New Rule Allows Cyclists to Use Pedestrian Signals for Safety

Pedestrian "stop" signal with text

When we discuss bicyclists on New York City streets, we often emphasize the motto of “share the road,” suggesting that automobiles and cyclists must share the street and be aware of one another to prevent bicycle accidents. It follows, then, that bicyclists who are riding alongside automobiles are more like cars or trucks than pedestrians on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk. However, according to a recent article in StreetsBlog NYC, a new rule allows bicyclists to use pedestrian signals in order to reduce the rate of collisions between cyclists and automobiles.

More specifically, bicyclists in New York will now be able to take advantage of the leading pedestrian interval (LPI), which is a signal through which “people on foot have a range of 7 to 11 seconds to cross before drivers may proceed through the intersection or make turns through crosswalks.” If you spend any amount of time as a driver or a pedestrian in Manhattan or Brooklyn, you should be familiar with the LPI, even if you did not know what it was called. In brief, it gives pedestrians lead time to cross the street before a motor vehicle gets a green light. Accordingly, the LPI reduces collisions between pedestrians and automobiles and resulting pedestrian vehicle accidents. Now bicyclists will also be able to have the safety benefits of LPIs.

This is part of a new pilot program developed by the New York City Department of Transportation in conjunction with bicycling safety advocates in the city. Bicyclists will be able to use LPIs at 50 different intersections in the city, giving them extra time to get across the street before automobiles are allowed to proceed. The pilot program will run until October 2018, at which time city officials will collect data on the incidents of bicycle accident injuries and collisions to determine whether LPIs for cyclists should become permanent. Those in favor of the program contend that the data will show the following: “Using LPIs to get ahead of drivers at dangerous intersections will keep riders safe, will not burden pedestrians, and will not otherwise cause harm.” Other major cities already provide bicyclists with a head start, including Washington, D.C.

Tips for Staying Safe and Avoiding Pedestrian Motor Vehicle Accidents While Bicycling on City Streets

In addition to relying on LPIs to avoid collisions with motorists, what else can city bicyclists do to stay safe? An article in U.S. News & World Report recommends the following:

  • Always be mindful of sharing the road with motorists and pedestrians;
  • Ensure that your bike is in good working order, especially your brakes and bike chain, and make sure that your tires are properly inflated;
  • Wear a helmet whenever you ride your bicycle;
  • Replace worn or damaged headgear, in particular, a helmet that has been involved in a crash or is otherwise cracked (safety advocates recommend replacing your bike helmet every five to eight years);
  • Have intact reflectors on your bike;
  • Install bicycle lights to ensure that you are seen by motorists;
  • Consider investing in a hybrid bicycle, which can handle rougher city streets with potholes;
  • Never drink alcohol before riding your bicycle;
  • Do not get distracted while you are riding, whether that means distractions from podcasts or music to cognitive distractions such as stray thoughts;
  • Never wear headphones—you want to be able to hear sirens and motorized traffic;
  • Obey all traffic rules;
  • To prevent “dooring,” ride with a significant space between yourself and parked cars; and
  • Plan out your route ahead of time.

If you or someone you love was injured in a bicycle accident, an experienced bicycle accident lawyer may be able to help.

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