneys can help you get much-needed compensation. Call our offices to discuss your options.