Safe-Streets Advocates Demand That de Blasio ‘Focus on the Real Problems Killing New Yorkers’

The mayor should fix faulty streets and rein in reckless driving — not pursue useless helmet laws.

A balloon bike at the "die-in" in Washington Square Park pleads to stop the killing.
A balloon bike at the "die-in" in Washington Square Park pleads to stop the killing.

The street-safety advocates who held a die-in in Washington Square Park in July to dramatize a sharp spike in cycling fatalities have reassembled to chide Hizzoner for his recent bikelash.

Advocates from 17 street-safety organizations yesterday signed an open letter to Mayor de Blasio decrying his “recent and repeated suggestions that New York City might consider bike licensing and mandatory helmet requirements for adults.”

The letter went over well-worn ground — repeating arguments that helmet requirements depress cycling and imperil bike-share systems, that safety in numbers keeps cyclists and pedestrians safe, and that such laws are simply an opportunity for police to  target communities of color disproportionately, as they always do.

The advocates contrasted the mayor’s ill-considered remarks with his failure to implement the policies he trumpeted in July as part of his Green Wave plan to reduce cycling deaths:

“Even as the Mayor entertains suggestions that are widely rejected by injury prevention experts and have been shown by experience around the world to be counterproductive to growing bike usage, New York City bike riders still await action on key Green Wave commitments, including those for increased physical protection of bike lanes and stepped up enforcement of bike lane blocking and illegal truck routing.”

The street-safety voices asked de Blasio to move on from what they consider a “grave mistake” and instead focus on the true threat to safety: “faulty street design, reckless driving and a lack of systemic accountability for those drivers.”

  • quenchy

    Got a compromise
    Required helmets for all bikers and scooters in NYC if
    Drivers who break rules of the road or who kill pedestrians and others in NYC are not only heavily fined but (see below)
    a) Parking in a biking lane – Fine of US$500 immediately increasing by 2x for each subsequent action. NO EXCEPTIONS. No payment at point of action and drivers license is confiscated by police
    b) Driver kills pedestrian, bicyclist or other – always charged with vehicular manslaughter
    c) Driver hit and run on pedestrian, bicyclist or other – always charged with 2nd degree murder

  • this, but without the compromise.

  • Reader

    The Netherlands has all of these things – strict liability for motorists, steep fines for violations, etc. – and no helmet laws so I’m with you!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Pedestrians shouldn’t want bicyclists to wear helmets.

    Bicyclists without helmets have greater risk in collisions with pedestrians, and ride slower. With a (marginal) decrease in safety for themselves.

    “If I don’t have a helmet, you don’t have one” ought to be the attitude.

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  • OnlyWonderBread

    Innocent people have been shot and killed on our streets while doing simple things like walking out of McDonald’s or walking the dog. Does anyone really think that Mayor Butthole cares about bike riders dying?