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New Law to Keep Cyclists Safe Lacks Financial Bite

A new bill from the New York City Council is set to require construction companies to provide cyclists with safe detours around construction sites, but critics say that it lacks the financial power to guarantee success.

Construction sites often take over protected bike lanes, forcing cyclists out into general traffic. The new bill from Manhattan Council Member Carlina Rivera would grant the Department of Transportation the power to enforce this, but it doesn’t include a specific dollar figure for the potential fines. The current penalty for blocking a bike lane is only about $100, a barely noticeable amount to a multi-million dollar construction project.

According to Streetsblog, street safety advocates in attendance of Rivera’s press conference commented that the Department of Buildings may be able to do a better job enforcing the proposed rule. The agency already has the ability to issue citations up to $25,000 to construction companies that fail to protect the public or its workers. However, the agency is not currently involved in enforcements relating to the right of way, so additional work would need to be done to include their legislative might.

Protecting cyclists is a major issue that New York City has been slowly addressing over the past few years, adding new protected bike lanes across the city and reconfiguring intersections in an attempt to cut down on the number of injuries and fatalities.

“Protected bike lanes show drivers that we have a right to the road, too,” North Brooklyn cycling advocate Phillip Leff said in an interview with Streetsblog. “But when they are blocked, the dangers cyclists face all comes up again.”

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