Highlights from City’s Bike Fatality & Injury Report

One of the most interesting developments to emerge from today’s big announcement on bike safety is the idea that bicycling is now being treated by city government as a public health issue. This is from the City’s press release:

Bicycle lanes and helmets may reduce the risk of death.

  • Almost three-quarters of fatal crashes (74%) involved a head injury.
  • Nearly all bicyclists who died (97%) were not wearing a helmet.
  • Helmet use among those bicyclists with serious injuries was low (13%), but it was even lower among bicyclists killed (3%).
  • Only one fatal crash with a motor vehicle occurred when a bicyclist was in a marked bike lane.

Nearly all bicyclist deaths (92%) occurred as a result of crashes with motor vehicles.

  • Large vehicles (trucks, buses) were involved in almost one-third (32%) of fatal crashes, but they make up approximately 15% of vehicles on NYC roadways.
  • Most fatal crashes (89%) occurred at or near intersections.
  • Nearly all (94%) fatalities involved human error. All New Yorkers, whether pedestrians, bicyclists or motorists, can help prevent crashes by following traffic signs and signals and respecting other road users.

Men and some children face particular challenges.

  • Most bicyclists who died were males (91%), and men aged 45-54 had the highest death rate (8.1 per million) of any age group.
  • Among children aged 5-14, boys had a much higher death rate than girls; Queens had the highest child bicyclist death rate of the five boroughs.

Possible clusters of deaths and serious injuries were identified.

  • The 3 densest clusters (3 or more fatal crashes within 1,000 feet) were found on the east side of Manhattan north of midtown, Park Slope in Brooklyn (2 near the Western edge closer to the Gowanus Canal), and Hunts Point in the Bronx.
  • Crashes resulting in serious injury (5 or more serious injuries within 250 feet) were clustered in Midtown Manhattan, the northern side of Central Park and the Central Bronx.

Data Sources

Data on fatalities in this report comes from DOT’s Fatality Database. Data on serious injuries comes from the New York State DOT Safety Information Management System (SIMS).

  • This is great information for policy makers. The numbers clearly show that we:
    A. Need more bike lanes
    B. Need more people wearing helmets
    C. Need to train men, kids in particular to ride safer.
    D. Need safer intersections
    E. Need to train truck, bus drivers on how to avoid crashes with cyclists.

  • dirty bodega

    It is interesting for me to read that today the City had made an announcement on bike safety improvement when at around 8ish this morning while riding laps in Central Park I witnesed unsafe bicycle conditions in the bike lane caused by a police barricade that was formed to ticket bicyclists only to then witness a very serious accident on the Hudson River Greenery somewhere around 40th street where it appeared that a bicyclist was heading south when a bus barrelled into the bike lane smashing into her. Many times while riding on the greenery I’ve witnessed motor vehicles turning right onto the various entry points along the path who do not realize that they are proceeding in a total blind spot for pedestrians, roller bladers, and bicyclists who are heading in the same direction. And at numerous points there is no light regulating the two converging paths of traffic. Its strange how the City can pursue creating more so called designated bike lanes when the existing ones that we already have are parking spaces for City Officials or are trafficed by golf carts, vans and trucks. I constantly witness police cars driving on the greenery to avoid traffic and save time. This last spring I witnessed a Parks Department Van that was so adamant and in such a hurry to exit from the center part of Central Park and onto the outer loop that they did not hesitate to litterally brake through hundreds of runners who were participating in a marathon against violence. I’m talking literally driving right into and through the falling runners! A once a year sanctioned permit given event! Its sad, I personally feel all this talk about improving bicycle safety is going to lead to a licensing scheme instead of creating multiple centralized parking lots sprinkled throughout at first Manhattan to clear up the streets of parked cars and prevent possible means for terrorist attacks and restrict motor vehicle traffic for the sake of our health from the toxic emmissions that kill easily 10,000 people a year. Frankly if I believed war was justified I would say lets follow the present administrations example. Lets compare the measly 9/11 attack and compare it to how many lives are lost due to car emmissions and accidents such as drunk driving and obliviousness.

    all apologies for the rant-

    frustrated bicylist

  • Sean

    The stats on head injuries and helmet usage are staggering.

  • questions

    In the cluster areas, is anything being done to address traffic flow, sinage, traffic lighting, etc?

  • Fred James

    Cyclists have to be more and more careful on the Westside bikeway. Most dangerous situation is when both bicycles and cars have green light and car is turning from West Street to cross the bike way. Cyclists, skaters, etc. should be going real slow at all cross sections and be ready to yell at cars if they are making a dangerous move since they often are not aware of what is going on and it is difficult for them to see and be aware of people using the lane. Probably should have double blinking red lights say 50 feet apart in sequence with warning signs about people using the bike lane. This might sound excessive but much more excessive is that someone is killed or seriously injured just for easy-to-happen minor mistakes with serious consequences. It makes no difference that someone is at fault or not. There is the know how, capability, and ample resources to make this path safe at minimal cost and there is no excuse for not doing it. A “Towards Zero Deaths Initiative” started immediately is the most responsible way to go.

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