'Master Plan' For NYC Streets for Bicyclists

By Mallika Singh on October 31, 2019

The  New York City will have to create a plan to bolster its cycling, pedestrian and public transit infrastructure under a bill set to pass this week. New York City officials must create a "master plan" to remake the Big Apple's streets in about two years under a measure lawmaker are set to pass this week. Our New York City bicycle accident lawyers know how seriously injured a bicyclist can be injured when they are hit by a car.  Hopefully these new measures will help to reduce bicycle accidents with bicyclists. 

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson's measure will require the Department of Transportation to deliver a five-year plan by December 2021 to shore up the city's infrastructure for cyclists, pedestrians and public transit. The bill aims to protect New Yorkers who do not drive in response to the dangers of climate change and cars, which are responsible for most deaths on city streets. in 2018, there were 18 deaths of bicyclists caused by accidents in New York City and this year there have been eight in the last five months. 

The initial master plan must lay out ambitious upgrades that officials will implement by 2026, with follow-up plans due every five years. It includes 250 miles of protected bike lanes, with 30 miles coming in the first year and 50 miles in each year thereafter. Others aim to improve bus service by adding 150 miles of dedicated bus lanes enforced by cameras or physically separated from traffic, and the installation of technology giving buses priority at traffic lights at 4,750 intersections. The plan would also protect walking New Yorkers by creating 1 million square feet of pedestrian space in the first two years, redesigning at least 2,000 intersections and making pedestrian signals accessible at least 2,500 intersections, according to council officials.

They are going to have to have significant changes on how they operate right now to actually be able to operationalize this. As a city, we know things are unsustainable and we need to make big changes. Most collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles occur at intersections, and many are the result of a motor-vehicle-driver’s negligence. Other accidents may result from a bicyclist’s negligence or a combination of bicyclist and motor-vehicle-driver negligence. Our bicycle accident lawyers who handle wrongful death cases know that a careless or inattentive driver can cause a tragedy. Our Manhattan bicycle attorneys are committed to getting justice for bicyclists  who are hit by cars. 

Applicability of Traffic Laws

Under the laws of most states, bicycles as well as motor-vehicles drivers are considered “vehicles” whose drivers are subject to the laws related to vehicle use and operation. Liability or fault can be attributed to the driver of a motor vehicle when the driver commits a traffic violation or otherwise engages in negligent driving. Actions that may lead to a finding of fault on the part of a motor-vehicle driver who causes injuries to a bicyclist include the following:

  • Driving above posted speed limits
  • Driving above speeds safe for weather or road conditions
  • Failure to give the right of way to bicyclists who have the right of way under the circumstances
  • Failing to stop at stop signs or other traffic signals
  • Failing to signal for a turn at the time required by law

Most intersection accidents between bicycles and motor vehicles occur as a result of right-of-way violations, according to statistics. Bicyclists and motor-vehicle drivers are charged with knowledge of all rules of the road, including those related to rights-of way, and ignorance of these laws is no excuse for a failure to comply with a rule’s strictures. In New York City, the traffic rules require that motor vehicles stay out of bicycle lanes and it is clear that in a bicycle lane, the car must yield to the bicyclist. In other words, it is the resopnsibility of the car to avoid hitting the bicyclist. 

Howver, outside of a bicycle lane, the usual rule of the road, which are contained in New York's Vehicle and Traffic Law, govern both vehicles and bicyclists alike. Different right-of-way rules apply to intersections with traffic signals and those without. In an intersection without traffic signals, the vehicle that arrives first is generally considered to have the right-of-way. If vehicles, including bicycles, arrive at an unmarked intersection at the same time, the motor vehicle or bicycle farthest to the right has the right-of-way. In addition, if one road is a major street while the other is a smaller, more minor throughway, the vehicle on the major street has the right-of-way regardless of which vehicle arrives first or which is farthest to the right.

In intersections with lighted traffic signals, the signals must be followed by cyclists and motor-vehicle drivers, alike. In intersections with stop signs, the rules giving the right-of-way to the vehicle farthest to the right and to the vehicle that first arrives generally apply. Another important circumstance is where a bicycle or vehicle is turning and in general, the vehicle or bicycle which is going straight has the right of way over a vehicle or bicycle that is turning. 

The increase in bicycle lanes will most likely reduce accidents, since most bicycle accidents are caused by vehicles changing lanes and not seeing the bicyclist. While New York  required that drivers see what there is to be seen on the fast paced streets of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens, quick lane changes and fast moving traffic are a fact of life, and our NYC bicycle accident lawyers know that drivers don't always check their blind spots before changing lanes. 

Contributory Negligence of Bicyclists

Under the laws of most states, the contributory negligence of a bicyclist may reduce the  recovery for damages sustained in an accident between the bicyclist and a motor-vehicle driver if the bicyclist’s own negligence is found to have accounted for a certain percentage of fault . In other words, the recovery of a bicyclist is reduced by the amount of comparative fault, that they are found to have occurred. 

The rules of contributory negligence may vary somewhat from state to state. Your attorney will evaluate your case and advise you on the law that applies in the jurisdiction in which your action will be filed.

 

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