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NYC Cyclist Deaths: NTSB Recommends Requiring Bicycle Riders Wear Helmets

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Federal investigators say the way to keep cyclists safe is more bike helmets.

Following a spike in bicycle deaths, the National Transportation Safety Board now recommends requiring riders of all ages to wear helmets.

Amid a stunning rise in the death of bike riders in New York City, the recommendation for a mandatory helmet law picked up quasi-support from Mayor Bill de Blasio who says it's a safety issue "we have to come to grips with," reports CBS2's political reporter Marcia Kramer.

READ: Read the NTSB report (.pdf)


It's a grim static for New York City bike riders: 27 cyclists lost their lives on local streets this year, compared to 10 last year.

"If we do not act to mitigate head injuries for more bicyclists, additional bicyclists will die," said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

In September, Mayor Bill de Blasio faced backlash from cycling advocates after telling CBS2 he was considering requiring Citi Bike users to wear helmets.

CBS2 asked the mayor about his stance after the NTSB recommendation today.

"There is a safety issue that we have to come to grips with and at the same time, I hear that voices that say we don't want to discourage people from riding bikes," said de Blasio.

"But we have to have an honest conversation about the value of bike helmets," he said. "I think the NTSB is pointing us in the right direction."

Should New York City pass a law?

"I think it's time to consider legislation or regulation that would improve the situation," said de Blasio. "I'm not yet going to give you a blanket statement."

Police Commissioner James O'Neill, an avid bike rider, was willing to give an unequivocal statement.

"I ride a lot, and I would never, never go out the door without a bicycle helmet," he said. "I'm a proponent of wearing bicycle helmets." 

The bike lobbying group Transportation Alternatives says instead of a helmet law, Mayor de Blasio should look at another of NTSB's recommendations for saving lives: Improving roadway infrastructure for bicyclists.

A spokesman for Transportation Alternatives called on the mayor to join them on a bike ride so they can show him "the real dangers on New York city streets."

There have been 27 cyclists deaths on city streets so far this year, compared to 10 in 2018.

  • Jan. 1 – Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia, 26, was killed on Third Avenue near East 28th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
  • Jan. 4 – Hector Ayala, 41, was killed on Linden Boulevard near Crescent Street in East New York, Brooklyn.
  • Jan. 26 – Susan Moses, 63, was killed at Kings Highway and Van Sicklen Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
  • Feb. 4 – Joseph Chiam, 72, was killed by a tractor-trailer truck at 8th Avenue and 45th Street in Midtown, Manhattan. The driver took off.
  • Feb. 28 – Aurilla Lawrence, 25, was killed at Broadway and Rodney Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • March 14 – Robert Spencer, 53, was killed at Borden Avenue and Second Street in Long Island City, Queens.
  • April 17 – Pedro Tepozteco, 26, was killed on 47th Street near 17th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
  • April 27 – Victor Ang, 74, was killed on 11th Avenue near West 30th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan.
  • May 11 – Kenichi Nakagawa, 22, was killed at Dean Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
  • May 12 – Robert Sommer, 29, was killed by a car on Avenue U between Burnett and East 33rd streets in Marine Park, Brooklyn.
  • May 15 – Yisroel Schwartz, 16, was killed at 17th Avenue and 53rd Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
  • June 9 – Mohammed Abdullah, 29, was killed by a car at Avenue D and 105th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated with her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat.
  • June 24 – Robyn Hightman, 20, was killed by a tractor-trailer truck at West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue. The driver was cited for equipment violations.
  • June 27 – Ernest Askew, 57, was killed by a car at Chester Street and Sutter Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
  • July 1 – Devra Freelander, 28, was killed by a cement truck at Boerum Street and Bushwick Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • July 23 – Alex Cordero, 17, was killed by tow truck at Castleton Avenue and Clove Road in the West Brighton section of Staten Island.
  • July 23 – Liam Nhan, 58, was killed by a box truck at McGuiness Boulevard and Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
  • July 29 – Em Samolewicz, 30, was killed by a tractor-trailer at 35th Street and Third Avenue in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn.
  • Aug. 11 - Jose Alzorriz, 52, was killed when a car ran a red light and slammed into an SUV at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L in Coney Island, Brooklyn.
  • Aug. 26 - Charles Cheeseboro, 43, was killed at East Drive near Terrace Drive in Central Park, Manhattan.
  • Sept. 2 - Donald Roberts, 47, was killed at Broadway and Ellery Street on the border of Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick, Brooklyn. The driver, Korey Johnson, was charged with murder and reckless endangerment.
  • Sept. 8 - Abdul Bashar, 62, was killed at Third Avenue and 12th Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
  • Sept. 21 - Mario Valenzuela, 14, was killed by a dump truck at Borden Avenue and 11th Street in Long Island City, Queens.
  • Sept. 27 - Ada Martinez, 66, was killed at Rockaway Freeway and Beach 94th Street in Rockaway Beach, Queens.
  • Oct. 5 - Dalerjon Shahobiddinov, 10, was killed by an SUV at Seton Place and Foster Avenue in Kensington, Brooklyn. The driver, Victor Meji, was charged with driving without a license.
  • Oct. 13 - Bogdan Darmetko, 65, was killed by an SUV at Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel in Broad Channel, Queens.
  • Nov. 2 - Yevgeny Meskin, 87, was killed by a minivan at Avenue P. and Ocean Parkway in Midwood, Brooklyn.


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