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Bicycle Safety

#FIXCANAL: Cyclist Injured By Truck Driver On Chaotic Canal Street

Friday’s crash, as posted by the Facebook account, NYdeTour. Photo: NYdeTour.

A cyclist was nearly killed on dangerous Canal Streets Chinatown on Friday — hours before activists were set to rally to demand changes to one of the most hideous stretches of roadway in Manhattan.

A spokesperson for the FDNY told Streetsblog that the crash occurred at about 11:35 a.m. near Mott Street. The spokesperson said that cyclist refused medical attention and was able to leave the scene, but a picture posted by a local travel site (see below) was no comfort; it shows a mangled bicycle under the wheels of a menacing dump truck on the eastbound side of Canal Street.

facebook canal crash

The crash occurred just hours before activists with Transportation Alternatives and the Street Vendor Project held a demonstration to demand traffic calming and safety measures for Canal Street, a roadway that activists call Manhattan's "Boulevard of Death." According to Transportation Alternatives, 13 people have been killed in traffic crashes on Canal Street in the last decade, and 39 cyclists and 89 pedestrians were seriously injured on the roadway in the last five years.

In addition to busy pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks, Canal Street is a vital link for users of the road, whether they are drivers using the roadway to get to the Holland Tunnel or cyclists traveling between the Manhattan Bridge and the Hudson River Greenway, the busiest bike path in North America.

The street is almost entirely set aside for the movement and storage of vehicles, with two wide travel lanes and one car storage lane on each side of the street. Canal's design, which only encourages the use of cars and trucks on the road, makes it too dangerous to use as a reliable connection for cyclists — yet the city's Green Wave plan doesn't appear to link the two routes with a protected bike lane in the vision for a protected bike lane network by 2030.

This latest injury on Canal continues a year where Vision Zero appears to be backsliding, with traffic deaths up for the most vulnerable road users this year compared to 2018. According to the most recently released DOT data, there have been 130 total traffic fatalities through Aug. 8 (67 pedestrians, 18 cyclists, 15 motorcyclists, and 30 motor vehicle occupants) compared to 108 fatalities (58 pedestrians, eight cyclists, 21 motorcyclists, and 21 motor vehicle occupants) over the same period last year.

Transportation Alternatives is calling for car-reduction strategies.

"Unrelenting traffic endangers pedestrians and cyclists," the group said in a statement. "Drivers disobey traffic cues, while ignoring pedestrian crossing guards. New Yorkers are faced with a street that puts people's safety last."

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