Bike Bedlam: Disturbing Cyclist Trends

Hunter College Study IDs Some Of City's Biggest Offenders

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — If you live in the city and you “ordered in” recently, there’s a good chance the rider who delivered your food broke the law.

Delivery riders make up an estimated 45 percent of bicycle traffic in Manhattan and there is a widespread feeling that they are among the biggest violators of the rules of the road, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reports.

Hunter College Professor Peter Tuckel has compiled some facts to backup those feelings.

Tuckel sent 60 sociology students onto the streets of Manhattan to document bicyclist behavior. Those students observed over 5,000 cyclists and found a disturbing trend.

Tuckel says the delivery riders were consistently the worst offenders of traffic rules.

“About 37 percent of the cyclists ran through the red lights, and an additional 25 percent or so paused at the red light and then continued to go through the red light,” Tuckel told Aiello.

The study also found that on streets with bike lanes, riders failed to use the lanes almost 30 percent of the time.

Bike commuter Errol Ansalone compares the trend to pedestrians who cross the street against the “do not walk” signal.

“I know it sounds horrible, but if we had to obey all the traffic laws, I would think most people wouldn’t be riding bikes,” Ansalone said.

The Hunter College study also found 17 percent of bike riders went the wrong way on one-way streets. In addition, a whopping 75 percent of nighttime bikers lacked the headlights and reflectors required from dusk to dawn – when almost half of bike fatalities occur, Aiello reports.

From proper equipment to following the rules of the road, it’s clear many New York bike riders fail to deliver what the law requires.

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  • Adam

    I stop at red lights AND at stop signs. I bike the proper direction and in the bike lanes. And I get cut off by cars and cabs who are trying to swerve over to the curb to pick up passengers or are just blocking the lane, and in many cases this means I have to bike into a high speed travel lane where cabbies are doing 40 or 50. I don’t see any outrage about THAT. Oh wait, the corporate media thinks motorists are above the law.

  • Eric

    It seems the reporter failed to mention that cyclist/pedestrian accidents have been reduced by over 50% in 8 years.

  • Holly

    Of course cyclists are behaving badly:

    1.) No one is enforcing the rules
    2.) There is pathetically little community education on what the rules are.

    I am an avid cyclist and I have nearly been knocked into traffic several times by “salmon” in the bike lanes. Please please lets have some officers (on bicycles!) out giving tickets. Businesses that employ cyclists should be fined when their cyclists break the law.

    As long as we have a lack of enforcement, we will have idiots out there making us all look bad and turning public opinion against all cyclists.

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  • AlexB

    Anyone who bike regularly can tell you about the delivery guys blocking the bike lane by going down it the wrong way incredibly slowly with bags of food hanging all over the place. I never really understood why it’s so hard to understand. As someone who bikes regularly, I use bike lanes and go the right way down one way streets. I don’t obey every traffic rules, but I always try to be courteous and not cut anyone off or get in anyone’s way.

  • KE

    I bike to work, my biggest problem in the AM is pedestrians stepping off the sidewalk in the middle of the street without looking, you can see a car in your peripheral vision but not a bike. I go through red lights (Broadway in Finance Dist.) to get ahead of the cars because I feel like if I didn’t I would be squished by a bus. At night my biggest problem is delivery bikes going the wrong way in a street or bike lane; I wouldn’t want to swerve into a car trying to avoid them.

  • MRB

    What a hack-job. They get a quote from a bicyclists who says “we shouldn’t follow traffic laws”. They fail to cite the rate at which cars fail to obey traffic laws.

    Great job guys, keep up the totally worthless work.

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  • J.Q. Public

    Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists equally violate laws. This is just noise, not news.

  • LM

    Hi babe,
    I agree that pedestrians have the right of way. But that doesn’t mean they have the right to be distracted – use cell phones, text, be oblivious to their surroundings, or walk on the BIKE path instead of the sidewalk just because they want to, and then expect everyone else around them to compensate for their stupidity and thoughtlessness. I bike to work daily and always obey traffic laws. Why can’t pedestrians do the same?
    Also, this newscast is so skewed – what about a piece on how dangerous cab drivers are?

  • babe

    One time, a women yelled at me for not paying attention to where i am going while on the sidewalk. She is the one riding her bike on the sidewalk. these biker complain about the cars that don’t watch them, then they complain about the pedistrians not watching them. hey! I bike and i obey they common sense law! the city spent so much money laying down these lanes for bikers and they use the opposite side of the road, wrong way and the side walk! they should be treated like drivers in regualr cars!

  • babe

    Hi Russ, Pedistrians have the right of way!

    • fueled with whisky

      yes pedestrians have the right of way, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have to obey the traffic lights…

    • indoctidiscant

      Hi Babe, not when they are jaywalking.

  • Billy

    The Mayor ruined this city with all the bicycle lanes and making traffic even worse.
    The city has it hard enough having deliveries made to stores, cabs, pedestrians etc.
    These yuppie and elderly bikers should move to somewhere like Montana. Bicyclist have been a hazard as far as I can remember. My own brother was knocked of his butt by some dumb bicycle driving idiot, and he is a fairly big guy.
    Enough already. Doomsberg go back to Boston and take these wheelies with you.

  • Bobby Lee

    I think bike riders are more aware of road rules. Pedistrians. Please set up a camera by Penn Station and the Port Authority to view the commuters taking over the streets as they take the train/bus home. How many drivers…run red lights? I hope that some time in the future….the whole story can be told.

  • Brian

    The law in NYC for jaywalking and bicyclists needs to be changed to a reckless standard. If a pedestrian endangers others by walking down the middle street while texting away or if a cyclist buzzes pedestirans in the cross walk – NYPD should have the discretion to give a ticket. Currently, there is no way for the NYPD to defend the standard for when to give tickets. After all MILLIONS of pedestrians violate the law everyday jaywalking and a few thousand cyclists break laws (mostly in a perfectly safe way) meant for motor vehicles. Also why is CBS promoting such a negative image of a healthy activity based on antidotal evidence ?!?!?

  • T.R.

    I ride my bike at least once a week in this city. True there are some red light runners and bikes that ride the wrong way down streets. But this headline-grabbing series of reports YOU guys have termed “Bike Bedlam” can’t be taken seriously unless you examine the damage inflicited by motor vehicles. For example: did you count the number of cars going thru red lights? The number yielding to pedestrians properly? The number of cars blocking the box? And using a speed gun to measure cyclists biking in Central Park? Did you even think of turning that on cars where about 40% will be well over the city speed limit? AGAIN, this series is a joke.

    Nearly every other day a pedestrian or bicyclist is KILLED in this city by a car. Most by car drivers who not only don’t do jail time but they rarely even get a ticket. Every day I ride my bike I see cars zooming thru red lights and nearly running over pedestrians by not yielding. Tony, after you finish this series, I’d love to see you guys get out of your double-parked news vans and actually see what it is like on the other side. Because double-parking is a matter of life and death to a cyclist.

    Cars threaten pedestrians with death numnerous times of days.

  • Russ

    Okay, granted there are a certain amount of danger from cyclist, but how about do a story about the danger TO cyclist. Just fix a camera to a bike and ride around the city. How many cars cut you off? How many pedestrians walk right in front of you at an intersection when the cyclist has a green light (I’ll tell you right now, if there’s not a car right by my side, its nearly 100% of the time)? If you take a look at these cyclist/pedestrian “close calls” at least 90% time it’ll be from the fact the pedestrians are on their phone/texting/distracted and completely unaware of their surroundings.

    You want cyclist to go the right way in a bike lane all the time? how about designate a lane on every street. Although some have been installed in the past few years, they are still few and far between.

    And I’ll say yes, I am one of those that will stall at a red light, and if there are no oncoming cars or pedestrians, I’ll go through the red light…I’m not harming anyone, and its taking me longer to get to work than a car, so give me a break. Again, I’m the one that’s always aware of my surroundings, unfortunately, rarely the pedestrian is.

  • Jon Swift

    Yeah, of course this series of stories is supposed to be sensationalist. The News “professionals” have to keep up with the likes of Entertaintment Tonight and TMZ these days.

    That being said, folks the truth is that the law in many cities is that bicycles ARE VEHICLES and are therefore governed by traffic laws, including red lights. I love cycling and I wish I could find a way to conveniently commute by bike to work. But I agree with the commentators that many cyclists are just bad news wating to happen.

  • Mike

    Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in NYC for 35 years, but I hardly call this news. It’s been well-known that unlike motorists, cyclists in New York don’t even follow the even the most basic traffic rules (i.e. Red means “Stop,” “One Way” means “One Way,” and sidewalks are for pedestrians, not vehicles.) Yet, cyclists are constantly telling us about how much better and “greener” they are than the rest of us who walk and take the train.

    • Perry

      You’re not being fair in your statement. How often to peds not use crosswalks? How often do driving speed well beyond the speed limit? We’re all in this together. The BIGGEST problem is a complete lack of enforcement of the laws that keep drivers, peds, and cyclist safe.

  • Safe Sidewalk Cyclst

    It is possible for bicyclists and pedestrians and cars, taxis, buses, hansom cabs, motorcycles, scooters, mopeds, segways, firetrucks, delivery trucks, earth-movers, derreks. pushcarts. wheelchairs, even cop cars to coexist, share the roads, sidewalks etc. Common courtesy is the way and that can’t be legislated. It is beneath CBS News to engage in fear-mongering and sensationalism on this pathetic level, or should be. What would Walter think of this week of reports?

    • SideWALK, get it?

      I am an avid cyclist but If I see a cyclist on the sidewalk, I purposely block them.

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