As reported recently in the Daily News, 11 cyclists have been killed this year in New York City, making this the most lethal first quarter for cyclists in a decade.
The most recent fatality involved a 16-year-old on an electric City Bike killed in a hit-and-run on 21st Avenue in Astoria, Queens. 21st Avenue is known to the Transportation Department as a “priority corridor,” a street or intersection that sees a disproportionate share of pedestrian injuries or death.
The executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an organization founded 50 years ago with the mission to reclaim NYC streets and prioritize the needs of pedestrians and cyclists, demanded the city do more to stem the tide of traffic deaths. He asserted there’s been a steep rise in hit-and-runs in all five boroughs.
Of the 11 cyclist deaths this year, seven were e-bike deaths.
E-bike boom during the global health crisis
E-bikes are a relative newcomer to the transportation modality mix. It was as of November 23, 2020, that Class 1-3 e-bikes were allowed in NYC.
This was the first year of the lockdown. Nationwide, there were major lifestyle changes among Americans, which included a huge surge in demand for food, grocery and other delivery services. Essential workers were pushed to the hilt.
Enter the e-bike.
There’s been exponential development in the industry, but it hasn’t been without its thorny issues which include fire safety and equity. Recently, there’s been a spate of deadly fires attributed to problem batteries and dangerous charging practices.
There’s also the untenable, harsh reality that higher quality e-bike models might be out of reach for low-income workers.
Bottom line: this zero-emissions transit option is here to stay, even as there’s a lot of work to be done to make it truly viable.