Friday, January 28, 2011

5,746 killed on NYC streets over 15 years. Please make it stop.

Councilman Eric Ulrich

Dear Councilmember Ulrich:

Thank you for dedicating your career to making New York a better place to live and work.

However, I have learned that your office has announced a proposal to mandate bicycle licensing.  Thousands of New Yorkers are likely to be killed and injured by this law, if enacted.  Surely, this is not the consequence you intend.

According to the facts from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the 15 years from 1994 up through 2009, 5,746 people were killed in the five boroughs of New York City in motor vehicle accidents.  Allow me to emphasize that: Five THOUSAND, seven HUNDRED and forty-six.
     Source: The U.S. Department of Transportation's
     National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's
     “Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia” at

Considering that these 5,746 people were killed over a period of _ONLY_ 15 years, the mind boggles to contemplate the thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers who have been killed by our dangerous streets over the decades.

Experts in the field of transportation safety have ample evidence that bicycles and bike lanes create safer streets with fewer accidents to all street users.  The New York City Department of Transportation has
published data showing this is true in New York.

There is also testimony from experts showing that laws which inhibit the wide use of bicycles, such as bicycle licensing and helmet laws, causes a decrease in the number of cyclists (source: Transportation Alternatives).  Since a drop in the number of cyclists creates more dangerous streets for all street users, licensing laws have the unintended effect of increasing mortality -- deaths -- on city streets.

The 5,746 street users who were killed from 1994 through 2009 must not be ignored.  Being dead, they can not write you or your office, or march to City Hall in protest.  But it is a great injustice to forget or ignore them.

How many more New Yorkers must die, before we reach a consensus that safe streets are important, and that, as a community, we should pursue all efforts that create safer streets?

Bicycle licensing will cause fewer people to bike.  Fewer bikes will mean more dangerous streets.  More dangerous streets will mean thousands killed on New York roads.

New York does not need laws that result in deaths.  What we need, are leaders who will support and advance a readily acceptable truth: New Yorkers need laws that result in quality of life improvements.  We need safe streets.

I hope you will agree.

Please retract the proposal for bicycle licensing.  And please support the construction of safe streets and bike lanes.

Thank you for caring about New Yorkers.

Respectfully yours,

Robert Matson
Member: New York Cycle Club and Transportation Alternatives


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Robert Matson
New York City Recumbent Supply (TM)
The Innovation Works, Inc.
copyright 2011 Robert Matson

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