Our Town Op-Ed: Kallos on Bike Safety Vests by Ben Kallos
Walking, driving or biking in the neighborhood, you may have noticed an increase in the number of safety vests worn by delivery bikers. This is in large part a result of my BikeSafe program, designed to empower residents through partnership to play a role in making their own neighborhood safer.
The steps of the BikeSafe program are as follows:
1. Educational Forum: We delivered free Safety Vests, bells and lights for the 80 stores that RSVPed and attended.
2. More Safety Vests: If you see or receive a bike delivery from a person with NO safety vest displaying business name and ID number, report it to the business, 311 and my office.
3. Report Unsafe Biking: If you see wrong way or unsafe biking, remember the business name and identification number from the safety vest then report it to the store, 311 and my office. Tell the store that you can wait longer for deliveries so bikes can be slower and safer for everyone.
4. Enforcement: When you call 311, DOT and NYPD will be notified and will take the appropriate steps to resolve the issue.
We are currently in the stage of gathering information. If you see no safety vests as a delivery cyclist exits a restaurant or difficult to read information, please report the matter to myself, the restaurant and 311. It is crucial that you tell the business that you would prefer to wait longer for your food to ensure our streets remain safe. With the power of the dollar, residents are best equipped to stop unsafe commercial cycling. Ultimately, greater enforcement tools will be used against repeat offenders to curb unsafe behavior.
The goal is not to single out delivery bikers, but to focus on changing establishments—which so far, have been highly cooperative. Our goal as a community is to strengthen relations between residents and the cyclists who work long hours in food delivery. It is a testament to the success of the program that restaurants have increased compliance with the use of safety vests dramatically. That is a trend I hope will continue, as it protects everyone by incentivizing safer behavior and allowing residents to report concerns.
We have also had many community forums on bike safety, including a forum on bike lanes, a commercial bike safety forum and a bike enforcement forum. I hope people will continue to participate. While enforcement against unsafe driving and biking is critical, education and appropriate infrastructure are also key. We as a community must partner to prioritize all of our safe streets tools.
The program relies on you to be successful. If you see unsafe commercial cycling, please call 311 and my office at 212-860-1950. To learn more, please visit BenKallos.com/BikeSafe
Ben Kallos represents the Upper East Side on the City Council