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Anti social cycling pinpointed as the cause

A new study claims that around 1,000 pedestrians in New York State are treated in hospital each year following collisions with cyclists, more than half of the incidents taking place in New York City itself.

The research was commissioned from two professors at New York City’s Hunter College by the Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation, and is aimed at filling a perceived gap in the provision of statistics relating to pedestrian/cyclist collisions.

The charity was set up by Nancy Gruskin, whose husband was killed two and a half years ago when he was struck by a delivery cyclist going the wrong way down a one-way street.

“I knew that that man that day did not set out to kill my husband, and I knew that he was just trying to get his food where it needed to go," Mrs Gruskin told the website NY1 in an interview earlier this year.

One initiative that the Mrs Gruskin set up following her husband’s death is a ‘Pedal Pledge’ designed primarily for businesses with delivery riders, but which can be supported by individual cyclists too, under which they commit to observing ‘5 to Ride rules,namely:

  1. put Pedestrians first
  2. stop at Every red light
  3. ride in the right Direction — with traffic
  4. stay on the Asphalt, off the sidewalk
  5. pick one Lane, and stick with it

As those five points suggest, the focus is against anti-social cycling by encouraging cyclists to ride responsibly while adhering to existing laws, rather than against cycling itself by seeking to impose new ones.

As a dedicated website for the initiative states, “We truly believe that New York area businesses, and individuals alike want to safely grow our city bicycle culture, which means following the rules of the road,” and the initiative also has the support of the local non-profit cycling advocacy group, Bike NYC.

Regarding the casualty statistics compiled by William Milczarski and Peter Tuckel of Hunter College, Mrs Gruskin told Reuters: "There were not statistics being kept on bicycle-pedestrian incidents. We just really wanted to get a better idea of what's going on our city streets."

The report’s authors said that their research "supports the wide body of anecdotal data that pedestrians are at risk not only from motor vehicle drivers but also from cyclists," although the study does not distinguish between incidents resulting for instance from cyclists riding on the sidewalk or pedestrians stepping into the street.

New York City Department Of Transportation (DOT) spokesman Seth Solomonow did not contest the statistics, but sought to put them into the context of wider road traffic casualty data.

"There are nearly 10,000 people who visit the hospital citywide each year after being struck by cars, so this is actually a pretty low number – one that's been kept low because of our safety investments," he told Reuters.

Mr Solomonow added that out of around 600 pedestrians killed in road traffic accidents during the past four years, only three had been struck by a bicycle – which by those rough numbers makes cars around 200 times more lethal.

As with the casualty statistics in general, the circumstances of those three fatalities involving bicycles, including whether the collisions took place on the sidewalk or on the street, for example, were not disclosed.

In the UK as a whole, there were just three recorded instances of pedestrians being killed following collisions with cyclists between 1999 and 2009, according to Department for Transport statistics.
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.