A new safety rule could let NYC bike riders follow pedestrian rules at stop lights

By Virginia K. Smith  | October 28, 2016 - 3:59PM

A new bill proposes making cyclists safer by giving them the same head start on cars at traffic lights that's currently given to pedestrians, the New York Post reports, a measure known as the "leading pedestrian interval." How it works: The "walk" sign turns green a few seconds before the signal used by cars, allowing pedestrians to enter crosswalks—and crucially, become visible to drivers—before any cars start to turn into the walkway.

The bill was introduced by City Council member Carlos Menchaca, who writes, "This bill would establish that bicyclists crossing a roadway at an intersection must follow pedestrian control signals when local law, rule or regulation provides that those signals supersede traffic control signals. However, bicyclists will be required to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk."

As Gothamist points out, some studies have shown that that use of LPIs improves pedestrian safety by up to 60 percent, the kind of boost the city could sorely use to improve its notoriously poor track record on pedestrian and cyclist safety. "The number one place where crashes occur is at intersections where drivers are making a turn into the path where the cyclist is going straight,"  bike advocate Doug Gordon told the Post. "A few seconds head start to get in front of the drivers will keep cyclists safe."

The bill is also being sponsored by six other council members, and if it passes, will require a change to the city's administrative code (rather than approval from Albany).

More immediately, as the weather turns darker, and colder, the Times reports that the Mayor's office is rolling out a new "dusk and darkness" campaign warning drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike to be more careful on city streets with decreased light and visibility. "To meet our ambitious Vision Zero goals, especially during the more dangerous reality of this season’s evenings and nights, we have focused our efforts even further," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "Our key Vision Zero agencies have teamed up to not only study crash data, but to work closely together and make critical adjustments that we believe will literally save lives."

Whether you're on foot, riding a bike, or behind the wheel, consider this a reminder to keep a closer eye out than usual.


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