Recent fatal bicycle crashes have prompted New York Department of Transportation officials to revisit the issue of bike lanes throughout New York City, particularly in Manhattan. This year, there have already been six fatal accidents in Manhattan, (this is triple the number for all of 2016).
The rise in both measurable bicycle traffic and fatalities means that city planning officials who were dragging their proverbial feet on adding new, protected bike lanes, must act, and they must act quickly. Even though bike pathways increased by approximately 37.5 miles between 2014 and 2016, the fact that accident rates continue to rise indicates that bicycles and vehicles are not coexisting peacefully.
A new direction for bike path planning?
Primary current bike lanes, both in Manhattan and in other boroughs, are mostly located along the left side of busy thoroughfares in a north-south direction. These mostly face either uptown or downtown, and don’t branch out into smaller areas or side streets. Bicyclists commuting to and from work or for pleasure, and riding their own bikes or one of the many CitiBikes to be found in the NYC metro, often find themselves in close quarters with hurried, frustrated and distracted drivers.
Having protected bike lanes on the side streets as well as the thoroughfares would be a game-changer. Cyclists could easily navigate between the Harlem River and the East River, avoiding the most congested roadways. Fewer bicycle-car interactions inevitably mean fewer bicycle-car accidents.
Details on the current proposal, spurred on by the sharp uptick in accidents and supported by community advocates, transit experts and elected officials are still somewhat sketchy. For example, it is unclear if the new lanes would be protected (cordoned off with barriers, and complete with signals) or not. In addition, it isn’t known if they would be in conjunction with existing paths or wholly independent of the current scheme.
In addition, little is known about how expanding bike paths in the area would impact pedestrian traffic. Pedestrians accidents still occur too frequently and ten pedestrians have been killed in Manhattan alone between January 1 and July 31 of this year. Many others suffered serious injuries.
If you or someone you love is injured as either a bicyclist or a pedestrian on a New York City roadway, you may have legal claims for compensation. Before you take any action, accept an insurance settlement or sign any offers disclaiming liability, you should consult with a lawyer experienced in negligently designed roadway cases.