Report: Number of pedestrians hurt, killed by cyclists going up

Josh Einiger Image
Saturday, August 17, 2019
Report: Number of pedestrians hurt, killed by cyclists going up
Josh Einiger has the details.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Recently, there has been an alarming number of bicyclists hurt or killed on the road. However, bicyclists are not always the victim - sometimes they can be the problem.

Donna Sturm was on her lunch break back in April and was crossing 57th Street at 5th Avenue. She was in the crosswalk with the walk sign, when a cyclist delivering food ran a red light and mowed her down.

Sturm never regained consciousness, and after a quarter-century of marriage, Ted Panken is facing life without her.

"She was petrified of bicycles. When she drove, she was always afraid she was going to hit a cyclist," Panken said.

Sturm is one of two pedestrians hit and killed by bikes this year - there were none last year. It is part of an alarming rise in bikes versus pedestrians. So far this year, there have been 169 pedestrians injured by cyclists - up 14 percent from last year.

"Everyone - everyone should be ceding the right of way to pedestrians," says Cycling Advocate Marco Conner.

Conner concedes many bicyclists don't follow the most basic of rules. He says Sturm's tragedy is proof of the need for more bike lanes - there isn't one where she was hit.

"When you have protected bike lanes, it actually makes the street safer," says Conner, "It decreases the injury rate for pedestrians even more than it does for bicyclists."

While nothing is cut and dry, for all of the pedestrians like Sturm, who did everything right, there is another person who will walk on a bike lane painted green.

For all the cyclists blowing through traffic lights or riding the wrong way, there are those with helmets on, riding single file, in a bike lane.

While cyclists can be ticketed for violating traffic laws, Panken was stunned to learn there are no criminal statutes for things like manslaughter.

"It's just a waste - it didn't have to happen," he said.

Police say it is extremely difficult to charge a bicyclist in a case like this, and that is just one reason why the guy who killed Sturm has not even gotten a ticket yet.

Panken wants to change the laws to make it easier, but he realizes it will be a heavy lift and will do nothing to bring her back.


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