While roadway improvements have made biking safer in the tri-state area, in many places bikers must still take their lives into their own hands when they ride. In particular, bicyclists on Long Island have a much higher fatality rate than most others in the tri-state region. A recent Newsday article highlights the dangers of biking in Long Island, noting that “the bicycle crash death rate on Long Island far exceeds that of New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.”
A TSTC analysis of bike fatalities from 2007-2009 in the twelve counties in downstate New York tells a similar story. It shows that Long Island’s bike fatality rate is 1.54 times greater than the downstate region’s rate. Looking at the individual counties, Suffolk County tops the list, while Brooklyn and Nassau counties come in second and third respectively.
|Rank||Region||Average yearly population, 2007-2009||Average yearly bicyclist fatalities, 2007-2009||Average yearly bicyclist fatality rate per 100,000, 2007-2009|
|5||New York City||8,349,629.00||19.67||0.24|
|7||New York County||1,628,634.67||3.67||0.23|
*Population is average population from 2007-2009. Bike fatality rate rounded to nearest tenth. Sources: Census Bureau and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s FARS database.
Advocates pointed to a lack of bicycle infrastructure, as well as roads like Hempstead Turnpike and Route 25/25A, which were designed to speed cars through neighborhoods without accommodating the needs of walkers and bikers. From Newsday:
Bicyclists and transportation advocates say Long Island needs safer routes for cyclists, including more bike lanes and uninterrupted shoulders.
“Without the bike infrastructure, without the pedestrian infrastructure, there’s a dangerous environment for all people who are using the roads, including drivers,” said Ryan Lynch, senior planner for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
New York State’s Complete Streets legislation, which passed the State Assembly and Senate this June and is awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature, would help protect bicyclists across the state by making sure that major road projects consider all users of the road – from cars to pedestrians to bicyclists.
Newsday also noted that Hispanic residents were disproportionately represented in bicycle crashes. In Suffolk County, workers “often need to get to work either by bicycle or on foot since public transportation is inadequate,” Rev. Allan B. Ramirez of Brookville Reformed Church told the paper. Potential transit cuts in Nassau County could exacerbate this problem.
Editor note: This post was updated in October 2013.