After the 26th Cyclist Death in ‘23, Hundreds of Bikers Rally for Safer Streets

On Oct. 11, cyclists rode from Union Square to City Hall to demand safer streets from the Adams administration, claiming the city is lagging behind safe street goals. A day later, Mayor Adams unveiled a Greenway plan that proposes 40 miles of new bike lanes.

| 18 Oct 2023 | 11:36

On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 11, hundreds of cyclists rode down Broadway Avenue, chanting, “Eric Adams, no more deaths!” They were making their way from Union Square to City Hall, where 26 white bike helmets lay on the ground, representing the cyclists who have died in traffic incidents across the city this year.

The rally, organized by the non-profits Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, was a call for Mayor Adams’ administration to improve street safety for cyclists and pedestrians. There have been 26 cyclist deaths caused by vehicle crashes this year — the highest annual cyclist death toll since 1999. Three of the fatal incidents occurred in Manhattan, according to NYPD collision data accessed via the NYC Crash Mapper. One of the cyclists was 18-year-old Malcolm Livesey, who was struck by an Amazon truck while riding a Citi Bike e-bike near Stuyvesant Town.

Advocates say that these deaths could have been prevented by safe street infrastructure. Attendees of the Oct. 11 rally criticized Adams for what they described as a continual failure to protect cyclists and pedestrians from traffic violence. In an open letter to the mayor, released after the rally, advocates called for the fast-tracking of the NYC Streets Plan, which includes the reduction of traffic-caused injuries and deaths through street safety and improvement projects.

The NYC Streets Plan, which the Department of Transportation is required by local law to implement, includes the construction of 250 miles of protected bike lanes by the end of 2026. According to a progress tracker created by Transportation Alternatives, just 13.5 miles of protected bike lanes have been installed this year — 27% of the 50-mile benchmark for 2023. Aside from lagging behind its Streets Plan targets, the Adams administration has also been criticized for rolling back several improvement projects for streets that are known to be unsafe, as reported by Streetsblog.

“While this plan outlines a hopeful and safe path forward for New York City, we are also gravely concerned that the City continues to miss its goals, and appalled that the administration is actively rolling back essential street improvement projects that have already been approved. Reversing, diminishing, or even just delaying these projects will only cause more death and injuries to families across the five boroughs,” says the advocates’ open letter to the mayor.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, Mayor Adams launched a greenway expansion plan that promises to build 40 miles of protected bike infrastructure throughout the five boroughs. At a press conference that day, when asked about the increase in cyclist deaths, Adams seemed to place some of the responsibility on the cyclists. “As I’m riding through the city, I’m watching, you know, some of my fellow riders not adhering to some of the traffic safety rules that are in place. The same rules that are for vehicles are for cyclists as well,” the New York Daily News reported him saying.

Citywide rates of people who cycle have increased year over year, according to a 2021 report from the DOT. It estimates that approximately 20,859 people commute to work by bike daily in Manhattan.

In a video of the Oct. 11 rally created by Streetfilms, a group that makes educational short films about sustainable transportation, a cyclist references Adams’ close call in the 2021 mayoral Democratic primary election: “I would urge the mayor to remember that he only won by 7,000 votes, and there’s a lot more people that ride bikes here than 7,000 people.”