The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) evaluates how bicycle-friendly each state is, using several indicators such as legislation and enforcement, infrastructure and funding, and evaluation and planning. Unfortunately, New York was ranked 42 in the country, and scored especially low in terms of its policies and programs.
According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 6,000 NYC traffic accidents and 36 New York fatalities involving cyclists in 2010. It is the unfortunate combination of increased bike travel in areas primarily designed for motor vehicles with motorists who do not acknowledge the rights of bicyclists. Drivers often fail to check whether a cyclist is coming before opening their car door, or get impatient when a bike is in front of them.
The LAB recommends the development of a police officer education curriculum that focuses on laws related to bicyclists, interactions between motorists and bicyclists, and bicycle collision investigation.
The LAB has also published safety tips for bicyclists to keep in mind, including;
- Obey all traffic laws, signs, and markings. Ride with traffic in the rightmost lane, not on the sidewalk. Use caution when stopping, merging, or turning, by looking back and using hand and arm signals.
- Be visible: Wear bright colors, and use lights and reflectors at night.
- Ride predictably: Ride in a straight line and make eye contact with motorists.
- Anticipate conflicts: Stay alert, especially at intersections, and be prepared to take evasive action, such as when a motorist opens a car door. Learn how to turn and brake properly to avoid crashes.
- Wear a helmet that fits properly: Even if a helmet shows no signs of damage, replace it after it has been impacted in a collision.
Despite all precautions, many bicyclists are severely injured every year by drivers careless or impatient. If you have been injured on a bike, consult an experienced New York personal injury attorney to fight for the compensation you deserve.