In 2014, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio created Vision Zero, a citywide initiative designed to reduce traffic-related deaths by stepping up law enforcement and improving the safety of the streets. Among other measures, Vision Zero attempted to make the city streets safer for bicycle traffic and to create 80 miles of protected bike lanes (PBLs). Bicycling became a viable transportation alternative when COVID-19 hit New York City this year. Unfortunately, the marked increase in bicycle traffic has come with an upswing in accidents.
This September was the deadliest month for New York City cyclists as seven people lost their lives in bicycle accidents — three in the Bronx, three in Brooklyn and one in Queens. In some collisions, the bikers were hit by cars or city buses. Two of the bikers were killed by drivers who fled the scene. Even before the pandemic hit, bicycle fatalities were on the rise. Last year, 29 cyclists died in New York City streets, which was the highest number in the last 20 years.
With a bicycle weighing about 20 pounds and a car up to 5,000 pounds, it is no wonder that the biker will suffer the worst injuries in a collision with a motor vehicle. Many accidents occur due to drivers' failure to exercise sufficient caution in sharing the roads with bicyclists. Motorists in New York City are expected to:
- Avoid blasting their horn at a bicyclist
- Stay at least three feet away from a bicycle
- Yield to a bicycle as they would to any other vehicle
- Avoid opening a driver's side car door without first looking for a bicyclist
New York law requires a motorist to stay at the scene of a bicycle or pedestrian accident. Leaving the scene of an accident where there is an injury is a criminal offense carrying a jail term of up to seven years, in addition to fines.
An injured bicyclist can also seek compensation for medical bills and other damages suffered in an accident, initially from the motorist's no-fault insurance and then in a lawsuit if the injuries are serious. Even if the bicyclist is partly negligent in causing the accident, some amount of compensation is possible.
If you have suffered an injury or a loved one has been killed in a New York bicycle accident, Orak & Associates, PC can provide immediate help. Call our Pearl River, New York office at 917-216-8819 or contact us online.