Advocating for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety & Equality in NYS

Advocacy

Since 1990, NYBC has been your voice for a more bike-friendly New York State. We partner with local advocates and organizations to understand issues in your community and support improvement efforts. In doing so, NYBC has a macro lens on bicycling and active transportation issue trends across the state and uses that data to inform our policy and legislative campaigns.


Employing Complete Streets and Vision Zero principles, NYBC is committed to ensuring New York is seen as a leader in bicycle- and active transportation-friendly design, policy, and infrastructure so every New Yorker can get where they need to go safely. Read more to discover our current campaigns and how you can make a difference.

 

Vision Zero in New York State

VisionZeroWhat do we mean by “Vision Zero”?

Vision Zero is exactly what it sounds like — it’s the vision of a future without any traffic fatalities or severe injuries, while continuing to increase safe, healthy and equitable human-powered transportation.

Vision Zero originated in Sweden in the late 1990s and has evolved to the U.S. with these core principles:

  1. Traffic deaths and severe injuries are acknowledged to be preventable.
  2. Human life and health are prioritized within all aspects of transportation systems.
  3. Acknowledgment that human error is inevitable, and transportation systems should be forgiving.
  4. Safety work should focus on systems-level changes above influencing individual behavior.
  5. Speed is recognized and prioritized as the fundamental in crash severity.

Source: Vision Zero Network, Moving from Vision to Action. For additional resources on Vision Zero, visit NYC Vision Zero and Transportation Alternatives.

“Crash, not accident” language in traffic reporting

Like it or not, the media has a strong hold on public perceptions about almost everything. You might agree or disagree with what’s being reported at any particular time, but reporting language influences your perceptions about the world, whether you’re conscious of it or not.

That’s why NYBC continues to educate the news media and the public about “Crash, not accident” reporting of traffic incidents.

The media’s pervasive use of the word “accident” has desensitized the public to the reality of drivers running their cars into things – including pedestrians and people on bikes. Instead of employing defensive driving principles, some drivers feel red lights and speed limits are suggestions, that slowing in school zones is inconvenient, or that the roads are paid for exclusively by motorists so only motor vehicles should be on the road. (Spoiler: they aren’t!)

A “crash” is when a vehicle, driven by a person, collides violently with an obstacle or another vehicle. It doesn’t absolve anyone of fault; it evaluates the details of what happened. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 94% of all crashes are the result of human error. This would include the intersection design, lane markings, as well as every participant’s placement and actions. Blame is assigned based on the facts. Consequences are handed out. Being a licensed driver is a privilege, not a right because any driver has the potential to injure or kill.

NYBC is calling upon the media to use “crashes”, not “accidents” when reporting on traffic incidents involving bicyclists or pedestrians. The AP Stylebook recommends the use of crash language when negligence is claimed or proven.

Making Class I E-bikes Legal in New York State

What is a Class I E-bike?

An E-bike is similar to a “traditional” human-powered bicycle, except that it includes a small, silent electric motor that provides pedal assistance and allows the rider to climb hills, accelerate, and overcome wind resistance more easily than a manually powered bicycle. In conformity with federal guidelines, a class I E-bike has a motor that will shut off when the bike reaches 20 miles per hour.

705658855What value do E-bikes provide to NYS residents?

  • An E-bike can allow individuals who have physical challenges to ride bikes, when they would otherwise be unable to do so.
  • E-bikes are a source of transportation for people who either don’t want to drive a car or cannot afford one; they are perfect for a sweat-free commute to work!
  • E-bikes reduce traffic congestion and create zero emissions, which makes them a green, environmentally sustainable mode of transportation.
  • Studies show that a Class I E-bike can provide at least 75% of the health and fitness benefit of a fully human-powered bicycle.
  • Legalizing E-bikes addresses equity issues. There are thousands of low-income people in New York State, both upstate and on Long Island — who would use e-bikeshare if offered in their communities where public transportation doesn’t exist or is too infrequent to be practical.
  • Legalizing E-bikes boosts our economy and increases sales tax. E-bikes are already being bought and sold in New York State, which means that they are contributing to the economy despite their not yet being street-legal. When they become legal, industry experts predict that sales will double. This is based on sales data from states that have passed legislation that would define E-bikes as bicycles. In those states, bike tourism is increasing, and local economies in struggling villages, towns and cities are benefiting.

How you can support the E-bike campaign

  1. Plan an E-bike demonstration ride. The NYBC staff and an E-bike dealer in your region can help you to show the community and local legislators how they work and why they’re important.
  2. Contact your local state representatives. Reach out to your Senator or Assembly member a to express your support for class I E-bikes to be defined as a bicycle by the NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law. Visit these sites for more information about NYC (five boroughs) and areas outside NYC.
  3. Be part of our network! Individuals and organizations who are interested in bicycle/pedestrian issues, environmental sustainability, disability rights, safety, seniors, and others all have a stake in helping to pass this legislation! Help us grow our network by encouraging your local groups to sign on to this effort. Start by joining our email list ; NYBC will keep you abreast of where we are and what we’re doing.
  4. Contact your local bikeshare program. Ask them to consider adding an E-bike option to their offerings.
  5. Sign the petition. Your Voice Matters!
  6. Every bit counts. Please consider a targeted donation  to the NYBC E-bikes campaign.

View a print-friendly version of this information.

 

Helmet laws, E-bikeshares, age restrictions and other considerations

New York Bicycling Coalition has researched and explored many facets of proposed legislation around E-bikes, as it’s important that any related laws complement E-bike use.

Options for low income individuals using E-bikeshare: NYBC strongly encourages E-bikeshare to offer options that align with the purchasing trends of low-income communities, including financial assistance and cash fare options similar to programs proposed in Washington, D. C. and Providence, Rhode Island.

Age restrictions: NYBC favors an E-bike bill with no age restriction for either passenger or rider, since we know that many parents use E-bikes to transport their children. Class I E-bikes do not travel at dangerously high speeds; in fact, they don’t travel much faster than human-powered bicycles, so an age restriction is not necessary.

Helmet laws and communities of color: While NYBC strongly encourages all bicycle riders to wear a helmet every time they ride bikes, it’s our position that we need to educate, not legislate. Helmet laws could result in unnecessary interactions with law enforcement, and we would rather educate riders so that they are choosing to wear helmets for safety.

E-bikes can become legal in New York State, but we need all enthusiasts to be part of the effort.
Please consider contacting your legislators today!

NYS tourism: Bikes on Board Amtrak Trains

How does “Bikes on Board Trains” work?

The New York Bicycling Coalition is working towards improved efficiency, accessibility, and convenience for train passengers who would like to travel with their bicycles through roll-on service on Amtrak trains.

Several years ago, NYBC became a voice within the Amtrak Bicycle Services Task Force to advocate for roll-on service on New York corridor routes via an onboard bicycle rack system in passenger cars. Presently, bicycles are required to be disassembled and boxed in order to be carried on to a train. For many cyclists, this makes it too inconvenient to travel with a bike. Primarily, it means that most people cannot use a bicycle to travel to and from the train station. Second, it discourages tourists and commuters from traveling by passenger rail.

NYBC would like to see roll-on bicycle service on the Adirondack, Maple Leaf, Ethan Allen and Empire route trains in order to encourage bicycle travel and tourism. Doing so would connect tens of thousands of cyclists in New York City, Montreal, and Toronto with beautiful, bike-friendly areas in New York State.

While Amtrak has made statements in support of adding roll-on service in New York, and even held some “demonstration rides” several years ago, we’re still working toward a solution. Not all trains are engineered the same way, but adding bicycle racks to each passenger car to accommodate additional bikes is the objective that NYBC would like to achieve.

With your support, we can continue to work with our to partners to get roll-on service on trains throughout New York.