Action to protect cyclists needed

With the number of cyclists killed in New York City on the rise in 2019, it’s clear something must be done to prevent further tragedy.

Brooklyn’s streets are proving to be treacherous for cyclists. There have been 10 cyclist fatalities in 2019 — the same number the city saw in 2018, according to Vision Zero data — eight of which have occurred in Brooklyn, including three in a four-day span last week.

Activists have laid blame on city officials for the lack of dedicated bike lanes throughout much of Southern Brooklyn, where five of the 10 fatalities have occurred.

In addition to the 10 fatalities, Vision Zero data reveals that there have been 993 cyclist injuries across the five boroughs as of April 30.

This paper obtained video from the victim of a hit-and-run incident in Clinton Hill last week where a driver struck a cyclist and fled the scene. We published the video and sent the clip to the NYPD’s 88th Precinct, which reopened the investigation.

We urge victims of similar incidents to share their stories with their local newspapers and media outlets. Let us tell your stories so we can help spread the word and help prevent further tragedy. Every publicized incident will put pressure on local lawmakers to protect their cycling constituents.

The City Council is hoping to improve road safety with its “Vision Zero Streets Design Standard” bill, which would formalize a set of safety measures for the Department of Transportation to consider when renovating city streets. Proponents of the bill believe it would encourage construction of bike lanes and other traffic calming measures in car-dense neighborhoods.

The street in Clinton Hill where the biker was struck did not have a dedicated bike lane. The city had removed “sharrows,” shared lane markings which indicate that while there’s no dedicated bike lane on the street, drivers and bicyclists have to share the space. Sharrows aren’t perfect — they do not offer an explicit lane and keep cyclists at risk of being struck — but perhaps one may have prevented the cyclist from being struck in Clinton Hill.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson recently announced a May 30 deadline to vote on the measure, which is co-sponsored by 14 of the body’s 15 Brooklyn lawmakers. The only Kings County councilmember not sponsoring the bill is Kalman Yeger (D–Borough Park), who represents the location where the teen was killed on Wednesday.

Yeger should sponsor the bill, too. Doing so would show a united front that among the Kings County councilmembers; it would show constituents that Brooklyn will take action and not wait for the next tragedy to strike.

Bike lanes may not be the perfect solution, but they will help keep cyclists alive. If drivers can stay out of bike lanes, and cyclists can stay out of the road, then there shouldn’t be any fatalities. Accidents happen, but we need to do our part to prevent them.

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