Despite the rash of horrific headlines about bicycle and pedestrian fatalities in New York, including the deaths of cyclist Neftaly Ramirez and skateboarder Alejandro Tello just two weekends ago, the results of a new city-wide study released today claim the streets are actually getting safer.

Although the number of bicyclists in the city continues to rise, cycling is actually getting “dramatically safer,” according to the study, which was commissioned by the NYPD, Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

An estimated 164 million bicycle trips were taken in 2015, an increase of 150% from 66 million trips in 2006, says the study, which can be viewed in its entirety here. (An executive summary can be viewed here.) The study looked at the number of bicycle KSI (“Killed and Severely Injured”) across the last two decades.
Some of the findings:
  • There is “safety in numbers”: “Researchers in the field of traffic safety posit that the more cyclists there are on the road, the safer riding becomes for all cyclists. The correlation between the rise in cycling and the drop in cyclist fatalities and [cyclist casualties] per bicycle trip suggests that this … dynamic may be occurring in New York City.”
  • The growth of the Citi Bike program has coincided with a drop in cyclist deaths and injuries within the areas served by Citi Bike: “Cyclist [casualties] declined by 17% within the bike share zone after one year of operation, despite a recorded 8.2 million bike share trips in the first year of operation.”
  • Most cyclist fatalities occur on streets without bicycle facilities like bike lanes: “Between 2006 and 2016, only 11% of cyclist fatalities occurred on streets with a bicycle facility.”
  • The overwhelming number of cyclist fatalities and injuries occur at street crossings: “The majority of cyclist fatalities (65%) and an even greater percentage of cyclist KSI (89%) occurred at intersections.”

Among the study’s chief recommendations: The Department of Transportation should aggressively expand the city’s bike lane network. The study also recommends legislation mandating that vehicles maintain a three-foot distance when passing cyclists.

As of this morning, the perpetrators of the deaths of Neftaly Ramirez and Alejandro Tello, both of whom were killed in hit-and-runs, are still at large. Today DNAinfo reported that the garbage truck that struck Tello is believed to belong to Action Carting, a private sanitation company with a history of fatalities.