While New York City's Department of Transportation continues to make the city's streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians with projects of which everyone approves (well, except this one, this one, this one and this one), the city and its Parks Department are now facing lawsuits over the lack of safety measures around bike routes in Prospect and Central parks.
In Manhattan Nancy Chilton, a 51-year-old cyclist who hit a dog that darted out in front of her during off-leash hours in July of 2011, is suing the city and Parks Department over the lack of adequate rules about where dogs can and can't be. Though the Wall Street Journal offers no news of the canine's condition following the crash, Chilton's injuries required emergency surgery to remove part of her skull, in addition to a fractured pelvis and spine, and permanent hearing damage.
During off-leash hours—such as 5am-9am—which coincide with popular workout times for cyclists and joggers, dog-owners are technically allowed to let their dogs run leash-less almost anywhere in Central Park, including the roads. Of the lax off-leash restrictions, a Central Park Conservancy spokesperson tells the Journal: "I'm not sure why we did not include the park drive." A good solution for Central Park might be to create specific off-leash zones, like those that exist in Prospect Park, which is facing a bike collision-related lawsuit of its own.
Dana Jacks, an actress and resident of Windsor Terrace who was injured in a collision with a cyclist in June on West Lake Drive, is preparing to sue the city to the tune of $3 million, the Brooklyn Paper reports. Her injuries from the accident included "a fractured skull along with face and brain trauma that kept her in the hospital for 25 days." Jacks’s preliminary legal documents place the blame on both the Parks Department and the NYPD for "careless and reckless" enforcement of traffic laws inside the park.
Earlier this month another pedestrian was gravely injured in a collision with a cyclist in Prospect Park, and had to be put into a medically induced coma. As a result of these and other accidents, last week the Department of Transportation installed traffic cones on West Lake Drive, where cyclists go the fastest, but those present problems of their own. The Times, meanwhile, goes Post-al, blaming dramatic increases in bike ridership for these and other accidents.