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New York City DOT Announces 'Green Wave' Bike Safety Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With the number of cyclists killed on the streets of New York rising, city transportation officials have unveiled a new safety program.

It's designed to give bike riders priority on some streets, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Wednesday.

It's called the "green wave," a plan to re-engineer the timing of traffic lights so people riding bikes catch a series of green lights so they can glide through intersections without having to stop.

"Vision Zero means making sure people on bikes in every neighborhood feel safe -- whether they're in Boerum Hill, Bath Beach or Bushwick," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We've installed 100 miles of protected bike lanes -- more than any administration in history -- and are not stopping there. With our 'green wave' plan, we're doubling down on our commitment to end senseless traffic fatalities."

Web Extra: DOT Holds Press Conference Introducing 'Green Wave' Safety Program:

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg is taking more steps to protect the growing number of people who ride bikes in the city, hoping to stem the tide of fatal accidents. At least 25 cyclist have died to far this year. That's 15 more than last year and the highest number in two decades.

"It's New York, if you are behind the wheel, you're not going to catch that many green lights. And, particularly on those corridors where we see a lot of cyclists, we want to encourage cycling. We want to make sure that route is safe." Trottenberg said.

In addition to protected bike lanes and the redesign of intersections, officials are re-timing traffic lights so riders hit green light after green light without having to stop. Under the plan, the lights will be re-timed so a cyclist going an average speed on 10-15 mph won't have to stop. Drivers going their speed limit -- 25 mph -- will get red lights.

"So what we're seeing -- it's still preliminary -- is cycling trips are faster. Cyclists are meeting more green lights, so we're much less jumping through reds. And when we look at the traffic effects on cars, particularly at those rush hours, it's pretty negligible," Trottenberg said.

Cyclists applaud what the city is trying to do.

"I love it," said Yoni Hershowitz of Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. "Make it easier for sure, make it faster. You don't have to stop and start. It is kind of annoying. I don't see why cars have priority over bike riders. It's the same number of users."

Drivers, however, are split on the idea.

"To me, it's probably a bad idea. It slows everything down. What can I say? It's slow enough as it is," said Jerry Nesmith of Bed-Stuy.

"I don't mind at all because I'm in a car, they're on a bike," said Charles Cumbo of Boerum Hill. "It seems to be a biker's town now."

"My concern is that many of these people who are on bikes and on two-wheel motorized mopeds have never taken a driving course, so they don't know the rules of the road," added Elissa Bernstein of Bed-Stuy.

There is already a green wave street in Boerum Hill. More green wave streets are planned for locations in other boroughs, including 43rd Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens, and Prince Street in the SoHo section of Manhattan.

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