It's been a long time coming but Governor Kathy Hochul just signed a bill mandating that all would-be New York drivers learn about pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
Given that, approximately 800,000 New Yorkers ride a bike regularly, according to the city, we’re surprised that the legislation, which goes into effect in January of 2023, wasn’t tackled by officials before now.
According to an official press release, the legislation "requires new drivers to learn about pedestrian and bicyclist safety awareness as a component of the pre-licensing exam and as a prerequisite for obtaining a license to operate a motor vehicle." Specifically, the updated curriculum will include an overview of the laws that drivers have to abide by in respect to pedestrians and cyclists.
The upgraded safety guidelines will also be added to the Department of Motor Vehicles' instruction handbook.
"This bill's passage through both houses and signature into law is the beginning of a major shift toward increased safety in our communities," said Justin Booth, the executive director of GObike, in an official statement. "The newest and least experienced drivers in our state will now receive clear instruction about lawfully and safely sharing the road with cyclists and properly yielding to them and pedestrians, and they must prove they understand that instruction in order to get their license."
It is no secret that pedestrian deaths are a major in concern in our city. As reported by Gothamist, the occurrences increased by 44% percent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to data relating to pre-pandemic times.
According to an official report by the New York City Department of Transportation, the three most common factors when analyzing crash causes in 2022 were driver inattention, failure to yield right-of-way and unsafe speed. Hopefully, the new legislation will improve the situation all around.