Report: Pedestrian Injuries Caused by Cyclists Declining in NYC

Contrary to the would-be bikelash revivalists among the city press corps, a new study finds that injuries to pedestrians hit by cyclists are on the decline in NYC.

Released this week, the study was authored by Peter Tuckel and William Milczarski of Hunter College, along with NYU’s Richard Maisel. Reporting for CityLab, Sarah Goodyear writes that researchers examined hospital records in New York City and New York State between 2004 and 2011, in addition to California records from 2005 to 2011.

The study adds more recent information to figures Tuckel and Milczarski shared with Streetsblog in 2011, and reflects the same trends. As NYC added bike infrastructure and more cyclists took to the streets, the report says, the rate of injuries to pedestrians caused by cyclists dropped. Writes Goodyear:

In both New York City and New York State, which the researchers considered separately, the current decline began after several years of a steady upward trend. Between 2004 and 2008, the rate of cyclist-caused pedestrian injuries in New York State went from 3.29 per 100,000-person population to 5.45, then dropped to 3.78 by 2011. In New York City, the rate climbed from 4.26 in 2004 to 7.54 in 2008, but then fell again, to 6.06 by 2011.

As the paper states, the sheer number of cyclists in New York City soared during the years in question: The number of people biking into lower Manhattan, for instance, doubled between 2007 and 2011, according to the New York City Department of Transportation.

Overall, Goodyear writes, cyclists injured 7,904 pedestrians in New York State, NYC included, between 2004 and 2011. Ninety-two percent of victims were treated as outpatients.

For the sake of comparison, New York State motorists injured and killed approximately 22,000 pedestrians and cyclists in 2012 alone. City cyclists have killed three pedestrians since 2009, with two fatal crashes occurring in the last two months. Drivers killed 178 pedestrians and cyclists in NYC in 2013, according to NYPD.

The report attributes the drop in injuries to pedestrians becoming more accustomed to cyclists on the streets, safety education campaigns, and a higher number of kids being driven to school and fewer playing outside, though that stat is likely not as relevant in NYC.

“The other, more compelling explanation advanced by the researchers is that improvements in bike infrastructure have led to streets that are safer for all users,” writes Goodyear. “They cite NYC DOT reports that show, for instance, a decline of 58 percent in injuries to all users on Ninth Avenue, where a protected bike lane was part of a significant street redesign.” The city doubled the size of its bike network between 2007 and 2010.

  • com63

    When Citibike launched, I noticed a dramatic drop in pedestrians jaywalking in front of bicycles. You used to have to dodge jaywalking pedestrians all the time if you approached a crowded intersection without being around cars also passing through the intersection. Now, many (not all) pedestrians below 59th street know to look for and yield to cyclists.

  • walks bikes drives

    Well, I’m above 59 and the majority of my riding is as well. I have yet to see the same phenomenon.

  • red_greenlight1

    Haha, if only this was true.

  • com63

    I swear it is true, at least in my experience. Going up Lafayette St. past Astor place used to be death defying, now it is manageable because the pedestrians know to look for objects besides cars.

  • SheRidesABike

    I used to ride up 1st Ave about once a week in the morning, over the last three years. At first, it was pretty frustrating, between the drivers who couldn’t manage to yield in the mixing zones and the pedestrians not looking before stepping into the lane. While weekend nights still suck for the latter, the commute hours seemed to mellow considerably over that time. Fewer drivers not yielding and fewer pedestrians stepping into the street willy-nilly. I didn’t notice that it was connected with the launch of CitiBike, as the improvements started before then, but it has gotten better, and that is probably part of it.

    That said, there’s plenty of frustration still to be had. And I find the lower section of the Hudson River Greenway unrideable even at really, really slow speeds unless it’s during off-hours, due to New Yorker’s seeming inability to share public space with a modicum of common sense (let alone courtesy). Actually, that particular problem is probably just because the path is overused and we really need a separate dedicated protected bike path along the river that clearly and permanently separates pedestrians from cyclists — or some other design solution that effectively does the same.

  • Eddie

    I nearly hit a pedestrian yesterday afternoon in the 1st Avenue bike lane at 24th St. She was texting and stepped off the sidewalk directly into my path. I barely had time to swerve, but managed to avoid hitting her by inches.

    Note to self: 15 mph (which was my speed at the time) is much too fast to be riding in a protected bike lane.

  • Cold Shoaler

    Re: the Hudson River Greenway. Any theory on why people insist on walking/jogging in the bike lane with their backs towards traffic? I understand why people walk in the bike lanes on the Avenues – it’s irritating/hazardous, but I see why people overflow from the crowded sidewalks – but I don’t understand why people don’t just use the adjacent pedestrian-only space by the river. I try to save the expletives for dangerous motorists, but the greenway rudeness makes me nuts.

  • walks bikes drives

    I don’t think 15mph is too fast. I do it all the time, usually faster. My attention on a bike lane is on two things – the imperfections/debris in the road and the pedestrians on the sidewalk. I look for any indication they are about to step off. I almost always, in a protected bike lane, have a finger on my Airzound. One little tiny bleep from that gets them to look up. If not, that means I am far enough away to take evasive action, whether swerve or brake.

  • walks bikes drives

    I have said before, in a weekend ride from the Intrepid to Chambers, mid day, I usually count about 100, give or take, pedestrians on the bike path in that 4.5 mile or so stretch of separated path. Not including people crossing. I personally think joggers think it is better because they don’t have to move around, or worse slow down for, people walking or looking out over the river. They seem completely oblivious to the safety issue they are causing. But NYPD and Parks PEP focus on cyclists who break rules that put no one in danger, but don’t do anything about the actual causes of danger.

  • walks bikes drives

    But for the vast majority of the lower bikeway, for about 4.5 miles, it is clearly and permanently separated. It is just the separation is only enforced when a cyclist rides in the pedestrian zone, never a pedestrian in the cyclist zone.

  • JudenChino

    I creamed a ped once while going around 15. I was looking at the imperfections/debris in the road and didn’t see her as she crossed the double yellow (I was on 14th street, east of 1st ave, heading east and she was crossing mid-block, heading south). By the time I saw her (I wasn’t hugging the yellow either, I was in the middle of the left lane) she was on a perfect trajectory towards where I was heading. I screamed watch out and jammed on brakes, hit her while sliding and rolled over her (and spilled all her groceries).

    But yah. That sucked. Of course, she was, jaywalking, at night, wearing dark clothes and crossing the double yellow without actually looking to see if there was any on-coming traffic (me). Because when I’m riding w/traffic in the street, I’m not naturally looking for peds to step out from the “on-coming traffic lane.” I expect peds to jump out from parked cars — but from the on-coming traffic lane at night — I see lights heading my way.

    15mph shouldn’t be too fast for the protected bike lane on first, but, I think, realistically, you have to be super vigilant to go that fast. I’d say 10-14 mph until you pass the hospital at 30th. .

  • JudenChino

    8 years we’ve had the detour around BPC. 8 freaking years the greenway forces you to go around the pier and share the narrow space with peds/joggers/strollers and the occasional music concert, summer movie or even, a freaking auto show. #1 City for Biking!

  • Mike

    I’ve seen a jogger take out a cyclist along there. It’s crazy that joggers are in the way because they don’t want to be in a place where pedestrians are in the way. I’ve often thought of chalking messages in the pavement along there reading something like “Only assholes jog in the bike lane” to see if it’s possible to shame them into moving into the pedestrian path that’s maybe fifteen feet closer to the river.

  • walks bikes drives

    The pedestrian path also has a much nicer view than the bike path.

  • Mike

    Totally depends on who is cycling in front of you.

  • SheRidesABike

    Exactly. That is part of why I don’t really enjoy riding it.

  • SheRidesABike

    I know! I used to run a lot (in CP, not on the greenway) and I always pass these people wondering why they don’t prefer the river view.

  • JK

    HRPT needs to make a much bigger effort to get runners onto the ped only areas by the river, and off the bike path. That means prominent signs and pavement markings, and talking to the various running clubs and classes. Also, HRPT needs to get serious about creating convenient, unobstructed connections for runners/peds along Chelsea Piers, the Pier at 17th Street and Pier 40 (Houston St. ) It is BS to expect runners to run on a sidewalk full of hand-trucks, boxes, opening doors and what not. All and all, HRPT does not put safety first or Chelsea Piers would not be allowed to have a 40-50 ft right of way for trucks and cyclists and peds crammed into 12-14 feet. It will probably take suing them into making changes because there is zero advocacy to do anything about the everday mayhem on the path.

  • walks bikes drives

    Seems more like just everyday runners than club members, but I could be wrong.

  • Cold Shoaler

    “I’ve seen a jogger take out a cyclist along there.” As have I; twice. I’ve almost been taken out myself by a jogger doing a spontaneous U-turn, wearing headphones, not even checking over their shoulder. Maybe a burma shave sequence of signage? I’ll be thinking of one that targets ridiculously-bright, poorly-aligned front lights as sunset happens earlier. “Only assholes use 10,000 lumen lamps pointed up on this bike path”, but I digress.

  • Tyson White

    After citibike launch, I noticed that motorist began respecting cyclists more. Giving more room and not hustling to pass me. I hope the program expands to more neighborhoods soon.

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