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Yes, But Will It Save Bike Riders’ Lives?

Two cabbies chatting, forcing cyclists to re-enter traffic on Allen Street
by Yori Yanover

The last the city of New York invested seriously in bike lanes and in enforcing the bike lane rules (Thou shalt not double park on a bike lane) was during the Koch Administration. Back then they built a real, concrete divider between the bikers and the traffic rushing up Sixth Avenue. Kit lasted a couple of months, if memory serves right, and then protesting motorists shot down the idea. There’s only a remnant of that great notion near Herald Square, at Sixth and 33rd.

Now City officials have announced that they’re adding 200 miles of new bike lanes and paths over the next three years. The first new lanes will be in Chelsea, the Lower East Side, Flatbush and the South Bronx. Considering how many bike riders have been injured and killed on city streets in recent years. According to official stats, in the past ten years more than 200 cyclists have died in accidents and nearly 3,500 have been seriously injured. To were hit on the corner of Delancey and Essex just two weeks ago, according to Don West, President of the 7th Precinct Police Community Board.

The City says injuries have declined by 46 percent in the past decade, but the death rate has remained steady since 1996.

The new lanes will allow cyclists to ride on the streets in assigned lanes and on car free bike paths.

But, of course, it will come down to education and enforcement. Motorists should be taught that when they block a bike lane, to unload a passenger, to go in for a pizza, or to chat with a pal (see picture) – they may be sentencing a bike rider to death by traffic. And they should be punished accordingly.

Without enforcement, the City might as well paint those bike lanes in purple zigzags.


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