Amid spike in bike deaths, Mayor Adams says city must ‘educate bicycle riders’ on traffic rules, expand safe street network


At an event promoting plans to expand the city’s network of outer-borough bike lanes, Mayor Adams argued Thursday that the city must “educate bicycle riders” on getting better at abiding by traffic rules amid an uptick in cycling deaths.
The mayor’s comments come on the heels of the city recording 29 bicycle deaths in the fiscal year that ended July 1. That’s the highest fiscal year bike death toll since at least 2013, according to city Department of Transportation data.
Adams, speaking at a Thursday afternoon briefing announcing the expanded network of bicycle greenways outside Manhattan, referenced the need for educating riders as one of several priorities when asked what he’s doing to reverse the troubling trend.
“We’re building out a safe bicycle network. We want to also educate bicycle riders,” said Adams, who vowed as a mayoral candidate to drastically expand the city’s bike lane infrastructure. “As I’m riding through the city, I’m watching, you know, some of my fellow riders not adhering to some of the traffic safety rules that are in place. The same rules that are for vehicles are for cyclists as well.”
He also told reporters that “dealing with speeders” is an important part of addressing bike fatalities. He did not specify whether he was talking about speeding motorists or bicyclists, but Adams spokesman Jonah Allon said afterward that the remark referenced drivers.
The mayor’s push for more education for riders comes as his administration is falling short of its own targets for developing better bike infrastructure.
Adams’ annual Mayoral Management Report released last month showed the city built 47.7 miles of new bike lanes in the 2023 fiscal year, below the 50-mile target set by his administration. Of the new construction, 25.9 miles were bike lanes protected from car traffic with bollards or other dividers, below the 33.2 miles developed in the 2022 fiscal year, the report shows.
Against that backdrop, Brooklyn Councilman Lincoln Restler, a progressive Democrat who sits on the Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, argued the mayor’s wrong to label public education for bikers a priority.
“The mayor should not shift blame to victims of traffic violence, he should take responsibilities for making our streets safer,” said Restler, a frequent Adams critic. “The mayor should be focusing on making our streets safer with evidence-based interventions that are proven to be effective at reducing fatalities and serious injuries, like protected bike lanes.”
It’s unclear from Adams’ Mayoral Management Report how many of the 2023 fiscal year’s 29 fatalities involved e-bikes.
However, city Department of Transportation data shows that of the 26 bike deaths recorded so far in the 2023 calendar year, 18 involved e-bikes. That roughly mirrors category breakdowns for bike deaths from previous years, the data shows.
Adams’ Thursday announcement focused on plans to create a network of 40 miles of new protected bike lanes across five “greenways” in Queens, Staten Island, Brooklyn and The Bronx. The greenway corridors will span the Bronx’s entire waterfront; large sections of the northern waterfronts of Queens and Staten Island; a 12-mile route through Brooklyn, and a seven-mile stretch near Queens’ Jamaica Bay, according to a map released by Adams’ office.
Completion of the scenic new bike lane network isn’t around the corner.
The only section where work is already underway is the Harlem River part of the Bronx greenway, while “planning” on the Queens waterfront part will begin early next year, Adams administration officials said. Planning for the remaining sections will kick off every six months through 2026, and there are no immediate projected completion dates any of the projects.
In addition, Adams said that while the contours of the greenway corridors are identified, the exact street routes won’t be picked until there’s a “community engagement” process.
“I cannot emphasize this enough: That is one of the top complaints we receive — people did not feel as though they were engaged,” he said. “We can’t move at such a fast pace that we’re leaving communities behind.”
Adams did not elaborate on which particular street redesign initiatives have stirred such pushback. But his administration has been criticized by transportation advocates in recent months for last-minute reneges on protected bike lane projects at Ashland Place, Underhill Avenue and McGuinness Boulevard in Brooklyn.
Adams also pulled the plug on a bus-centric redesign of Fordham Road in the Bronx last month at the behest of borough business leaders.
Transportation Alternatives, the cycling advocacy group, called on the city to quickly build the additional miles announced Thursday amid the sharp uptick in cyclist deaths.
“New Yorkers cannot afford any delays — we need to break ground on these projects as soon as possible,” Juan Restrepo, Transportation Alternatives’ organizing director, said.
“With 2023 on track to be the deadliest year for bike riders since 1999, building new, safe places to bike is vital to protecting New Yorkers from traffic violence,” Restrepo added.


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