Advocates for cyclists and pedestrians fanned out
across the city Sunday, visiting accident sites and petitioning city
leaders to do more to make the streets safe.
Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal
A 'ghost bike' at 96th Street
and Second Avenue marks the death of Qi Yu Weng, a deliveryman who was
struck by a bus on March 25, 2011.
The seventh annual memorial ride put
together by the Street Memorial Project—the group whose white-painted
"ghost bikes" mark the scenes of fatal cycling accidents—comes as city
officials say there has been a surge of biking in New York, even as
fatalities and serious injuries remain relatively flat.
In other words, they are saying efforts to make biking more
accessible and safer have been working. But to many of those plying the
streets on two wheels, or on foot, it doesn't always feel that way.
"I think that they're doing a better job," said Ryan Kuonen, an
organizer with Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, just after she affixed a
pair of white flowers to the front wheel of a ghost bike at the corner
of McGuinness Boulevard and Kent Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. That
bike marks the intersection where a cyclist named Liz Byrne was killed
Ms. Kuonen praised the efforts of Transportation Commissioner Janette
Sadik-Khan to install bike lanes and improve conditions for cycling.
But she and others in the procession down McGuinness Boulevard said
speeding motorists must be more aggressively targeted.
"Speeding, illegal turns, not paying attention, all that stuff," she
said, cataloguing the dangers cyclists still face from cars. "The
difference between death and injury is speeding."
A DOT spokesman did not respond to requests for comment about the
memorial events, which included the walk through Greenpoint and group
bike rides in all five boroughs.
In 2011, 24 cyclists were killed. City officials noted at the time
the statistics were announced that the number was within the same range
as a decade earlier, even as bike usage had quadrupled during the same
The DOT regularly counts the number of cyclists on weekdays at six
locations in the city to extrapolate bicycle use. Bicycle commuting
declined in 1999, but has risen every year since, including jumps of 32%
and 26% in 2008 and 2009. The agency counted 18,846 commuting cyclists
in 2011, an 8% increase over the previous year.
The DOT's Cycling Safety Indicator combines its measurements of
commuter biking with reports of fatalities and serious injuries, and
shows that the risk of such an incident fell by 72% between 2000 and
"I think that the dramatic increase in the last 10 years has changed
the culture of traffic and certainly I think that there's an impact on
drivers and how they view their role on the road," said Council Member
Steven Levin at the memorial walk.
Kevin McCarthy, 58 years old, lives in the neighborhood,
and said the city has improved conditions for cyclists. The software
engineer in general defends the administration's installation. (His main
objection to one nearby, on Greenpoint Avenue, was its location in the
middle of the street. Cars simply drive through it, he said.)
"I've been riding in the city…for a little over 25 years," he said.
"The bike riding has gotten better, but it still has a long way to go."
A version of this article appeared Mar. 19,
2012, on page A21 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with
the headline: Rides in Five Boroughs Call Attention to Bike Safety.