On Thursday, a cyclist was involved in a collision with a box truck on Franklin Street near the intersection at Calyer Street resulting (luckily) in non-fatal injuries and providing an unfortunate example of the street’s dangerous conditions. Just two days prior to the Franklin Street accident a 58-year-old man was killed while biking on McGuinness Boulevard, a notoriously dangerous street to bike. Is Franklin Street that much safer than McGuinness Boulevard?
The stretch of Franklin Street from Calyer Street to Greenpoint Avenue was repaved two weeks ago and now lacks street or bike lane markings, which Greenpoint residents say make the street especially unsafe for biking.
A Dept. Of Transportation study found that since 2014, 90 percent of bike fatalities in NYC happened on streets without bike lanes. Additionally, “more than 40% of bicycle fatalities have been in Brooklyn, 24% in Manhattan, and 22% in Queens. In 2019 71% of the fatalities have been in Brooklyn. 58% occurred on designated truck routes.” Franklin Street is a truck route now without a painted bike lane in its most dangerous stretch, making it especially unsafe for cyclists.
It’s not just protected bike lanes that are needed for increased safety, traffic law enforcement is integral according to Silk Road Cycles (76 Franklin St.), the bike shop located at the Franklin/Calyer intersection where Thursday’s bike/truck accident occurred:
Yesterday the second person this month was hit by a truck while riding their bicycle past our shop. We wish them a full and speedy recovery.
Our streets are incredibly dangerous for all its users. As a bicycle shop owner, daily bicycle commuter, pedestrian, and driver in my opinion the main issue is the lack of enforcement. Daily the vast majority of drivers, including NYC government vehicles, blow through the stop sign at the dangerous intersection in front of our shop. In the 8 years we have been here I have never personally witnessed a driver ticketed for doing so. Same for my bicycle commute from Queens. Vehicles speed down Metropolitan Ave, park in Grand Ave bike lane, don’t give pedestrians right of way in cross walks etc. I rarely witnesss these illegal acts reprimanded.
17 cyclists have died in NYC this year (including the death on McGuinness Boulevard this week) compared to 10 deaths in 2018. These accidents bring attention to bike safety in Greenpoint and NYC, and this week the city government introduced new initiatives to improve bike safety.
In response, Mayor de Blasio on Thursday announced a $58 million “Green Wave” plan to annually construct 30 miles of protected bike lanes and 2,000 bike parking spaces, including bike corrals.
Enforcement of traffic laws, with special attention for trucks at notoriously dangerous intersections, is also part of the plan, as Streetsblog breaks it down:
Historically, trucks have been involved in about 30 percent of cyclist fatalities, but this year that number shot up to more than 40 percent, according to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
The NYPD will launch a crackdown against dangerous truck drivers and target 100 of the most dangerous intersections in the city, slapping drivers with tickets if they put cyclists in danger.
“All of them will receive additional NYPD enforcement with a special focus on trucks. I want everyone that drives a truck in this city to know the NYPD will be watching and they will take action if any trucker does the wrong thing and endangers a bicyclist,” de Blasio said.
Trottenberg added that DOT will work closely with the trucking industry in order to ensure that drivers get training to boost their awareness of cyclist and pedestrians.
Another protective measure for bicyclists was passed Tuesday by the NYC council, granting bike riders a 7+ second head start (along with pedestrians) at approximately 1,300 intersections in Brooklyn.