$1 Million Bike Safety Campaign Looks To Curb Collisions
September 18, 2007
NEW YORK — City officials announced a $1 million bicycle safety campaign Tuesday intended to reduce the number of car-bike crashes by getting drivers and cyclists to watch out for each other. “Collisions happen when either motorists or cyclists are not paying attention,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city’s transportation commissioner. “If we’re going to get more people out of their cars and onto their bikes, we need to make the system as safe as it can be.”
Sadik-Khan joined bike advocates and representatives of other city departments to announce a public service campaign that will appear on bus shelters, kiosks and in print and broadcast spots. “We want to beg drivers, insist that they share the road with bicyclists,” said Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum. “And that they’re fair. And that they look in their mirrors and make sure that when they see a bicyclist they slow down a little.”
The campaign was created pro bono by the ad agency Publicis. “Avoiding a crash comes down to one simple action,” one ad reads. “Look.”
A study released by the city last year found that 225 cyclists were killed and nearly 3,500 injured by cars between 1996 and 2003. Sadik-Khan said that 300 cyclists were seriously injured last year, 94 percent of them due to inattention or failure to follow traffic signs.
In addition to the ad campaign, the city is aiming to boost bicycle ridership by adding bike lanes and giving away thousands of free helmets. Nearly 70 miles of bike lanes have been installed citywide this year.
Bike advocates said they hoped the public service campaign would prod drivers to share the road. “A lot of cars will honk at you and be like ‘Get off the road. Get on the sidewalk,”‘ said Sarinya Srisakul, vice president of the New York Bike Messenger Foundation. “Or they’ll just cut you off without looking.” Barbara Ross, a spokeswoman for Time’s Up, which promotes a monthly group bike ride called Critical Mass, praised the city’s efforts but said the police need to ticket cars that park in bike lanes. “It’s fantastic to have all these bike lanes but if there are cars parked in the bike lanes then it’s not going to do much good,” she said.