Seventeen cyclists have died in New York this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday, while announcing a $58.4 million plan to enhance bike safety. He said 2018 saw just 10 cyclist deaths in total.
“This has been an extraordinarily painful few weeks,” de Blasio said during a news conference where he held a moment of silence for the victims. Two of bicyclists were fatally struck by trucks on Tuesday, and another cyclist is in critical condition after a crash Wednesday morning, according to reports from the New York Police Department.
The new bike safety plan promises to add 30 miles of protected bike lanes – which put a physical barrier between riders and vehicles – every year, with the goal of reaching 80 miles by 2021, Commissioner Polly Trottenberg of the New York Department of Transportation said Thursday. The city will also hire 80 new staff members dedicated to carrying out these efforts, she said.
Safety efforts will focus on Brooklyn, where most of the 2019 deaths have happened, and increase police enforcement on trucks, which are increasingly a cause of fatal bike crashes, Trottenberg said.
It was a truck that collided with 17-year-old Alex Cordero on Tuesday in Staten Island, according to an NYPD report. The report says Cordero was subsequently pronounced dead at a hospital. The teenager was out biking with some friends that afternoon, his cousin Pablo Cordero told CNN, when the crash occurred.
“The family is devastated,” Pablo said. He said he was “like a big brother” to his cousin and described him as loving, jovial and family-oriented.
Pablo has been riding bikes in New York for more than two decades and had come close to accidents many times. Even so, he said, he wasn’t aware of how big the issue was until tragedy struck his family.
Marco Conner, interim director of the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, told CNN he’d hoped the plan would include automated camera technology that would capture vehicles blocking bike lanes. It doesn’t have that, “but it is a good plan,” Conner said.
A May 2019 report by the city transportation department found that there are 490,000 cycling trips made in a typical day in New York, and Conner said that number is only expected to grow.