Bicycle Blueprint-Transportation Alternatives Report

Source: Document: Bicycle Blueprint-Transportation Alternatives Report – (PDF)

Source Report:

Pereceptions and Reality

Bobby Mitchell – Oak Park Bicycle Club

In discussing bicycling accidents, it’s important to separate perception from reality. For many non-cyclists, the perception is that cyclists take their lives into their hands on the streets — that in some sense they are “asking for it” by riding recklessly or by venturing onto the streets in the first place. In reality, most cyclists are extremely alert when riding on the city streets, and cycling accidents are much less common than those involving pedestrians or motor vehicles (although travel by foot and motor vehicle in New York also far exceeds that by bike). [1] This is not to say that cyclists don’t face danger every day. However, much of the risk of bicycling in New York City could be mitigated with public education and more care on the part of pedestrians and motorists, abetted by enforcement and other policies to reduce the amount and aggressiveness of motor vehicle use.

Any cyclist knows that the main traffic risks come from three sources: reckless, belligerent or blindsided motorists; swinging car doors; and jaywalking pedestrians. Cyclists must somehow be alert to these dangers while simultaneously keeping a close eye on the pavement for potholes, metal plates and other ground-level hazards.

1. In New York City in 1990, motor vehicles were involved in 187,503 accidents, pedestrians in 15,460 accidents, and bicycles in 3,706 accidents. These figures were calculated by combining the number of motor vehicle-motor vehicle accidents, motor Bicycle Blueprint – Bicycle Accidents: Perceptions and Reality 7/23/12 9:15 AM Page 2 of 2 vehicle-pedestrian accidents, motor vehicle-bike accidents, and pedestrian-bike accidents, as compiled by the NYPD. See Table 17.