Pause for a Moment of Cyclists

Metro NY | March 13, 2011

By Emily Anne Epstein

People place flowers on the ghost bike of 74-year-old East Village resident Fuen Bai, who was hit and killed by a school bus after riding home from church.

Even though the city has been welcoming bikers with ever-increasing lanes, New York is still a dangerous place to ride, cyclists said yesterday.

Dozens of bikers participated in the sixth annual Memorial Ride and Walk for Bicyclists and Pedestrians Killed in Traffic hosted by the New York City Street Memorial Project, which places white "ghost bikes" on corners where cyclists died.

"The ride encourages people to work to keep each other safe," said Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives. "People are biking more than they ever have in New York City."
From 2009 to 2010, the number of commuter cyclists grew by 13 percent. Last year, 18 cyclists were killed in traffic incidents.

"As the MTA raises fares and cuts customer service, more people are going to ride," said Peter Lang of Bike and Roll, a bike tour company. "We can respect the laws if we can be respected too."

Residents of Park Slope filed a lawsuit last week to protest a Prospect Park West bike lane, creating controversy and causing others to speak up.

"Bike lanes, in general, are common sense -- they could protect everyone: cyclists, pedestrians and drivers," said Nancy Gruskin, whose husband was killed in an incident with a delivery rider. "It has to go in tandem with following the law."

Later this month, Gruskin, in conjunction with Bike New York, will launch the "Pedal Pledge," a grassroots initiative that asks businesses to educate delivery bikers in respectful riding.

"We need a responsible bike culture," said Manhattan resident Jack Brown, 64, of the Coalition against Rogue Riding. "There have been marginal improvements, but there's a considerable way to go."

Follow Emily Anne Epstein on Twitter at @EmilyatMetro.