Ask most any New Yorker to make a list of things they would regard as basic, indisputable rights of citizenship, and this blogger would be willing to bet that one of those rights would have to be the ability for people to move around the city, whether on foot or by bicycle, without having to fear for their safety, even their lives.
But as any city-dweller knows, New York can be a dangerous, unfriendly, place for people making their way around town on foot, or by bike.
Regardless of weather, or time of day or night, sharing the road with reckless motorists is a daily cross your fingers and hope to survive exercise for cyclists that requires vigilance, constant attention, some skill, and plenty of luck to avoid being knocked-down, or run-over and end up in the back of an ambulance on route to the hospital.
According to Mitchel Ashley, a top New York bicycle accident lawyer, and founding partner of The Ashley Law Firm, of all the factors that determine cyclists’ safety when riding around the city, none is more important than how police officers enforce traffic laws.
“Mayor de Blasio’s effort to lower the speed limit in the city from 30 to 25 miles per hour as part of his Vision Zero Action Plan” Ashley said, “is a laudable effort that should help reduce pedestrian and cyclist accidents.
“But the Mayor’s efforts,” he added, “can only work if the new speed limit, and other laws regarding cyclists’ right of way, are strictly enforced by the NYPD.”
A recent study conducted by The New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC), a leading cyclist advocacy group, identified traffic-law violations by motorists as the main cause of fatal bicycling accidents in New York City. According to the study, almost 80% of fatal bicycle crashes in the city over the past 5 years were due to driver carelessness and misconduct.
An NYBC representative, who worked on the study, said that although police prefer to blame cyclist error for most cyclist fatalities, in fact it was driver error that was the principal cause of the majority of fatal bicycle crashes in the city since 2009.
According to the NYBC study, the leading driver violations that caused fatal bike accidents to happen were the following:
- Drivers passing cyclist unsafely or aggressively.
- Cyclists running into opened car doors.
(Fear of being struck from behind is what makes cyclists ride in the “door zone”).
- Drivers turning into cyclists’ path.
- Drivers speeding.
- Drivers running red light or stop signs
While accounting for a much smaller percentage of cyclist accidents in the city, the NYBC report did cite cyclist error as the cause for some accidents. The two most common cyclist errors according to the NYBC were:
- Cyclists running red light or stop sign.
- Cyclists traveling the wrong way on city streets and avenues.
“People who were injured, or killed, on a bicycle as a result of driver carelessness,” Ashley exclaimed, “could have been a family member, your neighbor, or a co-worker. New Yorkers ride their bikes in the city for all kinds of reasons like to get exercise, or to go to the store, or to get to work. And if they are involved in an accident, in most instances it wasn’t because they were riding carelessly.”
If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in a bicycle accident, you should contact the top New York bicycle accident lawyers at The Ashley Law Firm immediately.