John “Yac” Yacobellis is the King of the NYC Bike Messengers. He speeds (0:30 and 3:20), he weaves (0:51, 3:35, 4:00), he takes over sidewalks (4:55) and he harasses pedestrians (0:17 and 1:04). But if he’s the example that NYC bikers are looking up to, they must have missed a memo from the NYC DoT:
- Vehicle and Traffic Laws of New York State § 1231 rules that bicyclists have all the rights and responsibilities of a motor vehicle.
- Rules of the City of New York § 4-02 (a) states that all the provisions of NYC Traffic Rules are applicable to bicycles and their operators.
- RCNY § 4-07 (c)(3) also states that bikes aren’t allowed on sidewalks unless sign allows or if their wheel diameters are <26 inches and the rider is 12 years or younger.
Most of us are used to speeding taxis and distracted drivers making our stroll across Times Square that little bit more dangerous, but the less obvious threat travels on two wheels.
Between 1996 and 2005, 11 pedestrians died as a result of crashing with bicyclists. Of these, only three were identified as caused by pedestrians disregarding traffic signals. The report cites no numbers for major or minor injuries caused by such collisions.
But Transportation Alternatives has a complementary set of data. They report that in 1992 there were 298 pedestrian-bicycle collisions and 2 fatalities. The numbers suggest that there are at least 100 collisions for each fatality, if not more.
The city continues to develop its bike networks, but keeping the streets safe for both cyclists and pedestrians requires the both of them to obey the rules.
Edit: Fixed some broken links. Sorry about that!