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NYPD: Bike Injuries Are Up 43 Percent During Coronavirus Crisis

2:58 PM EDT on March 19, 2020

Bike injuries are down but cyclists in Southern Brooklyn are still disproportionately getting hurt.
Photo: Hilda Cohen

If the corona doesn't get you, the car owner might.

Cyclist injuries were up 43 percent between March 9 and March 15, according to NYPD statistics, an increase that comes after Mayor de Blasio urged people to bike to work yet did not build any new protected infrastructure to handle the surge of new riders.

According to NYPD data, there were 80 bicycle injuries in the period from Hizzoner’s bike-to-work suggestion last Sunday through this Sunday — an increase of 24, or 42.9 percent, compared to the same week in 2019, when there were 56 bicycle injuries.

The shocking rise in cyclist injuries comes as the number of people on the road overall is decreasing because more and more New Yorkers are working from home (or newly unemployed) or staying put inside their homes. Indeed, the same NYPD stats show that the total number of all kinds of collisions has decreased 33.1 percent compared to the same time period last year.

Only cyclists are getting hurt more.

All injuries have gone down except bike injuries from March 9 to March 15. Photo: NYPD
All injuries have gone down except bike injuries from March 9 to March 15. Photo: NYPD

Other injuries are down across the board: Drivers are being injured 27.6 percent less and pedestrian injuries are down 17 percent.

So far in 2020, at the end of January, one cyclist was killed by a reckless truck driver, but the total number of injuries to bikers also increased by 22 percent compared with the same time period last year, according to the data.

The rash of crashes involving drivers and cyclists can be blamed on the usual suspects, the NYPD said: driver inattention and failure to yield. Close to 90 percent of crashes involve some form of driver error, the statistics show.

The plurality of injuries — 22 out of 80 — occurred in Southern Brooklyn, accounting for a 69 percent increase compared to the same time period last year in the NYPD’s Brooklyn South bureau. The numbers suggest that the city has not fully solved the problem of that area, where there is very little protected bike infrastructure. Last year, 10 of the 28 cyclists who died on New York City streets were killed by drivers in Southern Brooklyn. .

Injuries in the North Brooklyn bureau between March 9 and March 15 are up 77.8 percent — from nine to 16 — and a whopping 450 percent (from two injuries to 11) in the Bronx, compared to the same period last year.

Where 80 people have been injured on a bicycle from March 9 through March 15. Map: NYPD
Where 80 people have been injured on a bicycle from March 9 through March 15. Map: NYPD

Transportation Alternatives said the new data shows the need for "a more comprehensive network of protected bike lanes” — especially as more newbie cyclists hit the streets to commute to work or practice socially distant exercise.

“Bike ridership is only going to increase as the weather gets warmer," added Joe Cutrufo, the group's spokesman. "In order to give people an alternative that lets them practice effective social distancing, and to reduce injuries, we need to see solutions — and fast."

The city must step up to stop the dangerous increase that's now bucking the trend over the last few years, said Bike New York's Jon Orcutt.

"Total bike injuries have been going down in the last several years, so being up this much this early in the year is bad. Let’s get on top of this, City Government," said Orcutt.

Transportation Alternatives put out a list of demands on March 9; the Department of Transportation says it is still "reviewing" the proposal, even as cities around the world start beefing up their protected infrastructure because of the crisis.

Journalist Scootercaster reported that at least one cyclist was injured in Manhattan on March 17. The journalist posted video showing blood on the ground, and said that the unidentified biker was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, prompting the NYPD's CIS team to investigate. But a spokesman for the NYPD had no information on the crash, and said the investigation had been cancelled, indicating the cyclist was not in critical condition.

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