Uptowns Ydanis Rodriguez And Others Unite To Support Bill Increasing Safety Of Bicycling

November 15, 2016

Councilmember-Ydanis-Rodriguez1Today, despite the rain, Council Members Carlos Menchaca, Uptowns Ydanis Rodriguez, and Antonio Reynoso, advocates and community members came together at the steps of City Hall for a press conference in support of Intro. 1072, a piece of legislation that promises to increase the safety of bicyclists in New York City.

Intro. 1072, also known as the “LPI bill,” would establish that bicyclists follow pedestrian control signals at intersections with leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs). Usually, pedestrian control signals are synchronized with the signals controlling motor vehicles, that is, pedestrians and motor vehicles are allowed to proceed simultaneously. However, at some locations, there is an LPI, which typically gives pedestrians at least a seven second head start when entering an intersection with a corresponding green signal in the same direction of travel.

“This bill can reduce congestion, make the ride smoother for vehicles and bicyclists alike, and, most importantly, make commuting significantly safer for bicyclists in a way that has proven successful for pedestrians,” said Council Member Menchaca, author of the bill. “As a bicyclist myself, I know that the small head start over traffic at LPI intersections would give me an added sense of security, knowing that surrounding vehicles will spot me. I believe that the City is working to make streets safer for bicyclists like me. This bill is part of a larger conversation we are having as a City through Vision Zero -and I invite every New Yorker to join this conversation and these efforts to make our commute safer.”

The press conference immediately preceded a Committee on Transportation hearing on the bill.

With cyclist deaths up in 2016 from the previous two years, it’s clear we need to take some innovative steps to make conditions safer for these vulnerable travelers…

“With cyclist deaths up in 2016 from the previous two years, it’s clear we need to take some innovative steps to make conditions safer for these vulnerable travelers,” said uptown Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Committee on Transportation. “Giving cyclists a head start at intersections allows them the ‘take the lane’ and get out in front of cars, making themselves more visible and ending potential conflicts with turning cars. This is a strong step toward making our city more cycling-friendly and I am glad to have the transportation committee hold a hearing on it as we move it forward.”

LPIs enhance the visibility of pedestrians in the intersection and reinforce their right-of-way over turning vehicles, especially in locations with a history of road conflict. LPIs have been shown to reduce pedestrian-vehicle collisions as much as 60% at treated intersections. Proponents believe that cyclists deserve similar safety considerations. Intro. 1072 would allow for bicyclists to follow pedestrian control signals at intersections with LPIs. This would in no way alter the fact that pedestrians have the right of way when cyclists are in motion.

Prominent streets safety advocates, many of whom have directly influenced the drafting of this bill, came out to express their support for the bill:

“Allowing people on bikes to proceed through intersections during pedestrian head start signals is a common-sense way to prevent the conflicts with turning drivers that kill and injure far too many New Yorkers,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “We thank Council Members Menchaca, Reynoso and Lander for showing Vision Zero leadership at a time when cyclist fatality statistics are unfortunately moving in the wrong direction.”

“Giving people on bikes a short head start at intersections is a simple and proven way to prevent injuries and save lives. I applaud Council Member Menchaca for this bill, which perfectly aligns with the city’s Vision Zero goals,” said Doug Gordon, a safe streets advocate from Brooklyn.

“As someone who rides a bike around New York City for transportation, I often wish I could proceed through dangerous intersections before drivers have the chance to ignore my right of way,” said Joanna Oltman Smith, a safe and livable streets advocate. “By reducing mid-intersection conflicts between people on bikes and turning vehicles, this bill, if enacted, is certain to reduce injuries and fatalities on our streets. It is an elegant, no-cost way to further NYC’s Vision Zero goals.”

“StreetsPAC is proud to stand here today in support of Council Member Menchaca’s Intro 1072. It’s a common-sense bill that will make our streets safer for people on bikes, especially in reducing dangerous conflicts at intersections. We urge the Council to move quickly to pass this legislation into law,” said Eric McClure, Executive Director of StreetsPAC.

“Using the LPI while on my bike saves my life every day,” said Hilda Cohen, cofounder of Kidical Mass NYC. “I bike with my son to school each day that we can and we follow the laws and stop at reds. It is incredibly intimidating to have a driver gunning the engine while we wait for the light to change, vulnerably sitting right in front of them. Half the time my son on his bike is not even visible to the driver if their vehicle is large enough. Those precious moments the LPI allows gives us time and distance to get ahead of the vehicles, to make that transition safer for everyone.”

“Council Member Menchaca’s bill is a much needed step forward on the road to Vision Zero,” said Paco Abraham, a safer streets advocate from Prospect Lefferts Gardens. “It will give people who bike a brief head start as they contend with multi-ton vehicles beside them.  It will give those who drive a few extra seconds to notice their fellow New Yorkers who are more vulnerable to danger, all while preserving a pedestrian’s right of way when crossing our city streets. If the Mayor and City Council want to continue reducing unnecessary risks on our streets, I urge them to approve this bill immediately.”

The sponsoring Council Members believe that this bill will create a safer commute for all New Yorkers:

“This bill is a step toward acknowledging that cyclists are not cars, and that we should have sensible rules that address their needs and promote their safety,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

“Leading pedestrian intervals are already working well, providing people with an important window of protection when they are most vulnerable crossing dangerous intersections,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Extending this protection to cyclists who are vulnerable in intersections in the same way is an important step — and has the added advantage of allowing cyclists to get ahead of traffic as they proceed down the street making them much safer that way as well.”

“We can spare a few seconds for safety,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “A brief moment’s head start goes a long way to making sure our intersections serve the needs of cyclists and pedestrians alike. While we already have a reputation as a fast-paced, bustling city, there is no reason we can’t become synonymous with safety, too.”

This proposed legislation ties well with the City of New York’s Vision Zero Action Plan. Vision Zero is a direct response to fatalities on city streets and seeks to improve the safety of our streets for all commuters. This bill is one of many ways in which our Mayor and our City Council are responding to the safety concerns of our residents. Under this new bill, bicyclists could enjoy an extra sense of security — the same that pedestrians feel when they are given the opportunity to get a head start over traffic.

Watch live video of hearing by clicking on “City Hall – Chambers” here: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/webcasts/

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