New York City is adding bike lanes, and they will start to provide more of them every year until the city has the number they need to allegedly keep cyclists safe. This will start with 10 miles of protected lanes, and move toward that number of miles of lanes every year. The project will take years to complete because of the sheer size of the city, but it will tie in with the bike lanes that are already there and that provide current value for cyclists who commute to work, school, the store, and other city locations.
We applaud the city’s efforts to promote the safety of cyclists. Public safety should always be the number goal in city planning. At the same time, New York City cyclists have been seriously hurt in bike lanes before, including a woman on a motorized scooter who was run over by a garbage truck illegally operating in a bike lane. It’s important for city officials to keep both cyclist and public safety in mind during the planning and implementation of bike lanes.
Can More Lanes Mean More Danger?
Unfortunately, more lanes can mean more danger. People who are driving and changing lanes to get around slower traffic may see an empty space and head for it, not realizing that it is a lane for bicycles only. This could result in a collision between a cyclist and a car, which generally does not end well for the cyclist. Even a low-speed collision can cause broken bones, internal injuries, and serious damage to someone who is riding a bicycle. These cyclists may not be able to get out of the way of the vehicle in time, and the vehicle may not be able to stop in time once the driver realizes they are in the bicycle lane.
Is This a Safe Space for City Cyclists?
In many cases and many cities, bicycle lanes are safe spaces for cyclists. This provides people who ride bicycles with the opportunity to have a location where they can ride without worry of being struck by a vehicle. These lanes are clearly marked, and they provide protected areas for bicycles. But in a large city such has NYC, these protected lanes may not really provide the protection one would hope for. With that in mind, the lanes may not really be as safe of a space for cyclists as those cyclists would hope for. Being careful and always watching for cars will still be required, especially when the lanes are new and drivers may not be used to them.
Bicyclists and Pedestrians Face Dangers Every Day
Each and every day, bicyclists and pedestrians face dangers from vehicles. The most common dangers are collisions, and these can cause serious injuries. Broken bones and internal injuries are very common, as are cuts, bruises, brain injuries, and skull fractures. Even when cyclists wear helmets, the impact of a vehicle can still cause harm. While bike lanes in NYC may be helpful, more study may be needed to see if they really have a good chance of protecting cyclists and pedestrians from injury.
What City Officials and Planners Need to Keep in Mind
Bicycle lanes can be more dangerous for cyclists if current laws, signage, and road indications do not prioritize them while they are riding in their designated lanes. While planning this project, officials should consider the various ways bicyclists may be injured in the lanes and implement preventative measures. A safer New York involves planning ahead so that fewer injuries occur in the future.