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

1:52 PM EDT on August 9, 2012

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:

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