For Cyclists, Lower East Side Has Most Dangerous Intersections

IMG_0289Leila Samii

Earlier this week, the Daily News pointed to the intersection of Essex and Delancey Streets as one of the deadliest in the city. Where bicycle accidents are concerned, it isn’t the only dangerous street crossing on the Lower East Side. In fact, data shows that the neighborhood boasts many of the intersections most prone to bicycle crashes.

The Local obtained records from the New York City Department of Transportation of cycling accidents in 2008 and 2009, the most recent years available. The records reported all intersections where four or more cycling accidents occurred in 2008, and three or more in 2009.

Of the 33 intersections on the list, nine are on the Lower East Side (three of those nine are on Houston Street, the border of the East Village). The data reported a total of 45 crashes at those intersections.

Midtown was the second most sketchy neighborhood with 38 crashes across its accident-prone intersections.

Intersections like Suffolk and Delancey Streets, and East Houston Street and the Bowery were among the most dangerous for two-wheeled commuters. Three intersections in the East Village, including the corner once known as “Dead Man’s Curve,” were the site of 11 crashes.

“That’s not surprising,” said Andrew Crooks, the owner of the bike shop NYC Velo on Second Avenue near East Fourth Street. “A lot of customers come to us to get repaired post-accident.”

Mr. Crooks points to one of the main causes: cyclists from Brooklyn traveling over the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.

“This is a commuter artery— it’s like water flowing downhill,” he said. “Most commuters from Brooklyn will come through this part of town.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, Nicole Garcia, said that the streets are safer than ever for cyclists (since the advent of cars, anyway).

“These numbers represent a fraction of the number of cyclists crossing these intersections,” said Ms. Garcia, adding that over the past decade bicycle ridership has tripled while serious cycling accidents have declined by 72 percent.

Still, there have been three deadly cycling accidents in roughly the last month; one of which claimed the life of local bar owner Ray Deter.

Mr. Crooks said that the lack of a uniform grid layout south of 14th Street was another reason why the Lower East Side and East Village is more accident-prone.

“Midtown is very predictable. It’s almost all one-way streets, and the roads are wider,” he said. “There is a lot going on, but it’s more organized — that’s lost south of 14th Street.”

View Accident-prone intersections in Manhattan in 2008 and 2009 in a larger mapStephen Rex Brown Data courtesy of NYC DOT.