Everybody knows bicycle riders have turned our city's streets and sidewalks into utter death traps, but most New Yorkers have meekly submitted to the two-wheeled tyranny of cyclists and their leader, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Most, but not all—The New York Post has mounted a courageous counterattack against bike riders and their precious lanes, which have taken over 200 miles of street space (and counting) that used to be the exclusive property of motorists. In an editorial entitled "Attack of the Killer Bikes!," Post columnist Matt Harvey rants thus:
The rise of bikes is almost always framed by the pollution impact of cars. But New York already has an environmentally friendly commuter system: the subway. The city is a great place to walk, made less so by bicycles that threaten to take you out every time you step outside...
Kate Sullivan, a 28-year-old book editor who lives in the East Village, used to bike through Brooklyn all the time. Repeating a variation on an all too familiar story, she explains that one night, "passing too closely to a car," the driver accidentally opened his door on her. A broken collarbone and "many months of physical therapy" resulted.
"New York won’t ever be a great bike city like Amsterdam or Portland," she says. "It’s going to be a dangerous city to bike in no matter how many bike lanes we put in."
But contrary to the Post's "expert"-on-the-street, cyclist fatalities, on average, have remained flat in the past few years, despite a massive increase in bike riders. And we can safely assume that the increase in cyclists is at least in part attributable to the DOT's bike lane infrastructure improvements. Earlier this year a city report revealed that traffic fatalities in 2009 were down to the lowest they've been in a century, and 50 percent fewer cyclists were killed last year than in 2008—12 died last year, down from 26 in '08, according to the DOT. After getting bike lanes, road injuries were down roughly 30% on Grand Street, down 56% on Ninth Avenue, and down 50% on the new Broadway Boulevard between 42nd to 35th Streets.
Wiley Norvell at Transportation Alternatives tells us, "NYC streets are hardly a walk in the park, but they’re getting safer and bike lanes have a lot to do with it. Where protected bike lanes have been installed here in NYC, they’ve cut down on road injuries to all street users—cyclists, drivers and pedestrians—by roughly half." For their part, Transportation Alternatives has been working to encourage cyclists to always give pedestrians the right of way and obey other "Biking Rules."