New York - Record Rise in Bike Accidents in 2010
New York - There's been an alarming 16 percent spike in vehicle and bicycle collisions over the past year that investigators blame in large part on rogue cyclists who have turned city streets into demolition derbies.
There have been 3,830 accidents involving bicycles, including 12 fatal ones, so far this year, compared to 3,294 in 2009, city statistics show. The East Village and Downtown Brooklyn have the most accident-prone intersections.
"This was a catastrophe in the making as soon as they put those bike lanes up around the city," said a cop in the East Village, the epicenter of collisions even with several bike-only lanes.
"They are arrogant. They think they now own the road and think they can do no wrong," the officer said. "Some even yell at police cars saying they have the right of way."
Other danger spots include both sides of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges.
"It's crazy. The volume of traffic, careless bicyclists and too many turns in too many directions is a recipe for disaster," said a traffic-accident investigator. "Most times they don't obey [laws] and that leads to chaos."
Commercial drivers say they live in fear of hitting bikers.
"Man, it's a pain because they truly think they can just do whatever they want to do," said Manny Sosa, a UPS driver for 15 years.
Some 17,500 people commute daily by bike -- up from 8,500 in 2006, according to the Department of Transportation.
"We have too many bicyclists that are bad actors, so to speak. Too many bicyclists don't obey the rules," said Councilman Jimmy Vacca (D-Bronx), chairman of the Transportation Committee. "If they don't, they deserve a ticket just like any driver."
Cops handed cyclists 29,545 tickets in 2010, compared to 27,555 last year.
Bikers, however, blamed drivers for the rise in accidents.
"I get hit in some fashion probably every couple of weeks," said Chris Gewecke, a bike messenger. "I'll get 'doored' or something by someone getting out of a cab or a truck. They just don't see you sometimes, or they don't care."