Summer 2002, p.19

T.A. Seeks Safer Cabs

With encouragement from T.A., this Spring the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission rolled out 44 minivan taxicabs that feature sliding passenger doors and rear lights that illuminate when the passenger door slides open. These sliding passenger doors are a welcome sight for crash-wary cyclists; "dooring" crashes are the most common cause of cycling injuries in NYC.

Since the vast majority of taxicabs (approximately 12,000 vehicles) are still sedans with traditional doors that swing open, though, T.A. urges the Taxi and Limousine Commission to adopt a package of safety improvements, including a passenger education campaign aimed at reducing the number of "dooring" crashes.

T.A. Cab Safety Recommendations

  • A prominent message on the passenger information sticker or a separate decal advising passengers to look for cyclists before opening the door.
  • A recorded message by Lance Armstrong urging passengers to "Please exit on the curb side and watch for cyclists before opening the door."
  • An interior light prompting passengers to exit curbside.
  • A recorded message that reminds passengers at the beginning of their rides that: "The speed limit in New York City is 30mph. Remind your driver you tip for safety."
  • A prominent exterior light that illuminates when the cab exceeds 30 mph.

The "Caution: Passenger Exiting" lights on the back of the new minivan taxis show that the Taxi Commission is thinking about cycling safety. Unfortunately, the lights do not prevent crashes effectively. Cyclists can avoid slow opening doors, but they cannot respond fast enough to avoid the quick opening doors, something for which the "Exiting" lights do not give adequate warning. Still, T.A. applauds TLC's continued effort to make cyclists safer.

Write to TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus to urge the TLC to use a prominent graphic message to educate passengers to look for cyclists before opening the door.

Write to:
Matthew Daus
Commissioner, TLC
40 Rector Street, 5th Floor
NYC 10006

Above: The sticker that T.A. would like TLC to put in the back of cabs.
Left: TLC's new caution lights warn cyclists when passengers exit.

Read the latest news on this subject.

Ace Advocate Ellen Cavanagh Launches New Career

T.A.'s Campaign Coordinator Ellen Cavanagh is leaving the lime light of public interest work to pursue the wonkish delights of transportation planning at Urbitran. Ellen started her T.A. career in 1995 as a green-haired student volunteer. By '98 Ellen was coordinating the Century Ride. Impressed, T.A. hired Ellen her as the project manager of The Bronx Safe Routes to School. There, Ellen developed new computerized mapping, crash data collection, community outreach and consensus building methods. National groups took note. In 2001, Ellen returned from a cross-country bike tour to become Campaign Coordinator. In that senior post, she became familiar to T.A.'s volunteer advocates, civic groups and government officials across the city. Her colleagues will especially miss her good humor and wit. Good luck Ellen!