NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new plan aimed at improving street safety in the city will likely face speed bumps. The city council speaker wants more protected bike lanes, but drivers say more bikes will increase traffic problems.
“I want a city where getting around doesn’t make you insane,” City Speaker Corey Johnson said.
Johnson, along with transportation safety groups and bike lane advocates, are stumping for a proposed bill they claim will improve traffic, protect cyclists and pedestrians, and save lives.
The idea is called “Streets Master Plan” and it would add 50 miles of protected bike lanes and 30 miles of bus lanes in the city every year.
“We’ll do it in a way that prioritizes mass transit over automobiles and people over cars,” Johnson said.
The idea comes as statistics from the group Traffic Alternatives shows a steep uptick in cyclist deaths.
There have been 21 so far this year compared to 10 in all of 2018.
While advocates say the move is a safety-first initiative, many drivers CBS2 spoke to say they are against it.
They believe more bikes and bike lanes would cause greater congestion and only make things worse.
“Take the bike out of the city. This city not for bike. They make a lot of accidents,” Naser Yanes said.
“There too many bikes of the street. They’re gonna be dangerous,” Mohammed Aly added.
“How dangerous is it for you as a biker right now?” CBS2’s Scott Rapoport asked a cyclist.
“Well I should be wearing a helmet,” Louis Garcia Maldonado admitted.
With much of the focus of Johnson’s bill on protecting cyclists. CBS2 asked the speaker about his position on mandatory helmets.
“Do you support requiring Citi Bike riders to wear helmets for safety?” Rapoport asked.
“No absolutely not… Because if you require helmets you’ll have much fewer people riding bikes across New York City,” Johnson replied.
“But if the concern is for safety isn’t it almost a no brainer helmets keep cyclists safe?” Rapoport countered.
“If you look at the studies they’ll show you it’s not a no brainer,” Johnson argued.
“Not to be truculent, but if a cyclist gets hit, falls and lands on his head isn’t it logical a helmet is gonna help him?” Rapoport continued to press Johnson.
“We want people to wear helmets. Requiring them to wear helmets is a totally different thing,” Johnson added.
The speaker maintains the bike lane-bus lane plan is the way to go and that he will try to bring it to a vote.