NYC Bills Target Bicycle Delivery Safety

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed two bills that will require restaurants and other businesses to provide and pay for helmets for their bicycle delivery workers. The bills also will require employers to post signs summarizing bicycle safety laws and regulations.

The two laws, which take effect July 26, will affect many of the businesses in the New York City area that employ bicycle messengers and delivery personnel.

“The final two bills before me enhance the safety of those who operate bicycles regularly for employment and for pedestrians who share the city’s streets with them,” Bloomberg said during a March 28 public hearing.

In addition to requiring safety helmets, the first law mandates that employers ensure that their workers are wearing the helmets and keep the helmets “readily available and in good condition.” Businesses also must ensure that each bike is equipped with safety devices such as efficient brakes, reflective devices, lamps and bells as mandated by the New York Sate Vehicle and Traffic Law.

Multilingual Signs Required

The second law requires businesses to prominently display signs outlining all of the bicycle safety laws. The signs, to be placed in areas where workers easily can see them, must be in English and Spanish and any other language predominately spoken by workers.

“In addition to enhancing the safety of pedestrians traversing the city’s streets, these bills will help protect our city’s hard-working delivery personnel, many of whom are immigrants who speak a language other than English,” Bloomberg said. “Immigrants form the backbone of our city’s work force and have helped re-energize our economy, and this bill will ensure that they are given additional protection.”

A spokesman for the New York City Department of Transportation told that the department doesn't keep track of injuries and fatalities involving bicycle messengers and delivery workers.

However, a bicycle safety study released in September by New York City notes that, on average, there are 2.8 deaths per million bicyclists per year. It also states that between 1996 and 2003 there were 3,462 bicyclists that suffered serious injuries.

According to the report, 97 percent of the bicyclists who died were not wearing a safety helmet.

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