NYC Citi Bike Share Program Leads to Bike Safety Debate

New York City’s crowded streets are about to gain some additional traffic – not from taxis or other motor vehicles as you might expect, but in the form of up to 10,000 bicycles that will be a part of the Citi Bike share program. The program has raised some eyebrows, as New York residents wonder how the addition of these bikes on our streets will affect safety.

Mayor Bloomberg’s program seeks to put bikes in approximately 600 stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. These bicycles are meant to act as an alternative mode of transportation for New Yorkers, as they can be rented from one station for a small fee and returned to a different station near the cyclist’s destination.

The program comes at a time when bicycling in New York City is on the rise. In 2011, bicycles were the preferred mode of transportation when commuting to work for almost 20,000 New Yorkers – twice as many as in 2006.

Those raising concerns about the implementation of the Citi Bike share program focus primarily on safety, for both pedestrians and bicyclists. With the increase in popularity of bicycling in New York City, a corresponding rise in the number of accidents has been reported. In 2009, there were 286 injuries and 12 fatalities from bike accidents – just one year later, in 2010, that number jumped to 368 accidents and 19 fatalities.

People often overlook the importance of bicyclists and pedestrians sharing the sidewalks in a safe manner. According to a study conducted in 2011, though, over 500 pedestrians in NYC sustained injuries that sent them to the hospital after colliding with bicyclists.

Proponents of the program point out that the health benefits from traveling via bicycle outweigh the safety concerns. In addition, they contend that increasing bike traffic on New York streets will make bicyclists in general more visible, and will help everyone on the streets become accustomed to sharing the roads.

When heading out for a ride, it is always advisable to wear a helmet and be mindful of motor vehicles and pedestrians with whom you are sharing the road.

Source: Time, “New York City’s Bicycle Wars,” Bryan Walsh, July 3, 2012.

Our firm handles cases in which bicyclists are injured on the road. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our New York City Bicycle Accident page.

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