With cyclist deaths and fatal hit-and-run crashes up sharply this year in New York City, advocates from Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets will hold a mass bike ride down Fifth Avenue from Central Park South to Washington Square Thursday evening, with well over a thousand participants demanding that Mayor de Blasio take immediate action on Vision Zero by investing to fix the most dangerous streets.
TransAlt began to mobilize a broad coalition of bike and street safety groups after 78-year-old Michael Schenkman was struck and killed by a driver in Bayside, Queens on August 24th, in what was the 16th cyclist fatality of 2016 -- the number now stands at 18.
“Three years ago, Mayor de Blasio promised to achieve Vision Zero by 2024 and double bicycling by 2020. We are holding this mass ride to demand that the Mayor honor these two promises,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “The Mayor must act now to fund and fast-track more protected bike lanes and safeguarded pedestrian crossings on the streets that the City has already identified as the most dangerous. We also demand an end to the victim-blaming and retaliatory bike-ticket blitzes we see every time a cyclist is killed, even though reckless driving is usually the cause of those deaths.”
Advocates note that while 15 people on bikes were killed in New York City in all of 2015, this year the city surpassed that number before Labor Day. Fatal hit-and-runs against cyclists and pedestrians have also already surpassed the number for all of 2015.
“With key traffic safety statistics moving in the wrong direction, Mayor de Blasio must recommit to Vision Zero by enforcing the 25mph speed limit, and holding drivers accountable when they flee the scene of a crash or violate New Yorkers’ right-of-way in crosswalks and bike lanes, and on our sidewalks, where far too many people have been killed and injured,” said Amy Cohen of Families for Safe Streets. “The Mayor must also make sure all crash investigations are open and available to the public, so families who have lost loved ones can pursue some measure of justice, and officials can target the most dangerous streets for safety improvements.”
Nearly half of this year’s cycling fatalities have taken place in areas that the City has already designated as "Priority" locations in the DOT’s Pedestrian Safety Action Plans. Participants in Thursday’s mass ride will demand safety fixes for all 446 Vision Zero priority corridors and intersections.
Co-hosts of the ride include Right of Way, Black Girls Do Bike, Kidical Mass BK, WE Bike NYC, Recycle-A-Bicycle, the Five Borough Bicycle Club, Bike New York, CHEKPEDS, Time's Up, InTandem, the NYC Mechanical Gardens Bike Coop, Get Women Cycling, the New York Bicycle Messenger Foundation, the Century Road Club Association, the New York Cycle Club and Bicycle Habitat.
The ride will be led by the most vulnerable users of the streets -- new cyclists, teens, older New Yorkers, and kids. 6-year-old Galit Gordon, who is coming from Brooklyn to join the ride, said, "We need safer streets so that no one gets run over by cars and trucks and so kids can ride their bikes to school.”
“I’m riding today because even one cyclist death is unacceptable,” said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “Our streets need to be safe for everybody. That’s why I’ve introduced and passed legislation increasing penalties for hit-and-run drivers, demanding Albany lift the cap on speed cameras near schools, and requiring the DOT to create a Safe Routes to School Plan for our children’s most dangerous streets. No one should have to fear for their life simply walking or biking down the street. Today we’re riding together to say that enough is enough.”
Also joining the ride is Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, who said, “While New York City has made impressive gains in reducing overall traffic fatalities, the need for improving public safety continues. The number of cyclist fatalities has far surpassed last year’s and, unfortunately, Brooklyn is home to a disproportionate number of those fatalities. The bravery and resilience of the families that have lost loved ones to crashes, and their willingness to turn their pain into purpose, inspires us to do more to continue the work to reach Vision Zero.”
"Cycling is a vital part of our City's sustainable future and we must ensure our transportation infrastructure supports our growing number of cyclists,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “No biker should have to fear for their life when traversing our City's streets. I thank Transportation Alternatives and all the advocates for leading the way to safer streets with this bike ride."
Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson said, “Bicycles provide New Yorkers of all ages with an economical, eco-friendly, and health-conscious alternative to our overburdened transit system. We can and must do more to make our streets safer for cyclists. I thank Transportation Alternatives for their leadership and look forward to their partnership in our ongoing efforts to improve the safety of our streets.”
Council Member Antonio Reynoso said, "While we have made progress toward Vision Zero in the first years of this administration, the rising number of cyclist fatalities shows that we still have a lot more to do. I recently called on DOT to implement a protected bike lane on Grand St. in my district, after cyclist Matthew von Ohlen was tragically killed there by a hit-and-run driver. I hope that we can work together to expand the city's bike network and increase safety so that memorial rides like this one will no longer be necessary."
"On the Upper West Side we have seen the power of street redesigns and protected bike lanes in reducing fatalities," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. "Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Trottenberg have made great strides – there is much more to be done. Today I am proud to join Transportation Alternatives in a mass bike ride to honor those we have lost and to further our momentum as we change policy, infrastructure, and behavior for the safety of all New Yorkers."
"The City must do more to ensure that the goals of Vision Zero are properly and speedily enacted in order to prevent future pedestrian and cyclist deaths," said City Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. "We stand with the families of those lost and will continue to fight for safer streets and pedestrian safety."
Council Member Carlos Menchaca said. “I hear the demands of TransAlt and other advocates and I can confidently say that, as an avid cyclist who commutes to and from work as often as I can, these are my demands, as well. I have been a supporter of the Mayor’s Vision Zero plan since its inception and will continue to work with families and advocates to ensure that the goals of that campaign are met. I support the expansion of protected and exclusive bike lanes, including the creation of a Fourth Avenue protected bike lane in Sunset Park, the safeguarding of priority pedestrian crossings, enforcement, and making drivers accountable when they violate the law. These are achievable goals; together we will make New York City a far more bike-friendly city for all.”
"Traffic safety remains a top priority of mine," said City Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). "The Vision Zero safety enhancements we have seen are a good start, but more needs to be done. I call upon the administration to double down and devote more resources to the implementation of Vision Zero programs. One traffic-related death is a death too many."
WHAT: Mass Bike Ride to Demand Safe Passage for Cyclists and Pedestrians
WHERE: Riders will gather at E. 59th St and Fifth Ave. and will finish at Washington Square Park
WHEN: Thursday, September 15, Riders meet at 6pm and depart at 6:30
WHO: Transportation Alternatives, Families For Safe Streets, Right of Way, Black Girls Do Bike, Kidical Mass BK, WE Bike NYC, Recycle-A-Bicycle, Five Borough Bicycle Club, Bike New York, CHEKPEDS, Time's Up, InTandem, the NYC Mechanical Gardens Bike Coop, Get Women Cycling, the New York Bicycle Messenger Foundation, the Century Road Club Association, the New York Cycle Club and Bicycle Habitat.
Mayor de Blasio,
Three years ago you promised to achieve Vision Zero by 2024 and double bicycling by 2020.
We are here today to demand that you honor these two promises. You can do so by acting swiftly to:
1. Fund and fast-track protected bike lanes and safeguarded pedestrian crossings for all of DOT’s 446 Vision Zero priority corridors and intersections
2. Expand the network of protected bicycle lanes to all neighborhoods
3. Stop the post-crash victim-blaming and retaliatory ticketing
4. Enforce the 25mph speed limit, hold hit-and-run drivers to account, and enforce our right-of-way in crosswalks, bike lanes and sidewalks;
5. Ensure that all crash investigations are open and available to the public