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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

N.Y. Gets Tough on Bicycle Menace

NEW YORK -- It's a sign of how far New York City has come in its war on crime: The hot issue this fall is not subway stabbings or street shootings, but whether police can clear crowded sidewalks of the two-wheeled menace posed by deliverymen and bicycle messengers.


Days after police said they would increase enforcement of laws banning bikes from city sidewalks, a restaurant deliveryman on a bike struck and killed a 68-year-old man.


Eduardo Delossantos, 24, who delivers for Chirping Chicken, was given a summons for riding without commercial identification. Police said he would also likely receive a summons for riding illegally on the sidewalk.


"Maybe this will serve as a reminder to bicyclists and [in-line skaters]: You do not belong on the sidewalk," Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said. "If you do, you can really put people in danger."


While Kaye's death has politicians and pedestrian-rights activists calling for increased enforcement of current bicycle laws, police already have been much busier this year monitoring violations.


Lieutenant Dennis Cirillo said the department this year has increased to 9,867 the number of summonses issued for biking violations such as running red lights, riding the wrong way and riding on sidewalks. Last year, 6,111 summonses were issued. A judge determines the amount of the fine.


Bette Dewing, a city activist for pedestrian rights, said walking conditions won't improve unless the mayor makes the issue a priority.


"The police say they're doing something, but it's like the proverbial drop in the bucket," Dewing said. "Until [Giuliani] says this is a major public safety issue, it's not going to get solved."


"It's just not a quality of life issue, like dog [feces] on the sidewalk or graffiti. It's a public safety issue," she said.


While acknowledging that cars kill more pedestrians than do bicyclists, Dewing said many bicycle-pedestrian collisions go unnoticed because they cause serious but not fatal injuries.


Arthur Kaye of New Jersey hit his head on the pavement after the collision with Delossantos on Tuesday and died an hour later at a hospital. Doctors said heart disease contributed to his death.


Police said Kaye was only the second pedestrian killed by a bicycle this year, while there was one such fatality last year. By comparison, 16 bicyclists have been killed by cars this year.


New York is not the only city trying to cope with bicyclists. Boston is considering increasing regulations on bicycle messengers and the Boston Chamber of Commerce voted last week to send letters to businesses urging them to steer clear of unlicensed couriers. The vote came less than three weeks after a bank executive was hit by a messenger and wound up in a coma.


In New York, Republican City Councilman Andrew Eristoff has proposed legislation that hold business owners liable for bike-related violations committed by their deliverymen.


But Larry Zogby, owner of RDS Delivery in Manhattan, said he left the bicycle messenger business this year because of the high costs of workman's compensation -- a testament to the dangerous conditions that prevail on the streets of Manhattan.


Zogby, whose couriers now travel by foot, rejected Eristoff's proposal.


"I think it would put the small business out of business," he said. "Let them go after the biker.


"There's certain conditions ... that force that biker onto the sidewalk sometimes. You've got the taxicabs who drive recklessly trying to pick up fares, regular motor traffic. They're scared to ride in the street."