The Bike and Pedestrian Safety Stats the Daily News Won’t Cover

While cycling rates in the Central Business District nearly doubled in three years, the number of pedestrian injuries sustained in collisions with cyclists citywide declined, according to emergency data compiled by Hunter College profs which the Daily News never cites.

The bike-hate trifecta in today’s Daily News is really something to behold: a piece on cyclists topping the 25 mph speed in Central Park which required the labor of at least four reporters; a companion editorial, leading the opinion page, spewing invective at some of the people who have done the most to make the city streets safer for walking and biking; and a short editorial demanding answers about when NYC will get its 100 percent privately-funded bike-share system already.

It’s all pretty absurd and reminiscent of when Norman Steisel was feeding misinformation to the paper’s opinion writers, but the laziest and most irresponsible part of the package has to be the lead editorial, which conflates cyclists training in the park with the city’s expansion of on-street bike lanes:

Disregarding pedestrians, including children, they often bust the 25 mph vehicular speed limit, roar along paths where they are forbidden and, as a result, boost the patient count at the Mount Sinai Medical Center emergency room.

The NYPD must step up enforcement, and bike-loving Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan must come to grips with the fact that there is similar action in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, as well as virtually anywhere she has opened bike lanes, which is essentially everywhere.

Bikers speed on streets, blow red lights and ride on sidewalks. Some 500 New Yorkers are treated each year in hospitals after being hit by bicycles, according to a Hunter College study.

Of course, as Streetsblog reported soon after the release of that Hunter College data, the year-by-year, NYC-specific numbers — which were gathered by the authors but not included in their report — show that citywide pedestrian injuries sustained in collisions with cyclists have dropped at the same time that biking rates into the Manhattan CBD have skyrocketed. There’s just no way to conclude that bike lanes are putting anyone at risk without willfully ignoring and/or misconstruing the available information.

Speaking of ignorance, while the Daily News was putting together its big front-page scoop about cyclists on the Central Park loop, a Brooklyn judge was reprimanding prosecutors for letting a killer drunk driver off the hook. No coverage of that one in New York’s hometown paper. Nor anything about NYPD’s monthly compilations of crash data, which are making it easier to track the shocking rates of citywide vehicular violence.

So, apologies for once again running through the actual data on street redesigns and traffic injuries in NYC, which probably bores Streetsblog readers to tears at this point, but apparently the numbers haven’t sunk in at the Daily News:

  • On streets with bike lanes, crashes are 40 percent less deadly for pedestrians than on streets without bike lanes, according to DOT’s exhaustive 2009 pedestrian safety study.
  • Manhattan’s wide avenues are some of the most deadly streets in the city, but they are getting safer thanks to new bike and pedestrian infrastructure. Where DOT has installed protected bike lanes — on First and Second Avenues, Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Columbus Avenue, and Broadway — overall traffic injuries have dropped between 8.3 percent and 50 percent.
  • Sidewalk riding has plummeted on wide streets after the addition of protected bike lanes — witness the results on Prospect Park West.
  • It would be great if these safety benefits extended “essentially everywhere” as the Daily News fears they have, but there’s still a long way to go until the city devotes even one percent of street space to bike infrastructure.

If it’s not already abundantly clear that the Daily News has some other agenda besides creating a safer city, just have a look at the video that accompanied today’s expose, above, and compare it to footage of the Central Park West Drive captured by volunteers for Transportation Alternatives last year:

  • Anonymous

    “100 percent privately-funded”? Aren’t the plans being developed by people on the city’s payroll?

  • Anonymous

    Nice work on this post, Ben. Glad there is a strong voice to counter the inane arguments from NYC tabloid rags. 

  • @dporpentine:disqus Capital costs and operations will be paid for by the private sector. There’s no public money at risk because of this delay, so why is the Daily News so outraged?

  • Anonymous

    @dporpentine:disqus 
    Aren’t the plans being developed by people on the city’s payroll?

    Yah, but that’s like saying, lawsuits costs the city money (aside from the judgements) because of the lawyers who have to take the time to defend them.  The DoT isn’t being paid OT for their assistance and cooperation. 

  • Anonymous

    @BenFried:disqus @JarekAF:disqus Not siding with the Daily News–I’m sure even the Daily News doesn’t side with itself; this is a purely cynical bit of red meat tossing–but I don’t think that it’s helpful to wipe out the city’s involvement here. To me that gives too much ground to the people at places like the Daily News that exist to place the word “fail” next to the word “government.”

  • Eric McClure

    When Park Slope Neighbors measured motor-vehicle speeds in Prospect Park in February, we found that 99% of drivers were exceeding the speed limit, with an average speed of nearly 39 mph.  At the same time, only a handful of bikes topped the 25 mph speed limit.

    The Daily News didn’t cover that, of course.

  • Anonymous

    @EricMcClure:disqus And I’m sure the absolute numbers were much, much higher than 16 speeders in 35 minutes, yes? You probably had 16 speeders a minute . . . 

  • The Daily News did make one good point…

    … wait, never mind, they made 0 good points today.

  • Brooklyn Biker

    I love biking. I think cars are the primary threat to street safety for all users. I think the media under reports the threat motor vehicles pose and over reports on bikes as a threat to public safety. But  we as a community of bikers need to take responsibility for our actions. Just because drivers act like a-holes, doesn’t mean that it’s okay for us to do the same. Countless times I have seen cyclists, particularly the spandex crowd, blow through red lights on the Central Park loop when dozens of pedestrians are attempting to cross. It’s not safe, it’s not cool, it’s a straight up a-hole move. Yes, bikes pose far less of a safety risk than cars. Period. But bikes still do pose a threat, particularly when riders can’t be bothered to yield to the elderly and little kids. WE NEED TO YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS and this needs to become the central mantra of our movement. Full acceptance of this principle among cyclists is imperative for biking to truly enter the main stream. Every time we weave through pedestrians in a cross walk instead of stopping, every time we blow through a red and then have to stop short to prevent hitting someone on the far crosswalk, every time we don’t yield the right of way to a pedestrian we are giving ammunition to the anti-bike crowd.  

  • Ian Dutton

    What’s the bigger scandal: the NYPD’s failure to enforce traffic laws and their illegal refusal and incompetence in investigating horrific traffic crimes, or the NY tabloid press and their cover-up of the NYPD’s shocking failures by chasing down sometimes-inconsiderate cyclist behavior? The image to me is as if FDR’s response to Pearl Harbor had been to battle the scrouge of mosquitos.

  • Anonymous

    @2f10f165c84c2d70aeb5b8ffa1476a32:disqus  I don’t disagree. The problem is, no matter how hard we’ll try, we’ll never get 100% compliance. I see a lot fewer scofflaws than I used to, yet I still see people saying, “they NEVER stop at red lights” and “they ALWAYS ride on sidewalks.” These are, obviously, exaggerations by people who, for whatever reason, are foaming at the mouth over cyclists.

    We should always yield to pedestrians because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s going to change people’s minds. We’re never going to change the opinions of people who are too stubborn to accept cycling as a mode of transportation.

  • Ed I. Torial

    Two children in Central Park were struck by a taxi driver’s vehicle, which he was steering IN REVERSE.  No word from the editorial staff of the Daily News, which tells you everything you need to know about their morals.

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120809/columbus-circle/car-hits-two-children-central-park

  • Ed I. Torial

    Two children in Central Park were struck by a taxi driver’s vehicle, which he was steering IN REVERSE.  No word from the editorial staff of the Daily News, which tells you everything you need to know about their morals.

    http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20120809/columbus-circle/car-hits-two-children-central-park

  • Anonymous

    Why do bicyclists need to race in the park? Why not ride at a moderate pace so there’s no danger of anyone getting hurt?

  • Anonymous

    Can we reprint the Daily News opinion piece replacing the words “bike” and “bicycle” with “car” and “automobile” and then see if the fact checking holds up better?

  • Cabgabnyc

    Look, there are safe drivers of cars and there are speeders. The same goes
    for
    bicyclist. There is good and bad in all sectors of society! So, why
    compare. If you are safely riding your bicycle or automobile you should not be
    criticized. If not then you should be! There is room for both if all obey the rules!

  • Pamchenko

    usain bolt’s top speed was over 27 mph during his 100m gold medal run.  and he doesn’t wear a bell…that’s two tickets if he were to train in central park

  • What the Daily News seems to overlook in their own story is that most cyclists sampled were riding well within the speed limit. They even clocked one cyclist going a blazing 9 mph! And even the few who did exceed the speed limit only did so by about 12%. I wish we could say the same about cars in the park.

    Truth be told, there are only two or three places where most cyclists could even begin to approach 25mph and they’re all located in the less used northern section of the park. Not to defend those who speed, but posting the speed limit, adding a pedestrian walkway in the northern section, and keeping children from playing in the roadway would probably do more to prevent collisions than occasional crack-downs on cyclists.

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