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In NYC, bike accidents lead to vicious ER cycle
By Jennifer Fermino
NEW YORK CITY — Maybe they should replace those bike lanes with ambulance lanes.
Thousands of New York City pedestrians have been so injured by reckless bicyclists that they've been sent to the emergency room for treatment, according to a new study.
From 2007 to 2010, roughly 2,200 New Yorkers had to go to the hospital — some as inpatients — after getting hit by a bicycle, according to the first-of-its-kind analysis by two Hunter College professors.
In fact, 55 percent of all emergency-room visits in the state resulting from bikes hitting pedestrians occur in New York City, the figures show.
It's also likely just the tip of the iceberg.
"We don't know how many people are injured and just go home, or see their family doctor," said the study's co-author Bill Milczarski, an urban planner at Hunter College.
"We have lots and lots of people competing for scarce space."
The study comes at a time when the city is vastly expanding its bike-lane network.
The report marks the first time anyone has looked at New York state hospital data to track pedestrian injuries in bike accidents.
Brooklyn residents made the most bike-related hospital trips, followed by Manhattan, which ranked first for most serious injuries resulting in ER visits.
In all, 4,121 pedestrians in the state went to the hospital after getting in an accident with a cyclist from 2007 to 2010, according to data from the state Department of Health.
Most of them were treated and released — just over 8 percent were admitted for treatment, the study found.
Milczarski said an earlier study of federal data — which found only about 1,000 accidents a year nationally — had a higher margin of error.
The analysis was done on behalf of the Stuart C Gruskin Foundation, a bicycle safety group founded in honor of a Jersey man who died after getting hit by a bike in Midtown.
Nancy Gruskin, the victim's widow, said the study is especially important because the city is planning to unveil a bicycle-sharing program next summer that will flood the streets with 10,000 more bikes.
"We have to make sure those cyclists follow the rules," said Gruskin.
In a statement, a spokesman for the city's Department of Transportation said the number of pedestrians being hit by bikes was "pretty low" compared with those hit by cars, but they were working to reduce the number.
"We still have to drive it down further and will continue to work with NYPD to enforce the law for everyone on the road and install bike lanes to separate vehicles from cyclists and cyclists from pedestrians," the statement said.
Copyright 2011 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.