A long safe-riding streak has come to an end. After more than four years and 43 million trips since New York’s Citi Bike system debuted, the system saw its first fatality Monday morning.
The New York Post identified the victim as a 36-year-old investment banker. Police sources said the man was struck by a bus on 26th Street near 8th Avenue as he was riding between a moving coach bus and a parked car around 8:20 a.m. He reportedly lost control of the bike, fell to the ground, and was run over by the bus. He was pronounced dead two hours later.
“Together with the City of New York, we wish to express our heartfelt condolences to the rider's family and loved ones on this terrible tragedy,” writes Motivate spokeswoman Dani Simons. Motivate operates the Citi Bike system, with 10,000 bikes and 603 stations. The system makes up roughly 40 percent of the total bike-share trips in the country.
Bike share, in general, has had an impressive safety record. This is only the second fatality since since modern systems launched in the U.S. in 2010. (The first occurred last July in Chicago when a cyclist collided with a flatbed truck.) In that time, there have been more than 102 million bike-share trips. Compare that to the 17 cyclists killed by motorists last year in New York City alone. But Kate Fillin-Yeh, the director of strategy at the National Association of City Transportation Officials, says to consider those numbers in the context of how many more cyclists there are on the road today.
“When you consider [the number of cyclists] has increased four-fold over [the last two decades], it is a 72 percent reduction in risk,” she says. “The number of cyclists killed each year stays within those low numbers and it is so much safer than it used to be, a testament to the infrastructure that has been built to create bike networks.”
Fillin-Yeh previously worked at New York City’s Department of Transportation. She also designed and implemented Citi Bike as its director and was the lead author of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero Action Plan.
“Fundamentally, bike share brings an overwhelming amount of good to cities,” she says. “This is a tragedy and it points to the fact that we have to keep doing our best to make sure cities are safe places for people.”