A small tentative step in the right direction—a little counter-vortex against the general downward spiral of global civilization towards ecological hell, permanent war and petrochemical totalitarianism. From amNewYork, Sept. 13:
City puts forth ambitious bike plan
After a series of high-profile bicycle rider deaths this summer, the city Tuesday unveiled its most ambitious plan ever to improve cyclist safety and access across the five boroughs.
The plan calls for 200 additional miles of bike paths in the city and greater enforcement of fines for drivers blocking cyclist lanes.
“Virtually all bicycle deaths are preventable,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden. “We call them accidents, but accidents don’t just happen, they are a result of specific conditions.”
So far, 11 riders have been killed this year, including a doctor who was riding in a bike lane on the West Side Highway and a young filmmaker on Houston Street.
Bike accidents took the lives of 225 people in the city between 1996 and 2005, an average of almost 25 cyclists each year, according to a multiagency report released yesterday. In this context, the recent bike deaths are hardly an anomaly, but simply a reflection of the dangers of cycling in the nation’s largest city.
And that, officials said Tuesday, is just not acceptable. To address the problem, four city agencies — health, parks, transportation and the NYPD — will work together to make urban bike riding less like an extreme sport and more like any other form of commuting.
In their report, the agencies found that in the 10 years studied, only one of the 225 bike rider deaths occurred while the cyclist was in a designated bike lane.
Such findings make a strong case for the 200 additional bike lanes, which will be added in the next three years. While some of these lanes will be nothing more than a painted strip of asphalt near the curb, Frieden said new street signs will remind drivers to share the road.
“Automobile drivers need to recognize that bikes have just as much right to be on the road, and that they should be treated like other cars,” he said.
NYPD Chief of Transportation Michael Scagnelli promised more enforcement of laws against blocking the bike lanes. While he said that taxis loading passengers in a bike lane would probably not be ticketed, regular cars already face a two-point, $90 violation for driving there.
“This is the most ambitious plan to make bicycle safety improvements in the city’s history,” said Noah Budnick of advocacy group Transportation Alternatives. “The fact that four agencies are working together shows that city hall is finally making bikes a priority.”
While city law only requires helmets for riders under the age of 14, Tuesday’s report found that riders without helmets accounted for 97 percent of the bike deaths.
The report suggested the city should extend the helmet law to all ages, and launch a free helmet distribution program.
“What do you call a bicyclist without a helmet,” asked Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “An organ donor.”