Could New Bike Sharing Program Increase New York Bicycle Accidents?

New York bicyclists are familiar with the frustrations and dangers of the city's congested streets. Now, thousands of additional bikes have added to the mix. New York's long-anticipated bike sharing system, the largest in the nation, recently opened with 6,000 distinctive blue bicycles. The system, called Citi Bike, is New York's first new wide-scale public transportation in 75 years.

For new riders, the bike-sharing system means navigating a cacophony of taxis and livery vehicles, buses, trucks, pedestrians and other common hazards of a densely populated city. When the bike system was launched in late May, Mayor Michael Bloomberg encouraged riders to be careful of bicycle accidents, particularly because motorists and pedestrians will need time to adjust to more bikes on the streets. Three days later, a Citi Bike rider received serious injuries when he was struck by an SUV at an intersection.

Serious Injuries From Bike Accidents

Bicycles can be an efficient form of transportation, but they come with a higher risk of serious injuries in an accident. Even when bicyclists are wearing helmets, they lack the protections of a steel frame, seat belts, air bags and other safety mechanisms afforded to occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles. In an accident, the result for a bicyclist can be serious head injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones and death.

The first Citi Bike rider to be injured was trying to beat a traffic light at an intersection when a livery driver struck him, according to The Associated Press. The force of the impact launched the rider over the hood of the SUV and into the windshield. He became one of hundreds of riders who will be injured or killed on New York City streets this year.

In 2011, according to New York City data, 22 riders were killed and 369 riders received severe injuries in bicycle accidents. According to a report, the number of accidents between 2000 and 2011 has remained about the same or only slightly increased despite an increase in bicycle ridership over that period.

Will Citi Bikes Lead To More Accidents?

The bike-sharing program has fueled speculation that adding thousands of bicyclists to city streets could lead to a jump in the number of bicycle injuries and fatalities. One article points out that adding thousands of bikes to New York's already congested streets could increase the potential for accidents. Bicyclists and motorists will have to try to be more aware if we hope to prevent serious accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, including one involving a Citi Bike, an experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and help determine whether you may be entitled to money damages.

"Bicyclists also should be aware that if they are involved in an accident involving a motor vehicle, they will usually be entitled to no-fault benefits, which can cover medical expenses, lost earnings and other expenses," said D. Carl Lustig III of the New York law firm Arye, Lustig & Sassower, P.C. "However, there are short time limits for obtaining such benefits, so it is a good idea to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible."