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Wednesday’s Headlines: Twisted Statistics Edition

Cyclist deaths hit a 23-year high in 2023 — but if you ask the New York Times, that grim statistic comes with a big asterisk. Plus more news.

Photo: Josh Katz

Cyclist deaths hit a 23-year high in 2023 — but if you ask the New York Times and city Department of Transportation, that grim statistic comes with a big asterisk.

"Most of the 30 cyclists who died in 2023 were riding electric bikes," reads the second sentence of an otherwise comprehensive and nuanced piece by Times data reporter Keith Collins, "Why Bicycle Deaths in New York City Are at a 23-Year High."

After noting that seven of the dead e-bike riders ("nearly a third") died "without any apparent interference from a vehicle of pedestrian," Collins finally gets to the meat of the problem: 11 e-bike riders and four "traditional" bike riders died "in collisions with trucks."

"Historically, most people who have died riding bicycles in New York City were killed in collisions with cars and trucks on streets that did not have bike lanes, and that was the case last year as well," he writes. E-bike riders killed just two pedestrians last year, according to city stats — compared to 100 killed by drivers.

The top-line emphasis on e-bikes — which DOT reps somehow don't attribute to the vehicles' increased usage — mimics an argument made last year by Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, who in October claimed "e-bikes" were "driving" the historic increase in cyclist deaths.

In 2018, amid a similarly stark increase in bike deaths, then-Mayor Bill de Blasio responded with his "Green Wave" plan to dramatically expand protected bike infrastructure. Joshi and her boss Mayor Adams responded to last year's carnage with the lowest output of new bike lanes in recent memory.

In other news:

  • Our series “Ghost Tags” by reporter Jesse Coburn has been named a finalist for the prestigious 2024 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, an honor handed out by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Coburn is one of six finalists, a group that includes a New York Times series on child labor and ProPublica’s coverage of gifts to Supreme Court justices. Coburn’s series also won a Polk Award.
  • Hochul and Adams announced their umpteenth effort to quell subway crime after Penn Station subway shove. (Gothamist, NBC New York)
  • The perils of free on-street parking include getting your wheel stolen. (Daily News)
  • ICYMI: MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan dished out some smart facts in response to the flurry of misinformation propagated ruing the agency's latests congestion pricing hearings:
  • Former Queens resident faces up to four years in prison for 2022 crash that killed her cousin and injured her aunt. (QNS, Daily News)
  • Read the latest anti-congestion pricing screed from the transit workers who hate transit. (TWU Local 100)
  • Meanwhile, the anti-environment, anti-transit NJ governor is a hero to car-obsessed Long Islanders. (Newsday)
  • Vigilante killer sentenced to 14 years in prison for killing cyclist. (Daily News)

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