Updated 8/17/10, 9:13 a.m.
NEW YORK (CBS 2) – The NYPD is on a ticket blitz, giving cyclists more than 15,000 violations so far this year. Many pedestrians say it’s about time and fear the city’s push to get people pedaling has led to danger on the streets and sidewalks. Some have even dubbed it “bike bedlam.”
The Big Apple is racing to become the bike capital of the world and the Bloomberg administration has added more bike racks, paths and lanes.
However, as CBS 2’s Tony Aiello found out, spending a few minutes along the new bike lane on First Avenue makes clear that plenty of New Yorkers have little liking for the biking.
“It would be one thing if the bike riders obeyed the lights and things — they don’t,” Lower East Side resident Amber Rogers told Aiello.
In a recent 20 minute period at First Avenue and Sixth Street, CBS 2 counted 17 bike riders running red lights and more than two dozen riding the wrong way and against traffic.
Fifteen months ago, a wrong-way bike rider sent Nancy Gruskin’s world spinning.
Her husband Stuart was crossing the street in Midtown when he was struck by a bicyclist and dealt a fatal head injury from the ensuing fall. He died just three weeks before his twins – Samantha and David – celebrated their Bat and Bar Mitzvahs.
“I mean it was such shock for many, many months,” Gruskin said.
Many New Yorkers have stories to tell about dangerous encounters with bike riders, but when you look for statistics, they are nowhere to be found. New York City doesn’t keep a central database of accidents involving bicycles and pedestrians.
Former bike shop owner Jack Brown now advocates for pedestrian safety.
“It is the cyclists who have gone way out of control,” Brown said.
In New York, bikes are classified as vehicles and riders are required to obey all traffic laws and signals, but Aiello says it is an understatement to say ‘many do not.’
Brown describes the trend as “rogue riding” and the NYPD admits it is major quality if life issue and something the city is struggling to control even as it embraces pedal power.
Mayor Bloomberg says the recent bike ticket blitz should remind riders that they must obey the rules of the road.