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NYC crosswalk culture: Will new bike share participants be safe?

Posted by Smiley & Smiley on May 31, 2013 11:50:03 AM

The new Citi Bike bike-share program has officially launched in New York City. This program has been both widely anticipated and widely dreaded by various segments of the community. For some, the program represents a chance for many New Yorkers to travel with greater ease and in a green, healthy fashion. For others, it represents an overflow of cyclists that will almost assuredly impact the already crowded and aggressive crosswalk culture that helps to define NYC.

Many are concerned that an increased number of cyclists on the streets will lead to a spike in both bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents as the crosswalks grow ever more crowded. Interestingly, some experts are now suggesting that greater cooperation between cyclists and pedestrians themselves could help both populations from being involved in accidents with motor vehicles.

Among the suggestions offered to pedestrians include staying out of the bike lanes. Just as you would not want cyclists on the sidewalk because their presence would compromise your safety, your presence in the bike lane compromises theirs. This advice applies both to traveling on foot in bike lanes generally and waiting to cross the street in bike lanes instead of up on the sidewalk. In addition, do not retaliate when cyclists ring their bells or warn you of their presence verbally. Unlike cars, most bikes do not have horns. Bells and voices are what cyclists use to communicate and keep both themselves and everyone around them safe.

Suggestions for cyclists include commonsense and critical avoidance of riding against traffic. Doing so immediately places you in danger as well as any pedestrians that could potentially be struck by cars swerving to avoid you. In addition, just as pedestrians need to avoid bike lanes, you need to avoid sidewalks. Sidewalks are for foot traffic, dogs on leashes and children at play, not bicycles. Finally, do not run red lights. Not only is doing so illegal and places you in the path of cars, it also places you in a prime position to run into pedestrians traveling in the other direction.

By prioritizing the safety of cyclists and pedestrians on the streets and in crosswalks, these populations can help each other avoid devastating accidents among themselves and with motor vehicles.

Source: Slate, "The Pedestrian-Cyclist Armistice," L.V. Anderson and Aisha Harris," May 22, 2013

Topics: car accidents

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