In a previous blog we discussed how bicycling is growing in popularity across the U.S. This is especially true in urban cities and is attributed to an increase in ridership among middle-aged Americans. Unfortunately, as the number of people commuting via bicycle has increased, so too has the number of individuals who are injured or killed in motor vehicle and bicycle accidents.
In cases where a bicyclist is hit by or involved in a collision with a large truck, the likelihood of suffering serious or fatal injuries increases exponentially. While adding and making bike lanes more visible can improve the overall safety of New York City bicyclists, large trucks still pose a major safety threat to both bicyclists and pedestrians.
This past June, as part of the city's Vision Zero initiative, Mayor Bill de Blasio took action to reduce the number of truck and bicycle accidents when he signed a bill known as Intro.198-A, into law. The bill requires that "all large vehicles in the city's fleet and all trade waste hauling vehicles...install side guards by January 1, 2024.”
While laws requiring the use of side guards on large trucks were passed and implemented years ago in many other countries, federal regulators in the U.S. have failed to do so. What's more, New York City is only the second city, behind Boston, to pass such a law. Lack of a federal mandate on the use of side guards is troubling considering that large trucks pose the most safety hazards to bicyclists and pedestrians.
In fact, in New York City, the U.S. Department of Transportation reports that trucks are cited in contributing to and causing more than 12 percent of pedestrian and 32 percent of bicyclist fatalities. These statistics are especially troubling considering that trucks account for less than four percent of the city's overall traffic.
Source: Streetsblog.org, "De Blasio Signs Bill Requiring Side Guards on 10,000 Trucks by 2024," Stephen Miller, June 17, 2015
NYC.gov, "Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Create Office of Civil Justice," June 16, 2015