New law gives cyclists head start at intersections

Getting the green light: A new law will allow cyclists to get ahead of motorists at intersections, biking with pedestrian crosslights before the cars beside them can go.
Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn bikers are getting the green light!

The City Council passed a law on Tuesday allowing cyclists to follow pedestrian signals — before traffic lights turn green — at thousands of New York City intersections, giving them a seven to 11-second head start on motorists.

The law will affect about 1,300 intersections in Brooklyn and more than 4,000 intersections citywide, or wherever traffic signals are set to provide a “Leading Pedestrian Interval,” which allows pedestrians — and now bikers — to begin crossing before parallel motor-vehicle traffic gets the green light.

The safety precaution could make cyclists more visible to turning cars and save lives in the process, according to the bill’s sponsor, Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park).

“We know that intersections are the most dangerous place for cyclists and pedestrians,” said Menchaca, who introduced the bill to the Council four years ago. “With this simple and common sense change to the law, every cyclist will have a safer way to cross intersecti­ons.”

The Council passed the new law with 31 votes in favor, and seven against. The vote comes during a bloody year for New York City’s cyclist community, which has seen 17 deaths since January, compared to 2018’s 10 fatalities. On Tuesday, two cyclists died in accidents: one 58-year-old victim collided with a box truck in Greenpoint, and another 17-year-old cyclist was struck by a flatbed truck in a Staten Island intersection.

For all the fanfare surrounding the passage of Menchaca’s bill, most Brooklyn cyclists already cross with the pedestrian signal — if they even wait that long, according to one biker.

“I didn’t know it was illegal,” said Tyler Wright, avid cyclist and Queens resident. “I’ve always run the lights.”

But to the Sunset Park legislator, the law signals more than a change in policy — it points to the city’s evolving view of cyclists.

“Today, I am proud to say that we are shifting the way the law treats cyclists to match reality,” said Councilman Menchaca in a statement on Tuesday. “We cannot ensure everyone’s safety on the road if we continue to treat cyclists like motor vehicles.”

Reach reporter Rose Adams at or by calling (718) 260–8306.
Updated 8:54 am, July 25, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
The fat, self entitled motorists will be shrieking over this one. LOL, poor snowflakes.
July 25, 2019, 6:29 am
Jerry Krase from park slope says:
“I didn’t know it was illegal,” said Tyler Wright, avid cyclist and Queens resident. “I’ve always run the lights.”
July 25, 2019, 8:40 am
it's without rational... says: most of what the city leaders do. If anything, we need to move traffic along, not let it sit idle and idling. Makes more sense to put a delay timer for bikes, not cars, to clear the intersection before the bikes enter it. This is an especially poorly though out approach as the bikes are all illegally going through the lights anyway, so what are the cars being delayed for if the bikes have already gone. All this does if give the illusion that bikes will be safe in the street leading to more innocent deaths at the hands of NYC.GOV. License cyclists, make them pass a road safety test and acknowledge the tremendous risks, and be accountable.
July 25, 2019, 9:06 am
BikeHead from Downtown Brooklyn says:
This law stops cops from giving tickets when bikers are doing the safest thing. Now can we get rid of the stupid bell law?
July 25, 2019, 9:07 am
Jorge from Sunset Park says:
are bikers ever going to be forced to wear helmets?? all this outcry about bicycle safety - what about raising and enforcing fines against people who don't wear helmets?? it's ridiculous
July 25, 2019, 9:24 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
This new rule will make everyone safer, but drivers are extremely jealous of people on bikes so of course they're going to whine.
July 25, 2019, 10:23 am
Tyler from pps says:
Drivers at intersections: That big thick stripe *before* the crosswalk is a stop line for the *front* of your car. And pedestrian signal switching to "walk" is not a reason to start honking, the cars in front of you don't go until the traffic light turns green. Actually, just stop honking.
July 25, 2019, 10:39 am
Mai Dai from Homecrest says:
Pedal Pushers don't stop for red lights or stop signs anyway. the fatalities will continue and us pedestrians just don't care.
July 25, 2019, 11 am
Jeff from Brooklyn says:
Hey it's without rational... this is really not a new law. The pedestrian walk signal was enacted to give pedestrians a head start for crossing the intersection before the traffic signal turns green. What the Councilman Carlos Menchaca's law is not really not a new law but an add-on which now allows bikers to use the pedestrian walk signal before the traffic light turns green. So all you drivers (which I am and a biker) stop ——ing and moaning and get with the program. Also, too many drivers block the crosswalks waiting for the light to change.
July 25, 2019, 11:17 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
So many tears!
July 25, 2019, 1:15 pm
William Walker II from OLDE Mill Baisn says:
Now the pedal pushers will have a head start to blow through red lights stop signs They will reap what they sow and the fatalities will skyrocket.
July 25, 2019, 4:46 pm
James D from MatinecockLI says:
All I want is safety, and sometimes, I get into a left turn only lane, and the arrow turns red, leaving me stranded in the middle of a 5 or 6 lane intersection. This is where I use the crosswalk to my left as an escape route. Usually , I time it right and I make my left turn on green, green arrow, or yellow. But it's nice to have a way out. I didn't have time to downshift, and I look extremely vulnerable in the middle , and I don't know if it's safer to be on the left side or the right side of the left turn only lane.
July 25, 2019, 5:24 pm
alan podhaizer from coney island says:
safety of course is paramount In addition biking is great exercise and good for the environment. However too many bikers deliberately ignore the law. They ride fast on sidewalks without regard for pedestrians. I have watched policemen ignore these violations We need safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable . I have seen the result of pedestrians being hit by bike riders.
July 26, 2019, 7:43 am
Ro from Park Slope from says:
Go on the green, not in between. And always ride defensively while yielding to pedestrians.
July 26, 2019, 11:31 am
Wilbur D. Horse from Nanny state says:
So what? Bikers will Still run red lights anyway. They know they’ll never be punished. And deafening themselves with earbuds at full volume. Everyone hates cars—until it rains, and they call an Uber. Everyone hates trucks—except an Amazon or PeaPod delivery. Stop babying bikers.
July 26, 2019, 12:01 pm
Total BS from Greenpoint says:
If I hit a cyclist and was not at fault, I would sue that dead cyclists family for PTSD. No one wants to hit and kill someone but 99% of cyclists dont follow the laws. - NONE use hand/arm signals to warn drivers of upcoming turns. - MOST ride the wrong way down OneWay streets. - MOST do not wear helmets. - MOST do not wear reflective materials or use lights when riding at night or rainy conditions. - NONE have insurance. - NONE have to register their bike with the city, thus they pay nothing for the use of the roads.
July 26, 2019, 1:29 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Bicycles are considered a vehicle and should therefore follow the same traffic lights all other vehicles must follow with no exceptions!
July 26, 2019, 2:49 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
This is a proposed new law, stupid. Automobiles are considered a vehicle and should therefore follow the same traffic lights all other vehicles must follow with no exceptions!
July 26, 2019, 2:56 pm
Jethro says:
When it’s safe to go I bike through the light just like pedestrians. The less interaction with cars the better. I also ride on sidewalks with my mountain bike if there are loser cars obstructing my path up ahead. Drivers really sukk it’s like they have no idea how to behave around bikes. Especially these ghetto thugs in their Beamers who blast garbage music and don’t give you an inch. Sorry but it’s true.
July 26, 2019, 3:35 pm
Banjo Pete from Coney Island says:
Alan Podhaizer is not only a fine intelligent gentleman but he also plays a fine mandoline and guitar.
July 26, 2019, 4:43 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
FYI, Henry, we motorists already follow all of the traffic laws on a regular basis unlike you cyclists who believe that the traffic laws don't apply to you.
July 27, 2019, 1:51 pm

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