Brooklyn doesn’t just lead the city in bicycle commuters, it leads the city in bicycle deaths. While awareness has increased and the city continues to add new lanes for alternative transportation, cars still rule the road and threaten cycling safety.
The New York Times reports that through August 2016, 8 of the 15 cycling deaths in New York City were in Brooklyn despite the borough’s reputation as a popular cycling ground. Adding lanes isn’t enough. After nine bicyclists died in Brooklyn in all of 2015, the number appears to be rising. Last year, Brooklyn ranked second to Queens’ 12 deaths. So far in 2016, Queens has reduced that figure to just one while it climbs in Brooklyn.
Protected bike lanes, which provide a barrier between motor traffic and bikes, have proven to reduce injury to cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians alike, yet Brooklyn lags measurably behind Manhattan even though both boroughs have a similar amount of cyclist commuters. Compared to Brooklyn’s eight deaths this year, Manhattan has just two.
Part of the problem is basic street design. There are many streets particularly in south Brooklyn, without designated bike lanes at all. When a commuter is going from home to work, this forces the bike into traffic next to cars, piecing together a route with added risk.
Cars remain the primary and most dangerous concern. Cyclists are undeniably more vulnerable on the road, but the problem is deeper. Many simply do not respect the legal obligation to share the road. Multiple fatal accidents this year have included motorists crossing painted medians and disregarding fundamental rules. Despite these facts, many feel the police are quicker to cite cyclists for violations than they are for the larger, more dangerous cars.
Roughly 18,300 cyclists commute each day with a legal right to the roads, yet Brooklyn is struggling to keep those citizens safe.