Statement: 10 People Killed While Riding Bikes in NYC to Date in 2019, Matching Total Killed in All of 2018

Statement of Transportation Alternatives Senior Director of Advocacy Thomas DeVito in the wake of two recent cyclist deaths in Brooklyn:
Joseph Cutrufo -
(646) 873-6027

"We heard today of the passing of Kenichi Nakagawa, a 22-year-old cyclist who was hit on Saturday in Crown Heights and has succumbed to his injuries. Yesterday, 16-year-old Yisroel Schwartz swerved to avoid being doored while bicycling in Borough Park and was hit by a driver and killed. Our thoughts are with the families of Kenichi and Yisroel.

At least 10 people have been struck and killed while riding bikes on the streets of New York City to date this year, equal to the number of bicyclists killed in all of 2018. 

Vision Zero is in a state of emergency and the mayor has failed to acknowledge it. Eight of the 10 people killed while biking in 2019 were killed in Brooklyn, on streets that have not been designed in line with the goal of eliminating traffic deaths. 

While the City’s approach to reducing fatalities has yielded real results over the past five years, it is abundantly clear that the scattershot, one-off approach to Vision Zero has reached a point of diminishing returns, and New Yorkers are dying as a result. We need a new, systemic approach to Vision Zero that makes safety a matter of course, not subject to the whims of parochial community board politics.

Every time a simple street redesign takes two years to implement -- like Amsterdam Avenue in Upper Manhattan -- it is a leadership failure. Every time a safety improvement is removed or indefinitely delayed -- like Dyckman Street or Queens Boulevard -- or is preemptively watered down -- like the recently announced Bay Ridge bike plan -- because of fears over blowback from a small group of drivers, it is a leadership failure. And New Yorkers pay for these failures with their lives.

We’re not going to accept the status quo any longer. To start, the City Council must pass the Vision Zero Street Design Standard (Council Intro 322) and the mayor must ensure that standard is met every time a street is redesigned. This means a complete network of protected bike lanes, “daylighted” corners at every intersection, ensuring more visibility and fewer vehicles obstructing pedestrian and bicyclist right of way, and a pilot program with more automated enforcement cameras to shield bike lanes from dangerous double parking, protect intersections from chronic blocking, and ensure that pedestrians who are using the crosswalk are not impeded upon by reckless turning vehicles."