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DOT Apologizes For Reporting False Bike Accident Info

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- A pedestrian safety advocate is outraged after New York City released inaccurate information about pedestrian injuries caused by bike riders.

The anger came in response to last week's "Bike Bedlam" series on CBS 2, reports Tony Aiello.

When she lost her husband, Nancy Gruskin gained a mission.

"I'm not here to say, 'take the bikes of the road,' not here to say biking isn't great," Gruskin said.

Her mission is a foundation dedicated to safe streets in the city. Last year, Gruskin's husband, Stuart, suffered a fatal head injury when a bicycle rider plowed into him.

Two days after CBS 2 featured Gruskin in the "Bike Bedlam" reports, the city Department of Transportation releases statistics claiming pedestrian injuries in crashes with cyclists plummeted 62 percent since 2001.

Now, though, the DOT is backpedaling, admitting the numbers it released were wrong.

It turns out those numbers have nothing to do with bike vs. pedestrian accidents – they're from motor vehicle accidents in which bikers and pedestrians were also injured.

When bikes hit pedestrians, no agency collects the incident reports or analyzes them.

Gruskin said she knew that, but the DOT apparently did not.

"It's an outrage, because it's all about pedestrian safety, and how can you ensure pedestrian safety if you can't ensure accurate numbers?" Gruskin said.

On Friday, the DOT told CBS 2 they "regret this error and any confusion it may have caused."

The city is seeking to improve data collection to be as responsive as possible to all traffic safety issues.

When Gruskin wrote the mayor last year to ask for help with bicycle safety, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan replied with a form letter – it was addressed to Gruskin's dead husband, Stuart.

"How much more could you be kicked in the stomach?" Gruskin said. "That's exactly how I felt when I opened the letter from the Department of Transportation."

Gruskin wrote again this week, and hopes her letter is treated with more respect this time.

Gruskin wants to meet with the DOT commissioner to discuss ways the city could collect accurate statistics on bicycle vs. pedestrian accidents.

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