The Three Big Bicyclist Fatality Clusters

It was noted on the Brian Lehrer show this morning that the City’s Bicyclist Fatality and Injury Report (PDF file) identifies three specific locations or "clusters" where bicycle fatalities were unusually common between 1996 and 2005. A "cluster" is defined as "three or more fatalities within 1,000 feet." The three densest clusters were found on the east side of Manhattan north of Midtown, Park Slope in Brooklyn and Hunts Point in the Bronx. From page 11 of the  report:

  • Noteworthy that the Manhattan cluster covers the access/egress from the Queensboro Bridge bikeway – the only decent bike access between Queens and Manhattan?

  • The whole East Side is a mess for a cyclist, especially a commuter cyclist. The East river Greenway abruptly stops at 63rd Street going downtown, forcing cyclists to go over to Second Ave. where there is 5 lanes of active traffic and no bike lane and a traffic knot starting at the 60th that goes up to 68th-72nd street. And there are even about 4-6 traffic officers trying to make it flow better, but the traffic is horrible.

    Furthermore, there is no good link from the bridge to points west of Second Ave., instead forcing cyclists to go back to First Ave, instead of across Second Ave.

    Heavy truck usage in that area also pounds the road into a poor condition, causing many uneven surfaces which cause motorists and cyclists to swerve in strange directions.

    So you have choas for drivers and cyclists around the QBB and the end of the greenway which results lots of dangerous situations (even though it’s a “Greenway connector” zone!!). I try to avoid that whole area as much as possible sometimes take York even though the hill is much steeper or go out to Lex or Park Ave until Grand Central.

  • someguy

    As for the Park Slope cluster, I can definitely understand the crashes in those locations. First you have the dangerous northern portion of 5th Ave, which is narrow, crowded, has much double parking and delivery activity, and no bike lane. Then if you’re going to the Brooklyn Bridge you probably turn left on Bergen Street to head up towards Smith Street. You have to cross 4th Ave, 3rd Ave, Nevins, Hoyt, etc, and generally you want to maintain your speed on this straightaway. I’ve had some close calls on this section myself, and I must say that I take some of the blame, as I’m sure a lot of the bicyclists on this route do. The fact is that when you’re biking you don’t want to lose your momentum because unlike a car it takes effort to get that momentum back. So I take risks when I’m going up 5th Ave and Bergen St.

  • bthirsch

    I think the death cluster data is not nearly as reliable as the accident data. The number of deaths is not sufficient to identify “clusters” with any degree of accuracy. In addition, the definition of a cluster is arbitrary, and someone should really analyze the data using spatial statistics. The latter analysis, as well as any conclusion from this data is a bit suspect if one does not have accurate data on average bike usage by location.
    Now that that disclaimer has been posted.
    This area is horrible for bikes and pedestrians in general. The lack of police enforcement of traffic and parking violations in N Park Slope and Prospect Heights is criminal. Meanwhile, bike lanes have been shrunk (Dean between 5th and Flatbush) or parked over by police cars (Bergen between 6th and Flatbush). I place a good deal of the blame for these conditions on the police. It’s about time they stopped driving their SUV’s to work, got off their asses, and started making their precinct safe for bikes and pedestrians.

  • d

    Could the high clusters have less to do with those areas’ inherent danger and more to do with the huge number of cyclists grouped in those places? Not that more can’t be done to prevent deaths and injuries, but there are more cyclists in and around Park Slope than there are in and around, say, Wall Street.

    The city ought to identify high traffic areas for cyclists, much like it does for cars, and provide infrastructure to suit those neighborhoods.

  • D, agreed – that was my point about the area around the Queensboro Bridge – obviously the bridge “generates” cycling trips in its vicinity.

  • bigmissfrenchie

    I’m an old lady and I ride my bike like one, so while someguy might take risks in those area on 5th Ave and on Bergen Street, I don’t. But still I’ve been nearly taken out by trucks, double-
    parked cars and people opening car doors into the bike lane without looking! I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been forced to stop or go up on the sidewalk because of double parking on both 5th and Bergen. And the cops don’t do a damn thing about it. And let’s not even discuss Court Street; you have to ride your bike and pretend you’re in a video game or some thing in order to keep your reflexes fast enough to respond to everything going on around you.

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