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Unpredictable bicycling experiences in New York City

Photo of Christopher Seleski

Cyclists in New York City never know what types of obstacles they are going to face. One thing that is certain is that a ride through the city isn’t ever boring. The ever-evolving city can make rides interesting for bicyclists.

In the next year or so, there will be a lot of changes coming for bicyclists. In fact, one change aimed at helping to improve bicyclists safety in the city has already begun a pilot program to determine how the city will proceed with a full rollout.

Pilot program at intersections

Some intersections in the city are covered under a pilot program that allows bicyclists to follow pedestrian signals instead of having to follow traffic signals. It is thought that this is a safer option so that bicyclists can have a chance to cross the street without having to worry about oncoming traffic.

The 50 intersections are clearly marked with signage about the program. It uses Leading Pedestrian Intervals, a Department of Transportation approved program, that allows 7 to 11 seconds for people to cross intersections while traffic lights on all sides are red.

In New York City, there are 2,547 intersections with LPIs that are already installed. The goal is to allow pedestrians to be more visible to motorists in an effort to reduce the number of accidents. The pilot in NYC is meant to determine if bicyclists will enjoy the same safety benefits as other pedestrians.

Upcoming L train shutdown

Next year, the L train will close for 15 months while repairs are done. These have been needed since Hurricane Sandy caused damage. During the period that the popular subway is closed, there is expected to be an increase in bicycle traffic. Between the use of bike share programs and others needing to take their own bikes to destinations normally reached on the L train, it is estimated that many more bicyclists will be out on the roads.

In fact, a 30 percent uptick in bicycle traffic over the Williamsburg Bridge is expected. This means that bicyclists will need to brush up on basic safety rules to help combat the increase in accident risk that comes with more congested bike paths. Hopefully, the LPI pilot program will also help.

In any instance that involves a bicyclist getting struck by a car, traffic in the area is bound to slow down. Others should respect this phenomenon since it is imperative to get the injured bicyclist the medical care he or she needs.

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