Bicycling Deaths in NYC Grow, Despite “Vision Zero” Efforts

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio instituted the “Vision Zero” bicycling safety initiative with the goal of reducing the number of cyclist deaths in NYC down to zero (hence the Vision Zero title), but by the end of August, the number of cyclist deaths for 2016 has already surpassed that of 2015, calling into question the efficacy of the program. When 78-year old cyclist Michael Schenkman died on August 24 in Queens after being struck by a 25-year old motorist on Schenkman’s regular morning ride, his death brought the total number of cyclist deaths for 2016 up to 16, surpassing 2015’s total of 15 cyclist deaths with still four months to go in the year.

The Vision Zero Initiative

Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative is one of the central programs of his administration in a city that is increasingly relying on bicycles to get around and had the stated goal of reducing traffic-related deaths in the city to zero by the year 2024. When Vision Zero was announced by the de Blasio administration in 2014, the number of traffic-related fatalities city-wide was 286, on par with the annual number of homicides. The Vision Zero initiative included the following actions:

  • Tougher penalties on motorists who do not honor the right-of-way
  • Speed limit reductions across the city
  • Criminal penalties for certain motorists who strike cyclists/pedestrians
  • Increased number of protected bike lanes
  • Repair of broken traffic signals

Schenkman’s Death Exposes Ongoing Problems with Bicycle Safety in NYC

Despite these stated priorities of making NYC a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists, the death of Schenkman shows just how far NYC has to go in actually making the vision a reality. Schenkman was an avid cyclist, and was very familiar with the roads and rules of the road, having previously worked as a driver’s education instructor in Queens and running his own Volvo repair shop. Schenkman regularly rode his bicycle for 20 miles a day around the Queens neighborhoods where he was struck and killed.

Schenkman’s accident occurred on Northern Blvd in Queens, an area that was included as one of the most dangerous intersections for bicycle traffic in the Vision Zero agenda. Schenkman was pedaling east when he was struck by a Chevy Impala. The exact circumstances of the accident have not been widely reported, but, as one observer told the New York Daily News, “Cars go really fast here…They don’t stop. You have to have your eyes open.” Schenkman’s son lamented the general cultural attitude towards bicyclist safety in the United States, saying, “ We have a dream of Vision Zero, but cyclists continue to die on the streets of New York City at an alarming rate…Bicycles and cars don’t seem to work here. Bicycles aren’t looked at as positively as they are in Europe or even Canada. That has to change.”

Contact a New York Bicycle Accident Attorney Today

If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, you should contact a bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible to improve your chances of a full and timely recovery. At the Law Offices of Justin Brandel, we will aggressively pursue your claim and fight to get you the full compensation you deserve for all injuries sustained in your bicycle accident. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation and take the first step in protecting your rights.