According to the NYPD, there were 29 fatal bicycling accidents in New York City in 2019. That’s 19 more than the 10 that were reported in 2018. Now, we’ve seen what is thought to be the first bicycling fatality in 2020, and it happened on the last day of January.
2019 also represented the first year-to-year increase in overall fatal traffic crashes since the mayor’s “Vision Zero” initiative was launched in 2014.
According to the New York Post, an unidentified cyclist, 41, was riding south on Vandervoort Avenue in East Williamsburg when he was hit by a commercial truck. The truck, a 2005 Isuzu stake bed truck, was turning into a garage when he struck the cyclist.
The biker was rushed to a hospital but died, according to the police.
The truck driver, 54, remained at the scene. The NYPD continues to investigate, but he was not arrested and no summonses were issued.
NYPD forming a unit to target pedestrian and cyclist deaths
At the “State of the City” speech, Mayor de Blasio announced a new, 100-member unit within the NYPD that will specifically target traffic enforcement at certain hot spots that have been especially deadly for pedestrians and cyclists, the Post said.
The group will be called the “Vision Zero Unit” and will launch in the spring as part of the NYPD transportation bureau.
The unit will scrutinize collision data and find locations where there are high rates of pedestrians and cyclists being hit by vehicles, especially trucks, according to City Hall.
Once the target locations are identified, the unit will focus on enforcement of issues such as clearing bus lanes and bus stops, failure to yield, speeding and drunk driving.
Somewhat controversially, the NYPD apparently issued more moving violations to cyclists than truck drivers in 2019. That seems disproportionate, considering that 43 people were fatally struck last year by trucks, while only one person was killed in a collision with a cyclist. Biking advocates hope that the new unit will focus its efforts on cars and trucks instead of the odd jaywalker or scofflaw cyclist.
What else can the city do to prevent these tragedies? What do bikers, pedestrians and drivers need to do?