New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Upper East Side Patch Bike Safety Improves On UES Amid Deadly Year For City, Pols Say by Brendan Krisel

Bike Safety Improves On UES Amid Deadly Year For City, Pols Say

Traffic & Transit

Bike Safety Improves On UES Amid Deadly Year For City, Pols Say

The number of cyclist deaths in New York City rose sharply in 2019, but safety improvements on the Upper East Side are working.

By Brendan Krisel, Patch Staff

Jan 3, 2020 3:32 pm ET

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Bike safety on the Upper East Side has improved in recent years due to new bike lanes and education programs.

Bike safety on the Upper East Side has improved in recent years due to new bike lanes and education programs. (David Allen/Patch)

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — Bike safety measures taken on the Upper East Side in recent years have reduced the number of cyclists hurt and killed in collisions in the neighborhood despite an uptick in cyclist deaths in 2019, local elected officials announced this week.

Additional protected bike lanes, increased enforcement against cyclists violating traffic rules and new bike safety education programs have shows success in keeping both cyclists and pedestrians safe in the neighborhood, City Councilmembers Ben Kallos and Keith Powers said in a joint statement.

"Our first priority is to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe from cars, and we've made great strides doing so on the Upper East Side," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Particularly older residents are also afraid of getting hurt in a collision with bikes that disobey the rules every day. Whether it is 'near misses' from a failure to yield to pedestrians, or reports of cyclists who run red lights, go the wrong way, or ride on sidewalks, everyone must know the rules of the road in order to share it safely.

Since the launch of a bike safety program in 2014, collisions involving cyclists in Powers and Kallos' districts have been reduced from 380 to 292 in 2019. The number of collisions hit a low in 2017 with 291, then jumped back up to 319 in 2018 before last year's reduction.

Between 2012 and 2019 there was just one cyclist killed between East 26th and 96th streets on Manhattan's east side, according to city collision data broken down by zip code. During the span of seven years, 1,626 cyclists were injured in collisions with cars. Daniel Cammerman, a 50-year-old pediatrician affiliated with Mount Sinai on the Upper East Side, was hit and killed by a school bus in Central Park last month. It's unclear whether the data counts this collision, as it happened within the confines of the park.

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Powers and Kallos attribute the positive trend in collision numbers to a number of different programs.

Safety improvements include:

  • Expanding protected bike lanes on north-south corridors such as First and Second avenues as well as installing paired crosstown lanes on streets such as 90th and 91st streets, 70th and 71st streets and 77th and 78th streets;
  • Closing the Second Avenue bike lane gap near the mouth of the Queensboro Bridge in 2019;
  • Increased enforcement against cyclists committing wrong-way and moving violations in the 17th and 19th NYPD precincts;
  • Working with the precincts to ensure police do not block the neighborhood's bike lanes and monitor the lanes to make sure they aren't illegally unobstructed.
  • Safety equipment giveaways such as free vests and lights for delivery workers and helmets for young riders;

Safe streets advocacy groups such as StreetsPAC and Transportation Alternatives were consulted when lawmakers designed the bike safety plan. Partners such as Bike New York, Citibike and the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association have helped the lawmakers put the programs into action.

"Amidst a challenging year for cycling across New York City, with 29 New Yorkers killed, Transportation Alternatives is inspired by the ongoing work of Council Members Kallos and Powers to bring safer streets to the Upper East Side," Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement.

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