City Getting Sued Over Cyclist Collisions in Prospect and Central Parks

11/23/2011 11:25 AM |

This sounds like a job for the bicycle lawyers!

  • This sounds like a job for the bicycle lawyers!

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.


3 Comment

  • Though I am quoted in this November 22, 2011 Wall Street Journal article,

  • A big part of the problem with bicycle-pedestrian interaction in the parks is that the pavement markings only apply for the times when cars are in the park, with other rules for the rest of the time. Unfortunately these rules are not posted on the roads where people can see them but in signs at the entrances of the parks away from the roads. I’m sure that most cyclists, especially from out of town riding rented bikes, have no idea that when the cars are not there the road is for bikes and the bike lane is for joggers and insist on following the road markings that the bike lane is a bike lane for bikes to ride in, hence conflict.

    Perhaps making the road markings clearer or eliminating using the park roads as a cut-through for cars all the time would result in a little more harmony between park users.

  • My Son and I last weekend enjoyed our first time in the park together. My son and I decided to go to the big lawn to play and the lawn was fenced off. while standing on the pathway next to the big lawn my son was holding a ball, a mix breed pit bull looking dog jumped at my son causing him to fall backwards on his back and hit his head on the fence. Even though the dog was on a leash he still managed to hurt my son. My son is afraid to enter the park because of these types of vicious large dogs. Can there be a designated location for families to go to and use the park, not just playground areas basketball courts without worrying about dogs. Animals are unpredictable and I understand that it