“Bike Bedlam” Fact Check: NYC Bike-Ped Injuries Drop From Low to Lower
Editor’s note: Streetsblog has retracted this post. The information on bike-on-ped crashes is not accurate. Read the full correction for an explanation of how we acquired the erroneous data and how we determined it was incorrect.
One of the claims on Monday night’s "Bike Bedlam" segment that seemed off to me was reporter Tony Aiello’s assertion that "the city doesn’t keep a central database of bike versus pedestrian accidents." The first reason it seemed skewed is that the number of bike-on-ped crashes causing injury is minuscule compared to the violence visited on New Yorkers by auto traffic. The second reason is that the state, not the city, is the authoritative source for traffic injury data.
Getting up-to-date information about traffic crashes out of the state can indeed be maddeningly slow. CrashStat, the web site operated by Transportation Alternatives that
shows the pedestrian and cyclist injury history of NYC streets and intersections, doesn’t have
data more recent than 2005 for a reason. So on that score, street safety advocates would probably agree with Aiello 100 percent.
I asked the city DOT press office yesterday if they could furnish some numbers on the volume of bike-on-ped injuries in New York. They sent over a table of citywide data from the state DOT covering the last nine years. The table clearly shows a consistent drop in bike-on-ped injuries. It pretty much shreds the whole "Bike Bedlam" premise that pro-bike policies are putting pedestrians in danger.
The DOT press shop also said that they’d received no inquiries from Aiello about bike-ped crashes. So I emailed Aiello to ask who he’d turned to for crash data. He emailed back to say he’d been on a nice bike ride with TransAlt’s Caroline Samponaro today (for tonight’s cyclist perspective, I assume), and that he’d check his notes. I emailed again to make clear that I had some bike-ped crash information, and that city DOT said they’d never received an inquiry.
He emailed back:
The city DOT press office has no business talking to you – or to me, or to anyone, about inquiries made by other journalists.
I disagree with Tony. If you’re going to skew the facts and traffic in sensationalism, other reporters have every right to find out what sort of inquiries were made. Or not made.