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Bicycle Safety

Cyclists Rally at City Hall

10:37 AM EDT on June 29, 2006

Call on Mayor Bloomberg to "take control" of city streets.

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Almost exactly one year ago, New York City cyclists rallied on the steps of City Hall, mourning the deaths of four of their own and demanding that Mayor Bloomberg take action to make the city's streets safer for bike commuting.

This morning, in what is almost becoming a sad early-summer ritual, one hundred cyclists, gathered on the steps of City Hall after the deaths of three cyclists in just the last three weeks. Led by Transportation Alternatives, the group is demanding that Mayor Bloomberg follow the example of other big city mayors by developing a plan to modernize New York City's bicycle commuting infrastructure.

Calling directly on Mayor Bloomberg, Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives said, "You took control of the city budget. You took control of the city's schools. Today, our streets our out of control. We need you to take control of our streets."

In the past three weeks there have been four serious bike crashes in New York City, three of them resulting in the deaths of cyclists Donna Goodson, Dr. Carl Nacht, and Derek Lake.

On Monday, June 5, Goodson was killed by a truck on Rockaway Park Bridge in Brooklyn. On Monday, June 19, a taxicab driver opened his door and knocked a cyclist into the path of a bus on 10th Avenue in Manhattan. On Thursday, June 22 an NYPD tow truck driver turning onto the Hudson River Greenway and slammed into Dr. Nacht. He died a few days later. On Monday, June 26, Lake slipped on a steel construction plate on Houston Street and fell beneath the wheels of a tractor trailer.

Transportation Alternatives bike program director Noah Budnick, who himself suffered a nearly-fatal crash just two years ago, said, "These cyclists didn't ride because they were training for the Olympics. They didn't ride to protest cars. They rode bikes because it makes sense."

White and Budnick both noted that the mayors of other world class cities are putting forward comprehensive plans to make their streets safer for cyclists. In London, Budnick said, Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced a £20 million investment in bike infrastructure saying, "Bicycling is the fastest, cheapest most environmentally healthy way to get around London." In Chicago, Budnick said, Mayor Richard Daley has also pledged millions of dollars of investment in bicycle infrastructure saying that his "goal is to promote environmentally-friendly lifestyles and make Chicago the most bike-friendly city in the United States."

New York City's bicycle master plan, in the meantime, hasn't been updated in ten years. The ten-year-old plan itself is barely complete. It doesn't set any specific targets and doesn't establish any design standards.

"A six inch-wide stripe on the street doesn't make the street safe for cyclists," Budnick said.

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