Over the past few decades, biking has become an increasingly common form of transportation in all five boroughs of New York City. Sharp increases in bike use followed on the heels of the launch of CitiBike in 2013, and then again with the pandemic. Today, biking is more popular than ever as a way for New Yorkers to commute and get around town.
Bike accidents represent an unfortunate but inevitable byproduct of bicycling’s growth in The Big Apple. A recent year saw the highest bicycle accident totals yet in every borough.
By knowing where and why those accidents happen, riders can mitigate their risks of getting hurt in a crash. Here’s a review of where bike accidents happen in all five of NYC’s boroughs and how an experienced New York City bike accident lawyer can handle the job of getting injured bikers financial compensation for their injuries and losses.
Bike Accidents in Each of the Five Boroughs
According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) at the University of Albany, the number of bicycle accidents in New York City spiked in a recent year to 5,562 crashes. The vast majority of those accidents caused injuries to the bicyclist, and 19 of them resulted in fatalities.
Throughout the city, a large percentage of bicycle accidents occurred at intersections or along busy, multi-lane thoroughfares. Here is a review of where bike accidents happened in each borough in a recent year.
After averaging around 1,200 bike accidents every year, Manhattan’s tally of crashes rose to over 1,400 in a recent year. Every Manhattan neighborhood saw bike accidents, but according to NYC Crash Mapper, they were not evenly distributed around the island. Relatively high concentrations of bike crashes happened on the East side of lower Manhattan, in Midtown, and Harlem.
Manhattan hot spots with multiple bike accidents in a recent year included:
- The intersection of Chrystie and Delancy Streets;
- The intersection of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue;
- Second Avenue in the 50s, especially around the Queensboro Bridge access points;
- 125th Street, especially at its intersections with First Avenue, Malcolm X. Boulevard, and Amsterdam Avenue
- Broadway at 142nd Street.
Over 2,100 bike accidents happened in a recent year in Brooklyn, making it the most bicycle crash-prone borough in NYC. In one recent year, the highest concentrations of bicycle accidents happened at intersections and along heavily trafficked streets in Williamsburg, Fort Green, Park Slope, and Flatbush.
Hot spots included:
- Grand Street in Williamsburg;
- The intersection of Jay and Tillary Streets;
- Flatbush Avenue at the Southeast corner of Prospect Park;
- Ocean Parkway at Cortelyou Road.
Bike accidents have been on an upward trend in Queens over the past few years, reaching a new high of 1,140 crashes in one recent year. Of late, the highest concentrations of bicycle accidents have occurred along thoroughfares in Astoria, Corona, Jamaica, and Long Island City.
Hot spot streets for bike crashes in Queens include:
- Northern Boulevard, East of the BQE;
- Roosevelt Avenue, from the Grand Central to the BQE;
- Junction Boulevard in Corona;
- Woodhaven Boulevard at 73rd Avenue.
Bicycle crashes have also been on the rise in the Bronx. Seven hundred seventy-three of them happened in one recent year, resulting in four deaths and 743 personal injuries. Most of those accidents happened west of the Bronx River Parkway, including in Melrose, Mott Haven, and Tremont.
Bicycle accident hotspots in the Bronx include:
- Jerome Avenue at Fordham Road;
- University Avenue at Burnside Avenue/West 179th Street;
- Jerome Avenue at the Cross Bronx Expressway overpass;
- Morris Avenue at East 149th Street.
Far fewer bicycle accidents happen on Staten Island than in the other boroughs during any given year, but they still take a heavy toll. Ninety-one bike crashes occurred in a recent year, 89 of which caused personal injuries. Bay Street in Tompkinsville saw the highest concentration of bicycle accidents. The stretch of Castleton Avenue from Jewett Avenue to Bard Avenue was also a notable hot spot.
How New York City Bike Accidents Happen
ITSMR collects data not only on the number of bicycle accidents in New York City every year but also on the factors cited by police as having contributed to the cause of each crash. In every borough, police cited mistakes and carelessness by the drivers of vehicles that struck bicycles as the most common contributing factors in bike accidents.
By far, the most common factor cited as a cause for bicycle accidents throughout the five boroughs was driver inattention/distraction. That’s no surprise. New York City is a perfect storm for driver inattention and distraction. City drivers contend with one of the most visually dynamic and cognitively taxing environments imaginable, featuring intersections, pedestrians, poor lane markings, detours, visual obstructions, and vehicles of all shapes and sizes competing for limited space.
On these busy, stressful city streets, even a momentary lapse in attention by a car, truck, or bus driver can have catastrophic consequences for bicyclists. A driver who makes the poor decision to send a text while behind the wheel, or to look away from the road ahead for just a second or two, can easily end up clipping a passing bicycle or turning into an oncoming biker’s path.
Driver (and passenger) inattention can also lead to so-called dooring accidents, in which a bicycle collides with a vehicle door that a driver opens into the street without first checking for approaching bicyclists.
Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way
The second most common contributing factor in New York City bike accidents, according to ITSMR, is the failure of one of the vehicles involved in a crash to yield the right of way to the other. Although the data does not specify which vehicle failed to yield to the other, it’s a safe bet that most of the time, these bike accidents happen when a motor vehicle turns into the path of a bicycle.
As anyone who has ridden a bike on city streets knows, vehicles turning left pose an especially significant danger to bicyclists. Often, it seems like drivers do not even see oncoming cyclists before turning across their lane and crashing into them, and that may actually be the case.
According to scientists, a common psychological phenomenon known as inattentional blindness sometimes causes drivers’ brains not to register vehicles with relatively small visual profiles, like bicycles, even when they’re in a driver’s direct line of sight.
Bike accidents also frequently occur in New York City because of driver confusion about the rights of way between motor vehicle lanes and bicycle lanes, including whether and where vehicles can enter or cross a bike lane. Many NYC bike lanes do not feature physical barriers protecting them from car, truck, and bus traffic, which often leads to vehicles merging into or turning across those lanes when bikers least expect it, resulting in a crash.
Improper Passing, Lane Usage, and Lane Changing
MR data also reflects that bike accidents commonly occur in each of the five boroughs because of a motorist’s improper attempts to pass or change lanes when sharing a city street with a cyclist.
New York City bike laws give bicyclists largely the same rights to use city streets as all other vehicles. They also require motorists to use due care in sharing the streets with cyclists, even if cyclists make a mistake and ride in the wrong lane or street location. It is never, ever ok for a vehicle to collide with a bicycle, regardless of the bicyclist’s compliance with NYC’s rules of the road.
Unfortunately, drivers do not always take the necessary care around bicyclists. For example, although bicyclists generally have the right to occupy a traffic lane on any two-way street that lacks a usable bike lane, drivers often pass them as if they must move over.
This often results in a bike crash. Drivers also frequently change lanes in the city without checking for bikers in their blind spots, carelessly causing dangerous bicycle accidents. Drivers also sometimes speed up or make aggressive maneuvers when they think they have the right-of-way over a bicycle, pointlessly leading to a crash that almost always inflicts severe injuries to the cyclist.
The prevailing speed limit in most of New York City is 25 mph, but even that speed isn’t always safe. Bike accidents frequently happen in New York when motor vehicles travel too fast for the city’s crowded traffic environment. As speed increases, the time a driver has to react to unexpected situations decreases, and the distance a vehicle needs to come to a safe stop gets longer. In many cases, speeding drivers simply cannot avoid colliding with a bicyclist. Unfortunately, increased speed also increases the severity of a bicyclist’s injuries.
Obstructions and Other Street Hazards
It is illegal in New York City for vehicles to drive or stop in a designated bike lane. But that doesn’t stop it from happening. Cars, trucks, and buses regularly encroach on or double-park in bike lanes throughout the five boroughs, causing dangerous obstructions that cyclists may crash into or that force cyclists out of bike lanes and into vehicle traffic.
Other dangerous physical obstructions and hazards also abound in bike and vehicle traffic lanes. Anyone who rides a bike in the city has likely had the experience of needing to dodge boxes, pedestrians, pets on leashes, temporary fencing, open manhole covers, potholes, and building debris (to name just a few) in their path. Nearly all of these obstructions happen because of someone else’s careless disregard for biker safety and put riders at risk of serious accidents.
How a Bike Accident Lawyer Can Help
Bicyclists who get hurt in accidents in New York City have the right to receive compensation for their injuries. Under New York insurance law, motorists must carry no-fault auto insurance that covers any bicyclist injured in a collision with their vehicle. Drivers and others who cause bike accidents through careless or reckless conduct may also have a legal obligation to pay further damages to injured cyclists in addition to any amounts covered by no-fault insurance.
To obtain financial compensation for their injuries, NYC bikers can benefit from hiring a local attorney who regularly represents injured cyclists in bike accident cases. Despite the numerous recent laws and infrastructure improvements aimed at protecting bicyclists and promoting bike transport in New York City, our legal system still has an entrenched tendency to blame bike riders for getting hurt in crashes.
A bike accident lawyer’s job is to protect injured riders from those institutional biases and to get bike accident victims the maximum money damages available to pay for their injuries and losses.
Your NYC bike accident lawyer can:
- Investigate the root causes of a bicycle accident to determine exactly what happened;
- Locate and collect evidence to prove those root causes;
- Identify the party or parties who may owe you monetary damages, either through no-fault insurance or under New York bike accident liability laws;
- Advise you and your loved ones about your rights and answer your questions about when and how to move forward with taking legal action;
- Prepare, file, and pursue legal demands for financial compensation, including insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits;
- Interact with insurance companies, official investigators, and media on an injured cyclist’s behalf;
- Negotiate with at-fault parties and their insurers to secure a fair financial settlement of a biker’s injury claim;
- Go to court to present a bike accident injury claim to an NYC judge and jury; and
- Collect the money owed to you through an insurance claim, negotiated settlement, court judgment, or jury award.
Contact an NYC Bike Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a bike accident in any of New York City’s five boroughs, you likely have the right to demand financial compensation from the driver and/or other at-fault parties. Contact an experienced New York City bike accident lawyer today for a free case consultation.