Study: 1,000 Peds Injured Annually By Cyclists Statewide; Number Is Dropping

Follow the tabloid media, and you’d think that New York City has been swept by “bike bedlam,” a tide of scofflaw cyclists striking fear into the hearts of pedestrians everywhere. Sift through actual pedestrian safety data, and the actual risk posed by cyclists pales in comparison to that posed by motor vehicles: while over the last five years, 766 city pedestrians have been killed by drivers, only three were killed by cyclists. Even so, it’s generally been difficult to measure exactly how many — or how few — pedestrians are injured by cyclists every year.

New research from two Hunter College professors provides a precise count of pedestrian injuries caused by bikes in New York state. Using a comprehensive statewide database, sociologist Peter Tuckel and urban planner William Milczarski found that each year, an average of roughly 1,000 pedestrians received medical treatment after crashes with cyclists. A little over half of those injuries, 55 percent, took place in New York City.

Tuckel and Milczarski’s statistics show a larger number of pedestrians injured by cyclists than previous estimates; earlier research found that about 1,200 pedestrians nationwide are treated in emergency rooms each year as a result of bike crashes. But the new data also suggest that the injuries tend not to be severe. Statewide, an average about 85 pedestrians are admitted to hospitals as in-patients as a result of these crashes each year; the rest had injuries that could be treated on an out-patient basis.

For comparison’s sake, statewide, 15,321 pedestrians are injured by motor vehicles every year, according to the state DMV, with more than 10,000 of them in New York City. More than 300 pedestrians are killed by drivers every year statewide, while the number of pedestrian fatalities caused by cyclists averages less than one per year.

Given the quality of past reporting on bike-on-ped crashes, many reporters will undoubtedly try to imply some sort of connection between the number of pedestrian injuries and the city’s bike policy. But the stats show no such link. Pedestrian injuries caused by cyclists are declining even as the popularity of cycling continues to rise. In 2007 and 2008, Tuckel and Milczarski counted 1,097 and 1,112 pedestrian injuries caused by crashes with bikes. The following two years, those numbers dropped to 985 and then 927. With only four years of data, it’s too early to tell whether a trend is at work, but there’s no evidence that the city’s effort to build better bike infrastructure has led to an increase in bike-caused injuries. (There is solid evidence that bike lanes reduce the incidence of motor vehicle crashes that kill pedestrians: The New York City Department of Transportation has found that controlling for other factors, bike lanes made streets 40 percent less deadly for people on foot.)

“No death or serious injury is acceptable on our streets,” said Transportation Alternatives spokesperson Michael Murphy in response to the new data. “There is strong evidence that bike behavior is improving as bicycling is becoming more mainstream. According to the study, bike on pedestrian injuries declined 15% from 2007 to 2010. During this same four year period, cycling in New York City increased over 50 percent.”

Added Murphy, “Let’s also remember to put this in context. Motor vehicles are responsible for over 70,000 injuries every year in New York City, and hundreds of annual deaths. We can ignore that number and bash bikes, or we can get serious about safety and work to stop all traffic casualties.”

Nancy Gruskin, who initiated the study as part of her efforts to promote attentive cycling in the wake of her husband’s death in a collision with a cyclist, said the pedestrian injury stats should inform the city’s bike-share plans. “Considering the alarming statistics in the Hunter study, I am concerned that safety precautions are not front and center as the Bike Sharing program is unveiled,” she said in a press release accompanying the report. “Putting 10,000 more bikes on city streets without an enforceable plan for safety could be cause for concern. But if a good safety plan is put in place, bike sharing could be a great addition to New York City.” (Meanwhile, study co-author Milczarski told Transportation Nation’s Andrea Bernstein that he supports the city’s planned bike-share program.)

Research shows that pedestrians are safer in places with greater numbers of cyclists on the street, however. A study released early this year by civil engineering professors Wesley Marshall and Norman Garrick, for instance, highlighted these indirect pedestrian safety effects. They found that of 24 California cities, those with high cycling rates had lower risk of fatal or severe traffic crashes for all road users. In other words, cities with more people on bikes are safer for pedestrians. Marshall and Garrick don’t presume to have a definitive answer about what causes this effect, but they offer these potential explanations in their conclusion:

The fact that this pattern is consistent for all classes of road users strongly suggests crashes in these high-biking cities are at lower speeds. Such differences seem to be partly due to street network design but also due to other design elements that may well attract larger numbers of bicyclists. While the bicycle infrastructure itself might help in traffic calming, it may be that the actual presence of a large numbers of bicyclists can change the dynamics of the street enough to lower vehicle speeds.

  • Nancygruskin4

    Noah.. I did not commission this study….  which implies payment to Hunter College for the study.  No such thing was done.. they are independent researchers.  nancy gruskin

  • Amazed

    What is “alarming” about a 15% reduction in injuries?  It’s a poor choice of words on Gruskin’s part, since a better word might be “surprising.”  Cycling levels have increased exponentially over the past four years, yet the number of bike-on-ped injuries has gone down – that’s amazing, encouraging, and heartening.  It’s anything but alarming.

  • Jeremy

    It’s awfully discouraging that Transportation Alternatives does not take bike vs. ped injuries more seriously.  Any real effort at discussion of pedestrian safety with respect to cyclist behavior is “bash[ing] bikes.” 

    They’re going on a press offensive to try and shell game the injuries to the 500 pedestrians by comparing the number to *all* injuries (70,000) sustained in all car accidents (including highway accidents), not car vs. pedestrian.  It’s deliberately misleading.  If one were looking for a moment that crystallized Transportation Alternatives’ disregard for pedestrians when it comes to rogue cyclists, it’s now.

  • Kencam

    While any injury is a data point for planning better, safer streets, I want to see a breakout of how many of the reported injuries are due in any way to unsafe cycling.  Surely some, if not many or most, of these injuries are due to inattention or unsafe conduct by the pedestrian.  I see people step out in front of cyclists all the time against the traffic signal and without looking.  Where is the rest of the story here?

  • ddartley

    In the measured years with the greatest increase in bike lanes, bike on ped injuries were down.  And, as others have pointed out, numbers of cyclists have also been increasing while the bike on ped injuries have gone down (aside from 07 to 08).

  • These researchers only did half their job. The number of death by falls in New York (in 2009, the most recent reporting period) is 388. Surely some of those people fell while on the street or sidewalk. What is the number of pedestrian-only injuries (i.e. falls) as recorded by hospitals to compare to bicycle-on-pedestrian injuries? It is meaningless to look at numbers for one type of incident without comparing them to other categories.

  • Side topic: Someone I know is trying to argue that it is illegal, in NY, for bikes to pass on the right. Anyone know the statute where it clears bikes for passing on the right?

  • Anonymous

    So yearly, approximately 1,000 pedestrians are injured as a result of bikes-ped accidents and 15,000 as a result of car-ped accidents. Yet, I presume the ratio of cars to bikes on the road at any particular time statewide far exceeds 15 to 1. In other words, once biking and driving figures are adjusted, bikers hospitalize pedestrians at a higher rate than drivers. To me, this is a bit “alarming”

    Now of course, cars pose a much more deadly (and thus serious) danger, but I think these numbers indicate that careless cyclists present a serious danger to people, and people and organizations (I’m thinking of TA) should not continue to downplay this fact. 

  • eLK

    Are these crashes caused by bikes or crashes involving bikes?  It’s not clear from what I’ve read of the report.

  • Anonymous

    It’s all bike-ped accidents. They do not take into account whose fault it was just as the car-ped figures (cited by TA) don’t take it account. 

  • Pedestrian

    Jeremy,

    What part of ““No death or serious injury is acceptable on our streets,” doesn’t sound like TA takes bike-on-ped seriously enough?

    Also, if you remove highway accidents and limit the statistics to car-on-ped accidents, you still have tens of thousands of injuries. Is that still comparable to about 250 bike-on-ped injuries per year?

  • > So yearly, approximately 1,000 pedestrians are injured as a result of
    bikes-ped accidents and 15,000 as a result of car-ped accidents. Yet, I
    presume the ratio of cars to bikes on the road at any particular time
    statewide far exceeds 15 to 1.

    This assumes that pedestrian activity is evenly distributed across the state. Sadly, it is not. In most places the streets and roads are so hostile to walking that people choose to live and die in their cars instead. Pedestrian fatality rates reflect this.

    Where the streets are more inviting you’ll find more people using them, on foot and on bicycle. Pedestrian and cyclist activity is very naturally concentrated in the same places. In those spots, you can see quite a lot more than one cyclist per fifteen motorists. But if you lump all the numbers into statewide sums compared to presumed statewide activity, you are giving motorists credit for not running over pedestrians while they zoom around on highways with zero pedestrians. Why invite this distortion?

    In any case, shouldn’t we (as people who want to see fewer pedestrians killed, by any means) be talking about building more bicycle lanes, which have proven to reduce pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist injuries and deaths? Pointing statistically confounded fingers at behaviors of groups has not been been proven to achieve anything but acrimony.

  • Anonymous

    @Nathan:disqus 

    I don’t presume that its even across the state. But I would guess that it is approximately 15 to 1 in places such as Manhattan, and a far greater ratio (maybe 200 or more to 1?) in places in rural NY. 
    According to the Times, 200,000 people ride their bikes a day. I can’t find a figure for cars, but combined well over 2 million cars (yes a lot of cars are probably counted twice) travel over City bridges and tunnels on a daily basis. Of course most drivers in the City don’t go over bridges or tunnels on a daily basis. 

    Besides, whatever the exact ratio is, I don’t think it takes away the validity from my original post. 

  • MFS

    Can anyone make sense of the top zipcodes listed on page 9?  Many seem counterintuitive with relation to neighborhoods with high number of bikes.  Maybe absence of bike lanes plays a role here?

  • Nik

    Well, why don’t they make pedestrians wear helmets.  Wouldn’t that be the solution to the pedestrian safety problem.  Helmets will make you safer!

  • Sir Vey

    “Putting 10,000 more bikes on city streets without an enforceable plan
    for safety could be cause for concern. But if a good safety plan is put
    in place, bike sharing could be a great addition to New York City.”

    If 10,000 cars showed up on city streets tomorrow, no one would blink and eye or call for “enforceable” safety plans.  It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people, but one of the most basic safety plans you can have when it comes to cycling is to get more cyclists on the road.  The same does not hold true for cars.

  • wkgreen

    “… cities with more people on bikes are safer for pedestrians. Marshall and
    Garrick don’t presume to have a definitive answer about what causes this
    effect…”

    Perhaps it has to do with predictability. Where the presence of bicycles is common and expected, pedestrians will be alert to them and a common understanding of ‘rules of the road’ can develop between them. It is when a rare bike comes out of nowhere or where cyclists and pedestrians have no interconnection that people get hurt.

  • Joe R.

    @ocm123:disqus “Now of course, cars pose a much more deadly (and thus serious) danger, but I think these numbers indicate that careless cyclists present a serious danger to people, and people and organizations (I’m thinking of TA) should not continue to downplay this fact.”

    The big problem with a statement like this is the implicit assumption that the cyclist is at fault in bike-ped collisions.  Based on what I see every day, people generally cross the street in a coma, with their heads buried in their i-thingy, wherever they please, whenever they please, without even a cursory glance to see if it’s clear.  This is one area where I actually have some sympathy with motorists.  I’ve noticed when riding in cars that pedestrians basically do whatever they want, whenever they want.  If they don’t even look for cars while crossing, then I highly doubt any are looking for bikes.  You even have plenty of stories to that effect here on Streetsblog of pedestrians wandering into bike lanes or otherwise darting out suddenly in front of moving cyclists.  This isn’t to excuse lousy cycling practices like barreling along at full speed on crowded sidewalks, or flying through red lights when crosswalks are full of people crossing.  I’m just saying, as others have, that I’ll bet in 90% of these bike-ped injuries the pedestrian is the primary cause.  It’s not that hard to avoid hitting a person while riding a bike, provided the person is acting at least remotely predictably (i.e. at even 10% of the alertness level of the typical cyclist).  Indeed, in 33 years I’ve yet to hit a pedestrian.  However, some of the things I see pedestrians do are so over the top it’s a miracle they get through the day.  This isn’t about saying pedestrians should follow the laws, either.  I personally couldn’t care less if people jaywalk and cross on red all day long.  I do both myself.  However, I do something I see a lot of people not doing-namely I look both ways before crossing any street, whether or not I have the light.  Red lights don’t magically stop cars. And even though motorists/cyclists are supposed to yield to peds when turning, I never gamble with my life on the assumption they will.

    The truth is cyclists have a far greater vested interest avoiding pedestrians than motorists.  If I hit a pedestrian while doing 20-25 mph on my bike, I’ll probably get hurt worse than they will.  On the flip side, there’s more than enough room on the roads (other than those gutters which we call protected bike lanes) such that if both parties are reasonably alert, collisions just shouldn’t happen.  Sure, as the operator of a small, fast-moving machine it’s more incumbent upon me to avoid entanglements with pedestrians.  However, I expect the pedestrian to do their part but not suddenly deciding to dart into the street from behind a parked truck when I’m 3 feet away.  Try as I might, I can’t always avoid hitting them when they pull stunts like that.  Thankfully such a thing only happened to me once, with no consequences thanks to my quick reflexes, but I can’t guarantee a similar result next time.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Well we now have something like a real number — 550 in NYC — that can be brought down by identifying the problems and working to solve them.

    But the number isn’t in context.  I think that requires three things.  

    First, the number of visits to hospitals due to pedestrian collisions with other pedestrians, or to simple falls without collisions, needs to be tabulated as well.  That number isn’t zero, based on the number of trip and fall lawsuits filed against the city.

    Second, both cyclists and motor vehicles involved in collisions need to be divided by category.  Private car, truck, bus or taxi?  Commercial cyclist, cyclist riding fast for exercise, or person riding a bicycle for transportation?

    And finally, the data needs to be tabulated the same way year after year.

  • I love hearing about Wes and Dr. Garrick on this blog!

  • Rider

    I think Nancy Gruskin needs to educate herself a tad more on urban planning – more bikes means safer streets and 10,000 people riding giant bike share bikes will help, not hurt. 

    Still, it is almost impossible to draw any conclusions from this study, since, as others have mentioned, it doesn’t assign fault to any of the accidents.  If 50% were caused by careless pedestrians and 50% by reckless cyclists, I’m not sure what you could do with that information.  What if 80% of the accidents were caused, indirectly, by dangerous drivers squeezing peds and cyclists?  What “enforceable plan for safety” would she suggest then?

    Additionally, we already have an “enforceable” safety plan for all street users.  The problem is that the NYPD does not enforce things that would actually make people safer.  While they are busy ticketing people for running lights at empty intersections or blocking a bike lane and then ticketing people for riding outside of the bike lane, countless street users are doing things that are actually dangerous – cyclists ride the wrong way down one-way streets, and drivers routinely break the speed limit by 10 or 20 mph in residential and pedestrian neighborhoods and run red lights.

    Not that there doesn’t need to be some better behavior from our friends on two wheels, but I think Gruskin could still serve her cause if she took the focus off of getting cyclists to get in line and instead brushed up on street design.  She should make traffic calming in general, and not chastising cyclists specifically, her foundation’s goal.

  • Certainly 550 injuries in the city involving bike/ped is 550 too many.  But so is the death of nearly 300 pedestrians involving automobiles.  The most important figure in street safety is the total number of injuries and fatalities to all users especially the most vulnerable. and research shows that streets with more bikes have fewer injuries.  The cities own statistics show fewer injuries on streets with bike lanes installed.

    We need to reduce the number of all traffic related fatalities in the city and the simple fact is that cars are involved in almost all of them(most years literally all of them).  It is silly to point at bikes and act like some magic enforcement of bikes is going to make our streets safer.  If anything it will only discourage biking and as previously mentioned make our streets less safe.

  • Certainly 550 injuries in the city involving bike/ped is 550 too many.  But so is the death of nearly 300 pedestrians involving automobiles.  The most important figure in street safety is the total number of injuries and fatalities to all users especially the most vulnerable. and research shows that streets with more bikes have fewer injuries.  The cities own statistics show fewer injuries on streets with bike lanes installed.

    We need to reduce the number of all traffic related fatalities in the city and the simple fact is that cars are involved in almost all of them(most years literally all of them).  It is silly to point at bikes and act like some magic enforcement of bikes is going to make our streets safer.  If anything it will only discourage biking and as previously mentioned make our streets less safe.

  • carma

    larry, i agree, more data can address more of the issue here, but i would bet the two primary causes for the injuries are 
    1.  pedestrian inattentiveness no matter who has right of way.  as a pedestrian, you are most vulnerable and need to look at your surroundings and get off your iPhone/iPod/texting etc…  look up, not down.

    2.  leading off from number 1 in that you need to pay attention, sometimes, you would look in the direction you are supposed to look and instead you get smacked by a salmon cyclist.  the blame on this situation would totally be on the cyclist, but a pedestrian still should be aware of these type of folks.

  • I’d like to know how many of those bike-pedestrian collisions were actually a cyclists fault and how many happened because the pedestrian walked into the street or bikeway without looking.

  • Anonymous

    I, too, wish that fault could be assigned for each injury in this data. I would’ve had a hard time believing that some pedestrians were at fault for their own injuries until recently, when I had my first close brush with hitting someone – a pedestrian who stepped off the curb into a bike lane against the light on 2nd Avenue, engrossed in her phone. I missed her by mere inches, but I can’t think everyone is as lucky as I was.

  • Anonymous

    I, too, wish that fault could be assigned for each injury in this data. I would’ve had a hard time believing that some pedestrians were at fault for their own injuries until recently, when I had my first close brush with hitting someone – a pedestrian who stepped off the curb into a bike lane against the light on 2nd Avenue, engrossed in her phone. I missed her by mere inches, but I can’t think everyone is as lucky as I was.

  • I think fault is totally not the point here.  What we have is 500 non-serious injuries, 80 serious injuries, and less than one fatality a year.  These numbers are a small drop in the bucket of overall street safety and are out weighed by the safety gains of increased cycling.

  • Eric

    Are there counts of cyclist injuries in these bike-ped collisions?  Two weeks ago on the Hudson River Greenway in a ‘non-shared’ section, a jogger did a sudden u-turn as a I passed her putting her head into my nose, breaking it.   She jogged away as I biked to the ER. 

  • dporpentine

    Gruskin is a classic concern troll who traffics in bike scare stories for . . . no end that I actually understand.

    If all you care about is the fatal event that’s the 1 in the 300:1 ratio, you’re not a serious person. End of story.

  • Anonymous

    Eric, I think fault is the point to an extent. If the number of pedestrians responsible for these injuries is significant enough, maybe some education or changes in street design are needed to help prevent injuries. I’ve often suggested that markings on the sidewalk for pedestrians would be helpful on streets with separated bike lanes as a reminder not to step out into bike traffic. If that would help prevent some pedestrian injuries, I’d think it’s worth it.

  • MFS

    Gruskin is a person who is rightly concerned about the minority of reckless cyclists who are ruining the image of biking for the rest of us. Just because she’s focused on one part of street safety doesn’t mean she is opposed to all bikers and her quote is pretty clear that she’s not opposed to bike share.  My fellow bikers need to get a grip and look at what this study means more carefully.

    Also, no one has addressed my point of why injuries are higher in zip codes that don’t have many bike lanes or bikers.

  • MFS

    Also:

    http://www.transalt.org/newsroom/media/4995

    “Showing just how out of touch our leaders are from our needs, among the
    New Yorkers who did speak in favor of bike lanes was Nancy Gruskin whose
    husband was hit and killed by a cyclist. She wanted more care
    exercised by cyclists, and more order on the road.”

  • dporpentine

    @ce04061b594359a15da01156e28a7a61:disqus I have been watching this Gruskin character for some time. She has one cudgel and, though she claims it’s for all road users, she only actually uses it for bikes.

    She may be serious as a private person; I’m not questioning that. But when she interposes herself into the very serious public discussion of road safety, she’s a troll who wants people to look at an event that happens more rarely than people getting killed by cranes.

  • Mike

    MFS, your comment is not accurate.  The zip codes are of the pedestrians’ residences, not of where the incidents occurred.

  • Len D

    The most interesting thing that jumps out from this study to me is the fact that 24% of the peds were under 10 and 50% under 20.  It makes me wonder if a large percentage of these incidents are in fact young children crashing into their playmates. Not the type of interaction that is being talked about in reaction to this paper. That being said the response by some, that cars are much worse than bikes–look at how many more injuries/deaths they cause– seems counterproductive

  • Chris

    Nice article.

    There is constant theme to comments on streetsblog. Bikes can do no wrong. Bikes hit pedestrians, it’s the pedestrains fault. Car hits bikes, it’s always the cars fault

    Cars are enemy number one to pedestrians and bikes, far and away the greatest concern. Why oh why can’t cyclist understand that a concern to walkers, small but still real, is bikes.

    This bikes can do no wrong attitude is smug and off-putting and does nothing to advance the real agenda of safer streets for anyone not in a car…..

  • MFS

    @Mike:twitter  Then (as a thought experiment) if it’s just that these people are getting hit outside of their neighborhood, say, entirely in midtown manhattan by messengers, then the densest zipcodes should be the most frequent.  But that is not the case.  You would also test this hypothesis by seeing if NJ residents showed up in NYC hospitals with these injuries (if there is a decent number, then it’s a CBD issue) and if there is a strong correlation between zipcode residence and place of hospital admission (if there is, it’s a neighborhood issue).

  • moocow

    I broke my collarbone on a jaywalker in the E. Village years ago. The cop that showed up essentially refused to take an accident report, and I was out of work for 8 weeks. The jaywalker was uninjured.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The most interesting thing that jumps out from this study to me is the fact that 24% of the peds were under 10 and 50% under 20.  It makes me wonder if a large percentage of these incidents are in fact young children crashing into their playmates.”

    Clearly there is some of that.  And I’ll bet children under 12 riding too fast on the sidewalk and striking non-children is another factor.  Neither has anything to do with people riding for transportation.

    But otherwise, I agree with Chris.  Bikes need to take extra care in proximity to pedestrians, just as bike riders would prefer that cars take extra care around bikes. 

    And it all comes down to speed.  If you go slow enough near pedestrians, you can stop before hitting them almost all the time even if they do something clueless.

    Another aspect of children — they get excited and screw up.  For example, there was an adult with two toddlers and a leased dog standing next to the PPW bike lane yesterday.  The toddlers were excited to go in the park.  You need to slow to ped speed around people like that.

  • dporpentine

    @d6f64b0a07fd6caa8cfb9b630cc1c9b7:disqus

    There is constant theme to comments on streetsblog. Bikes can do no wrong.

    This is, uh, delusional. Look at the comments on this very thread. And maybe look at this thread too:
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/08/31/cyclist-erica-abbott-killed-in-williamsburg/
    What are the people on here supposed to do? Scream “mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” every time someone says that people on bikes do sometimes hurt people who are not on bikes? That’s the only story all kinds of news outlets want to tell, and God knows that what most people commenting on news sites want to say. But it’s a wildly distorted view of the actual problems on our streets.

  • dporpentine

    @d6f64b0a07fd6caa8cfb9b630cc1c9b7:disqus

    There is constant theme to comments on streetsblog. Bikes can do no wrong.

    This is, uh, delusional. Look at the comments on this very thread. And maybe look at this thread too:
    http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/08/31/cyclist-erica-abbott-killed-in-williamsburg/
    What are the people on here supposed to do? Scream “mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” every time someone says that people on bikes do sometimes hurt people who are not on bikes? That’s the only story all kinds of news outlets want to tell, and God knows that what most people commenting on news sites want to say. But it’s a wildly distorted view of the actual problems on our streets.

  • Rider

    Can’t both things be true?  Isn’t it possible that Nancy Gruskin A) has every right to be concerned about cyclist-on-ped accidents even if such incidents are extremely rare and that B) she’s going about it in entirely the wrong way?

    She’s aligned herself with Tony Aiello, who is exhibit A if you want an example of the media’s windshield perspective.  Even though she is not responsible for how many stories are produced or written, she consistently appears whenever the media needs a sympathetic character in their “bike bedlam” stories.  (If she’s not directly quoted in a story, her friend and noted bike hater Nancy Linday is.)  She says that the results of the Hunter study are “alarming,” when they show that the injury rate has gone down by 15% in four years.

    I think she needs to take more responsibility for her words, considering how vile some of the anti-bike rhetoric is and how easily the media will twist her words and image to suit their narrative.

    There’s a lot to admire in Gruskin, but I do believe she needs a greater education on many of the issues she gets behind.  Her foundation could be a major player in the livable streets movement if it exited the orbit of the usual suspects of bike hate and started doing some serious research, outreach, and education campaigns.  Sadly, I think the path she’s on now will ultimately lead to her foundation being as marginalized as some of the bike haters I think she’d want to distance herself from.

  • Rider

    Can’t both things be true?  Isn’t it possible that Nancy Gruskin A) has every right to be concerned about cyclist-on-ped accidents even if such incidents are extremely rare and that B) she’s going about it in entirely the wrong way?

    She’s aligned herself with Tony Aiello, who is exhibit A if you want an example of the media’s windshield perspective.  Even though she is not responsible for how many stories are produced or written, she consistently appears whenever the media needs a sympathetic character in their “bike bedlam” stories.  (If she’s not directly quoted in a story, her friend and noted bike hater Nancy Linday is.)  She says that the results of the Hunter study are “alarming,” when they show that the injury rate has gone down by 15% in four years.

    I think she needs to take more responsibility for her words, considering how vile some of the anti-bike rhetoric is and how easily the media will twist her words and image to suit their narrative.

    There’s a lot to admire in Gruskin, but I do believe she needs a greater education on many of the issues she gets behind.  Her foundation could be a major player in the livable streets movement if it exited the orbit of the usual suspects of bike hate and started doing some serious research, outreach, and education campaigns.  Sadly, I think the path she’s on now will ultimately lead to her foundation being as marginalized as some of the bike haters I think she’d want to distance herself from.

  • Chris

    Larry: yes, it’s all about speed. Just as slowing the average speed of cars goes a long way to diminishing accidents, and more importantly fatalitys, much would go smoother if bikes themselves kept at a moderate speed.

  • Rich C

    Jass said ” Someone I know is trying to argue that it is illegal, in NY, for bikes to pass on the right. Anyone know the statute where it clears bikes for passing on the right?”

    Response:   Generally, passing on the right IS illegal, and for cyclists, very dangerous at intersections, because the cyclist is 1) in a blind spot for most vehicles; 2) in a position where a right-turning driver is not expecting to be passed; 3)in a place where a driver is unlikely to look for a possible collision.    
    So, to answer your question about the statute–there isn’t one that clears cyclists to pass on the rigtht.   The statutes probably prohibit it.   Here’s how.   NYS VTL 1231 give cyclists all the rights and all the responsibilities of drivers of vehicles.   That means that much of the rest of the NYS Vehicle code–not just the bike section–also applies to cyclists,  at least as far as behavior on the road.   So the relevant portions that would be applicable to cyclists from VTL 1231 are VTL 1120(6b), slower traffic should drive to the right, VTL 1122, faster traffic should pass on the left, and VTL 1123, which allows passing on the right side of a left-turning vehicle.  

  • Driver

    Jass, I posted a reply last night, but it seems to have disappeared.  

    From the NYS DMV website:
    PASSING ON THE RIGHT

    You should usually pass other vehicles on the left, but passing on
    the right is allowed in certain situations. You may pass a vehicle on
    the right only in the situations listed below, and only if you can do so
    safely. You may not drive on or across the shoulder or edge line of the
    road unless a sign permits it. You may pass on the right:

    When a vehicle ahead is making a left turn.
    When you are driving on a one-way road that is marked for two or
    more lanes or is wide enough for two or more lanes, and passing is not
    restricted by signs.

    If you are going to pass on the right at an intersection, check
    traffic ahead carefully. Make sure an oncoming vehicle is not turning
    left into your path, and watch out at the right side of the road for
    pedestrians, bicyclists, in-line skaters and moped riders.

    Before you pass on the right on multilane roads such as expressways,
    make sure you check your mirrors, use the proper signals for lane
    change, and look over your right shoulder for other vehicles. After
    passing, be sure to check over your left shoulder, and to signal, before
    returning to the left lane.You can also take this into consideration from the NYS DOT website:Section 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle lanes and bicycle paths.

    (a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle
    shall be driven either on a usable bicycle lane or, if a usable bicycle
    lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the
    roadway or upon a usable right- hand shoulder in such a manner as to
    prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when
    preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid
    conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the
    right-hand curb or edge. Conditions to be taken into consideration
    include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles,
    bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too
    narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within
    the lane. So it seems it can be legal, but I second that it can be dangerous, especially near intersections.  Also, it is very dangerous and foolish to pass a truck on the right.

  • Driver

    That was actually from the NYS DMV drivers manual. 

  • Driver

    Disqus has been pretty awful lately with displaying line spacing.
    “You can also take this into consideration….”  are my words, not from the DMV manual.  

  • > Besides, whatever the exact ratio is, I don’t think it takes away the validity from my original post.

    You were making an argument that the ratio is alarming, yet we don’t have a well defined ratio to be alarmed about.

    Streetsblog made the original error in implying that the DMV pedestrian injury numbers are at all comparable to this study’s. Are the criteria and methodologies exactly the same, or even close? Who knows? The red flag for me is that we ratio we do know, fatalities, is vastly different. Automobiles kill over two orders of magnitude more pedestrians than bicycles do. We have confidence in that number since death is hard to exaggerate or obscure. So why do the injury counts carried out by completely different parties produce a dramatically different ratio from the hard fatality counts? The simplest explanation is that Hunter College researchers did not use the same standards to count injuries as the DMV.  As such, they can’t be meaningfully compared.

    And still, it’s just not productive to reach for ways to malign cyclists, pedestrians, or motorists *as a group*. I’m very much in favor of accountability for individual actions, a different thing altogether. Bring on the serious penalties for causing serious harm to other people! I’d love to cycle in that briar patch. But I suggest people lay off the tireless grasping for ways to condemn a group of people as one. Even people who think that 9 out of 10 cyclists are Actual Demons can have their lives saved by bicycle lanes that lead to more civilized cycling and driving. Let’s just save them.

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