NYC Bicycle Delivery Accident Attorneys
Tragic bicycle accidents have become common in New York City. All too often, the cyclists hit were simply pedaling to their jobs or making an honest living as bicycle delivery riders. At least five cyclists lost their lives on New York City streets during July of 2019. Only 10 such deaths were recorded in all of 2018.
Although New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero program seemed to be helping to decrease cyclist and pedestrian accidents during recent years, that program is no longer fully capable of stemming the tide of the current series of major injuries and deaths.
Here’s a closer look at several of the 2019 bicycle accidents that resulted in death, some NYC cyclist data and a description of the key factors that now make biking across New York City a very dangerous proposition – especially in Brooklyn and Queens. Important suggestions made by bicycle activists and city authorities are also shared for improving bicycle safety.
Recent New York City Bicyclist Deaths
- June 2019. Twenty-year-old Robyn Hightman regularly worked as a bike courier and delivery person on the streets of New York City. On June 24th, she was hit and killed on by a 54-year-old truck driver who initially fled the scene of the accident. Ms. Hightman was traveling northbound on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan when she was struck by the truck.
Like too many other NYC drivers, when this man returned to the scene, he claimed he had not realized that he had hit someone or he would have stopped earlier. Bicycle messengers and activists often reject this type of claim since it’s become well known
that if you hit and kill a cyclist and say this – you can usually avoid facing any type of
serious criminal charges being filed regarding the death – as apparently happened in this
case. However, the truck driver was given five summonses unrelated to the young
woman’s death. Those aware of Robyn’s early life as a homeless youth deeply mourned
- May 2019. Twenty-nine-year-old cyclist Robert Sommer suffered severe head trauma after being hit in Marine Park in Brooklyn. Sommer was traveling near Avenue U and East 33rd Street right before being hit. He was pronounced dead after being taken to Coney Island Hospital;
- February 2019. On February 28th, twenty-five-year-old Aurilla Lawrence was hit and killed by a gas tank truck driver who fled the scene late at night. Just prior to being struck, Ms. Lawrence was riding eastbound on Broadway near Rodney Street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Other couriers mourned her death by gathering together and erecting a white “ghostbike” at a makeshift memorial in her honor the next night.
Very few motorists who hit bicyclists in New York City face any major charges related to those they seriously injure or kill. However, in December of 2018, Jonathan Cuesta, who apparently hit and killed MD Rajon, a bike courier, was charged by police with failing to yield the right of way and failing to exercise due care in regards to Rajon’s death.
Statistics related to all New York City bicycle lanes, injuries and deaths
- NYC has 1, 243 miles of bike lanes. A total of 480 of those miles have barriers intended to separate the cyclists from the motorists. Overall, the city has about 6,000 miles of streets;
- As of late July 2019, seventeen (17) cyclists have died in NYC since the beginning of the year. Twelve of those deaths took place in Brooklyn where the city has failed to create adequate bike lanes. Only 10 cyclists died in 2018. Back in 2017, 24 cyclists passed away on NYC streets. The overall annual average for the past decade is seventeen (17) a year;
- Number of daily NYC bike rides. Each day, approximately 460,000 bike rides are completed in NYC. Back in 2006, only 180,000 daily rides were completed here (per NYC statistics);
- Bicyclists injuries as opposed to deaths. As of late July 2019, the NYPD reports that about 379 cyclists have reported injuries this year – that’s compared to about 351 at this same time last year;
- Cyclists deaths compared to all others in NYC. As of early July 2019, one hundred (100) people have died in traffic crashes this year. That’s an increase of eleven (11) for this same time period last year. That figure of 100 represents 51 pedestrians, eight (8) motorcyclists and twenty-seven (27) people who were riding as passengers in motor vehicles.
In response to all the deaths of bicyclists during the first seven months of this year, Mayor de Blasio has announced new safety plans to combat the increased dangers.
Key parts of the Mayor de Blasio’s new July 2019 bicycle safety plan
The new plan will cost $58.4 million dollars and includes hiring eighty (80) new transportation workers who will be assigned to carry out new bike safety improvements. This includes annually adding 30 new miles of protected bike lanes. It should be noted that City Council transportation committee chairman Ydanis Rodriguez asserts that the annual total of new miles of protected bike lanes should equal one hundred (100) new miles — not just thirty (30).
Other new plans include making turns at intersections far safer for cyclists. The city is planning to redesign at least 50 intersections so that cyclists will become far more visible to motorists. This change will likely involve “bike boxes” that make it possible for cyclists to wait for lights to change in front of the motorists.
A pilot “green wave” program is also going to be tested that may help keep traffic speeds down. It can also help both cyclists and motorists pass through more green lights before having to stop periodically.
“Bike priority districts” are also being drawn up – with an emphasis on the many neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens since so many recent injuries and deaths have taken place in those areas. Finally, law enforcement officers will be asked to increase their strict monitoring of how closely people are obeying all traffic rules at the 100 intersections where most crashes keep happening.
Why do residents and authorities believe so many new bicycle accidents are occurring?
- A much higher percentage of people today are choosing to ride bicycles rather than catch rides on NYC’s often unpredictable subways and buses;
- Given the current success of e-commerce sales on websites like Amazon and grocery delivery websites, the city’s streets are now constantly congested with drivers delivering many goods all over the city — often seven days a week;
- Taxis are now competing with numerous ride-share competitors like Uber, Lyft and various ride-app programs;
- A vast number of New York City residents and workers are taking part in Citi Bike – the bike share program that can make it easier to get around on bikes than using taxis or buses, especially when running short errands;
- The bike lane safety barriers need to be made of stronger materials. All too often, motorists are driving right through them and blocking the bike lanes. Pictures of this often appear on Instagram and other social media;
- Some residents claim that when more cyclists are on the streets, many of them become lax about stopping at every stop sign and red light – increasing danger for everyone. However, cyclists do not appear to be the main cause of most accidents. In fact, careless motorists speeding around the city and failing to look for both cyclists and pedestrians crossing streets appear to cause the largest percentage of all collisions.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a New York City bicycling accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should immediately contact our New York City bicycle accident law firm. We’ll carefully investigate the facts of your case and then fight hard to win the maximum compensation available to cover all of your pain and suffering, lost wages, medical expenses and other accident-related losses. (Our firm also handles wrongful death claims).