Another high-profile NY accident draws attention to pedestrian safety

New York's pedestrians are particularly vulnerable on the state's roadways.

A 58-year-old woman from Connecticut is the latest in a long line of pedestrians to be injured in an accident along a New York roadway. The victim was critically injured after being struck by a bicyclist in Central Park and hitting her head on the concrete as she fell. She is currently on life support at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center and is reportedly brain dead. The cyclist, a 31-year-old New York resident, was also injured in the collision and may have been exceeding the recommended speed limit but has not been charged with any crime.

The debate rages on

This tragic accident has again drawn public attention to the important issue of pedestrian safety. New York City, one of the most densely populated areas in the country, practically buzzes with the din of traffic - vehicle, bus, subway, motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian - at all hours of the day and night. With so many people sharing the roadways, there are bound to be accidents when the rules of the road aren't followed.

While the exact circumstances of this particular pedestrian accident aren't clear at this time, there has long been a debate about bike traffic in the city. There are two common areas of complaint about bikers in areas of high pedestrian traffic: speed and failing to yield the right of way. These complaints continue in spite of an increased police presence throughout the city (part of the mayor's " Vision Zero" safety initiative that aims to eliminate traffic deaths) and more aggressive enforcement of speed limits. Police have more than tripled the issuance of summonses for speed violations in Central Park this year pursuant to that campaign.

Following the rules of the road

It is vital that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike understand how to properly share the road, and that each person fulfills his or her safety responsibilities. After all, that is the only way that millions of people can safely coexist on such busy streets. While it isn't possible to detail all the rules of the road in a single article, here are a few important reminders.

Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists on New York roads. This means that they must obey all traffic lights, signals, signage and speed limits. Furthermore, if there are no dedicated bike lanes, bicyclists are expected to ride as far to the right of traffic as possible and to remain alert to pedestrians, yielding the "right of way" whenever appropriate.

Motorists, of course, must follow their own fair share of safety rules. In addition to obeying traffic control signs and signals, motorists must follow posted speed limits, use turn signals, avoid driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and refrain from distracted driving.

Pedestrians also must take responsibility for their own safety. Clearly, they cannot prevent drunk driving or bicyclists distracted by electronic devices, but they can pay close attention to "walk" and "don't walk" signals, use crosswalks and sidewalks whenever possible, avoid jaywalking, pay close attention to their surroundings and look both ways before crossing the street.

We all have rights and responsibilities inherent with sharing the road. While you can decrease the likelihood that you'll be involved in an accident, sometimes it isn't possible to avoid one. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another, you have legal rights. To learn more about legal options that may be available to you, speak with a New York personal injury attorney.

Keywords: pedestrian accident, serious injury, personal injury, motor vehicle accident