DOT Apologizes For Reporting False Bike Accident Info

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A pedestrian safety advocate is outraged after New York City released inaccurate information about pedestrian injuries caused by bike riders.

The anger came in response to last week’s “Bike Bedlam” series on CBS 2, reports Tony Aiello.

When she lost her husband, Nancy Gruskin gained a mission.

“I’m not here to say, ‘take the bikes of the road,’ not here to say biking isn’t great,” Gruskin said.

Her mission is a foundation dedicated to safe streets in the city. Last year, Gruskin’s husband, Stuart, suffered a fatal head injury when a bicycle rider plowed into him.

Two days after CBS 2 featured Gruskin in the “Bike Bedlam” reports, the city Department of Transportation releases statistics claiming pedestrian injuries in crashes with cyclists plummeted 62 percent since 2001.

Now, though, the DOT is backpedaling, admitting the numbers it released were wrong.

It turns out those numbers have nothing to do with bike vs. pedestrian accidents – they’re from motor vehicle accidents in which bikers and pedestrians were also injured.

When bikes hit pedestrians, no agency collects the incident reports or analyzes them.

Gruskin said she knew that, but the DOT apparently did not.

“It’s an outrage, because it’s all about pedestrian safety, and how can you ensure pedestrian safety if you can’t ensure accurate numbers?” Gruskin said.

On Friday, the DOT told CBS 2 they “regret this error and any confusion it may have caused.”

The city is seeking to improve data collection to be as responsive as possible to all traffic safety issues.

When Gruskin wrote the mayor last year to ask for help with bicycle safety, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan replied with a form letter – it was addressed to Gruskin’s dead husband, Stuart.

“How much more could you be kicked in the stomach?” Gruskin said. “That’s exactly how I felt when I opened the letter from the Department of Transportation.”

Gruskin wrote again this week, and hopes her letter is treated with more respect this time.

Gruskin wants to meet with the DOT commissioner to discuss ways the city could collect accurate statistics on bicycle vs. pedestrian accidents.

  • Jackie

    More power to you, Nancy! It’s sad that a pedestrian had to lose their life in a collision with a bike, in order for this serious safety issue to be highlighted. I have nothing against bikes – I ride one myself, in NYC’s parks – but they do NOT belong on city streets. The city’s transportation commissioner Sadik Khan is horribly biased and as she does not have to answer to anyone, she has implemented these horrendous bike lanes all over NYC that have slowed traffic down even more, endangered pedestrian safety and led to an increasingly outraged population that is held hostage by a miniscule proportion that ride bikes on the streets!

  • marybeth

    let’s start the dialogue. there’s safety measures in place, now let’s enforce them. i got this poster of it’s good. check it out:
    we ca

  • m saltzman

    Great article. I hope DOT or some other City agency starts collecting the right statistics. The problem of pedestrian safety can’t be solved without it. Biking is great, but not if it is a hazard to pedestrians.

  • Jack Brown

    Why Commissioner Sadik Khan ignored the hard date of Prof.Peter Tuckel’s study “:Biking Behavior in Midtown” and fabircated stats to support DOT’s agenda needed exposure. This quality of life and death issue has been allowed to fester and swell to deplorable proportions.The NYPD has NOT been allowed to do its job.of enforcement. There has been a wanton disregard for public safety.Thankyou for exposing the rot at the core of the issue.

  • Gary Sebastian

    It makes one wonder if the “cooked numbers” were done intentionally. It seems that the DOT, and politicians involved in city planning, as well, as local laws would benefit by the “cooked numbers”. Making the numbers lower might give one the impression that these officials are doing their job well, which in turn lead to being re-elected into their perspective offices. It may also benefit the politicians by using the ” low incident numbers” to make politicians and citizens feel that enough money has been spent on safety, being the “numbers” are now lower, and can be allocated somewhere else. Even if these thoughts aren’t the case, how do you release statistics with out having them proof read before publication?!!! Not only has the DOT failed in educating people in what is an atrocious occurrence in daily commuter practices, but they have shot themselves in the foot. How will people believe anything they say if they can’t even ensure that facts they have published? My heart goes out to the Gruskin family for what they have been through. It gives me light hope for our society that someone who is still grieving, still trying to gather up the pieces of what was once a wonderful family, to be there for her children, and with all that, go to great strides to make NYC a safer place for people she doesn’t even know. Shame on the DOT and all involved for such a mistake. All Nancy Krusch wants is for people to learn the truth, so that people will learn to act more responsibly towards one another. Hats of to Tony Aiello for his piece on the matter of safety, and our Governments blunders. G-D help us!

  • Susan

    It’s amazing that there are not more accidents in NYC (and other cities as well). If you aren’t constantly watching where you are going and taking precautions while walking around, you are taking your life into your hands. Kudos to Ms. Gruskin for being so vigilant on this issue. What happened to her family can never be changed, but at least she is doing something to lessen and hopefully prevent these tragedies such as these from happening to others. I know that I for one will be very interested to see what the near future brings after this series and her efforts to bring about positive change.

  • Jane

    Thank you for reporting on this important issue. I was in NY yesterday and was horrified by the number of bikers who were running red lights and not paying attention to pedestrians. The laws need to be improved and enforced!

  • Nancy Linday

    Nancy Gruskin and her family have paid the ultimate price for the unconscionable approach Bloomberg and Sadik-Kahn have taken to ramming bicycle lanes through New York City at any cost. I am profoundly grateful for her courageous leadership on this life and death issue.

    Cyclists do not show any understanding that the “Rules of the Road” apply to them. They behave as though they have an “entitlement” to ride wherever they want, however they want. And the truth is—they are right. This is exactly what Bloomberg and Sadik-Kahn have done.

    New York City used to be a town for walking. The greatest joy to be had was to step outside your door and stroll all over town. You owned the city—and it didn’t cost you a cent.

    Not any more. Step outside your door now and it could cost you your life. Forget about strolling around. You have to look all around you even while you walking on the sidewalk—just to make sure you won’t be clipped by a cyclist.

    Forget about the corners. Curb cuts for the disabled now belong to cyclists, who fly up them and ride directly to the bike racks placed in front of buildings.

    Crossing the street? Don’t even think that you are safe in a crosswalk when you have the light. Cyclists are riding through lights, as well as riding against the traffic, turning without signaling, and turning against the traffic (without signaling, naturally).

    Think bike lanes will make your walking safer? Think again. Cyclists do not stop at the lights in bike lanes, not even when extra lights have been specifically installed for them.

    Bloomberg and Sadik-Kahn have destroyed the quality of life for pedestrians in New York City. They must be stopped. The Rules of the Road must be enforced, and The Rules of the Sidewalk must be made the law.

    Pedestrians must own our city again.

  • Ken Lidmer

    If its wasn’t for Nancy Gruskin’s pushing to get this situation corrected, many more people would be at risk. Thanks to her and Tony Aiello the real facts are starting to emerge. Now let’s enforce bike safety rules of the road.

  • Rich S.

    Although I no longer work in Manahattan, it’s incredulous that these unsafe conditions continue to peril pedestrians. Hopefully ongoing reports by CBS and Nancy Gruskin’s tireless efforts will promote positve legislation protecting pedestians against unsafe cyclists.

  • Stu Widom

    Shame on you Commissioner Sadik-Khan! You have an obligation to collect valid and meaningful data that can be used to develop public policies that will protect our citizens. Stuart Gruskin’s death was a tragedy that could have been prevented if sound public laws, rules and enforcement were in place.
    Thank you Tony for such an informative piece.

  • Stephen B.

    Great reporting by Tony. Keep up the good work and the pressure on DOT.

  • Todd

    Great report. This is an underreported issue that needs to be addressed if the city is going to be a safe place to work and live.
    Nancy for DOT commish.

  • marybeth

    i was hit by a cyclist who was riding on the sidewalk. i was 7 months pregnant. let’s get serious about these seriously dangerous riders. green, and safe.

  • Anonymous

    How horrible that a senseless tragedy is further compounded by the seeming disregard and blatant disrespect that the DOT just ‘issued’ to the Gruskin family. Mr. Gruskin’s death was a result of the city’s failure to better police bicycle riders and protect pedestrians. By publishing false data, the city basically said that Mr. Gruskin’s death was an anomaly and that the forfeiture of his life doesn’t matter. They are stating that something has been done to correct the issue at hand; when in fact, the opposite is true. Nancy Gruskin is attempting to do something to protect the people of New York City. She is demanding accountability and action to prevent other senseless tragedies from occurring. Why must the Department of Transportation and by further extension, the City of New York attempt to make her appear in the wrong? Take action and accept responsibility for the problem instead of attempting to sugarcoat the facts with false data and lies. Pass a law that will protect everyone on the city streets and show that you are listening.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    Finally—– After at least 15 near misses a week in midtown and a very good friend being knocked down while 7 months pregnant by a cyclist going the wrong way down the street, CBS has proven what I have always known— that the DOT has been providing us crap stats for years… Thank you to Tony Aiello and the Gruskin Foundation for exposing this horrible situation… Stay on it!!

  • A Concerned Citizen

    Finally!! After nearly 15 near misses a week and very good friend being knocked down by a wrong way bicycle rider (who was NOT a delivery cyclist!) while 7 months pregnant, CBS has exposed what I have always known— that it is crap stats that the DOT has been furnishing us all this time… Thank you to Tony Aiello and the Gruskin Foundation for exposing this travesty. PLEASE stay on top of it for all our sakes!

  • robert shinbein

    Nancy should be appointed the the board to keep then honest, fair and safe so this tradegy does not keep repeating.

  • marilyn shinbein

    I agree preasure has to be hard on the DOT and appoint Nancy Gruskin to the board and then maybe things will be reported correctly and the law enforced properly

  • Lynne B

    Nancy has done an amazing job in taking a tragedy and turning it into something positive. Her foundation will help her have strength in numbers so that things can be reported in the proper way. Unfortunately, Stuart is gone, but he is so proud of Nancy and her family fighting for what they believe in,

  • Francine Pipik

    It is always sad that it takes tragedy to bring attention to existing problems. Congratulations to Nancy for having the courage to fight for her convictions and for honoring Stuart by doing so.

  • Dump DOT Commish!

    Big props go to Ms. Gruskin and Tony A. for this expose’. The arrogant DOT Commish Sadik-Khan and Bloomberg have shown themselves to be wholly insensitive to community input when it comes to public safety again – an apology was the very least they could do in the Gruskin case. The DOT Commish is out of touch!!

  • Truth be Told

    This is not the first time the DOT has “cooked the numbers”. Two years ago, they finally released the results of a $570K study regarding the number of government issued parking permits in the New York Times as 70,000 when in fact the true numbers were twice as many or 140,000. This correction was made only under protest from the Chinatown community and no apology was issued.

    Our deepest appreciation to Nancy Gruskin, the Stuart Gruskin Family Foundation and WCBSTV’s Tony Aeillo for your tremendous advocacy.

  • Cobble HIll

    The DOT Commissioner replied to Mrs. Gruskin’s letter – by sending a form letter to her dead husband??? That is simply pathetic. The City of New York owes Mrs. Gruskin an apology, and I hope the Mayor gives the DOT Commissioner a serious dressing down. What a terrible terrible thing for Mrs Gruskin to go through.

  • Sheila Schwartzman

    Kudos ato Nancy Gruskin ad Tony Aeillo for reporting on reckless bicycling in NYC. Keep the pressure on the DOT and continue reporting and informing the public about this recklessness.

  • Rachel

    I applaud Tony Aiello for this excellent and timely story and for pursuing the truth about the grave lack of statistics re: pedestrian and bicycle incidents in NYC. Every day pedestrians are injured, suffer near misses or are simply frightened by reckless bicyclists. I strongly support cycling for recreation and even as an excellent alternative to the use of motor vehicles but ONLY when there is appropriate enforcement of regulations that protect the pedestrians. Kudos to Nancy Gruskin and the Gruskin Foundation for the hard work and relentless efforts to have a positive impact in our great city.

  • Malina

    I can’t tell you how may times I have been nearly clipped, or how many people I know that HAVE been clipped by a racing cyclist going in the wrong direction. I used to joke about how we NYers shouldn’t worry so much about as the taxi cabs as we should about the bikers! It’s not funny anymore.
    Bicycles are a good thing for exercise, recreation and “going green”. This is about SAFETY, and common sense when riding a bicycle. What happened to Stuart Gruskin is a tragedy. He was a wonderful husband and father who loved life, and sports and his family. I would know, as he as my cousin. All he was doing was heading home to his family after a hard day’s work. This did not have to happen.
    Support, and way to go Nancy for your efforts!

  • Laura

    Why can’t the city and organizations like Nancy’s promote a biker and pedestrian safety program on an ongoing basis?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Tony A. for being upfront on such an important issue as pedestrian safety. It’s time we were given the real statistics on bicyclists in NYC so changes can be made in the near future. Let’s make sure that the unspeakable tragedy of Stuart C. Gruskin is not repeated with another innocent victim. Supporting the is a good place to begin

  • Bud Fleet

    Appoint Nancy to the DOT board. Conditions would greatly improve foe bicycle safety.

  • Stephanie Goldberg

    It is appalling that statistics aren’t kept for a matter as important as this. The first step to safer streets is to have an accurate record on what’s happened in the past. Thank you for this wonderful report, it shed some light on a subject that’s gone unnoticed for way to long.

  • arlene krusch

    serious changes are in order to promote pedestrian safety. thanks to tony aeillo and nancy gruskin for this wonderful attempt to promote safety

  • Linda Cohn

    Bicycles are vehicles. They’re metal, they’re fast, and they’re only as safe as the driver in charge. Good stats first, then good policy and good enforcement.

  • Marsha

    It is about time the press looked objectively at this issue rather than the usual pandering given to the “green” speak spouted by DOT and TA. People have complained about the stealth nature of bicycles for years and it is only getting worse as they become the new privileged class in NY. As soon as the finger is pointed at them, the reflexive response is for bicyclists to point it back to cars and pedestrians. The fact is that the stealth nature and unpredictability of bikes creates anxiety. I am not a statistic, yet I am constantly fearful of where a bicycle might be approaching from and it has taken away some of the joy of walking.

    Further, this study proves what others have believed all along – that DOT manufactures data to serve its purposes. The wholesale change in the fabric of the traffic patterns has made NYC a chaotic mess. This “green” mayor has allowed so much development that the needs for 4 wheeled transport has increased dramatically. These bicyclists are NOT getting out of their cars, they are just additions to the mess on the roads. Like it or not, there is a great need for this city to work and all of this “calming” is creating gridlock everywhere. The next brainstorm of closing down parts of 34th Street is one of the most fiscally irresponsible ideas of all time.

    Thank you, Tony Aiello, for speaking up for the silent majority and to Nancy Gruskin for turning her unspeakable tragedy in a positive direction.

  • Nancy

    The website was left out..…..

  • Nancy Gruskin

    I encourage anyone who has had an injury with a bicycle, a near miss, or just concerned about this issue to visit our Stuart C. Gruskin Family Foundation website.. The site will be changing in the next couple of weeks to be more interactive, but in the meantime, please feel free to leave a message on our Blog Page… Many, many thanks to Tony Aiello for uncovering this outrageous situation.. We are poised now to make some serious changes with regard to pedestrian safety.

  • Ronnie from Morris Park

    The pro bike dump cars Billionaireberg boot licker Janette Sadik-Khan is a disgrace.
    They lie about traffic congestion caused by the Times Square road block.They ignore community input on where and where not to put bike lanes. Now again they spin numbers to make their plan look great when its not. Fire her lying butt.


    Almost every biker i have met has broken the law,,,the cut and one biker almost hit me because he was riding on the pedestrian walk.

    there has to me better control over bikers.

    • john

      First the NYPD was caught fudging numbers on crime at the 81st precinct, now DOT is submitting false numbers on bike accidents. The Bloomberg administration seems to have a monopoly on delivering false information to the public. I have never come close to being hit by a car or truck, but almost daily have to duck unruly cyclists and they are not just delivery people or bike messengers.

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