NEW YORK CITY — The city Department of Transportation has kicked off a study of bicycle intersection safety and comfort that it expects will wrap up at the beginning of next year, according to an agency spokeswoman.
The study, part of the city's Vision Zero initiative to reduce pedestrian deaths, will evaluate cyclist safety and comfort levels at existing bike lane intersections, the spokeswoman said, including the controversial "mixing zones" where drivers are able to turn left while yielding to cyclists going through a green light.
The study will identify 20 "key cycling intersections" to be upgraded, according to the spokeswoman, who could not elaborate on how those intersections will be selected.
Activists and East Village community members have been calling for changes to the "mixing zones" since April, when 31-year-old cyclist Kelly Hurley was fatally struck by a turning box truck while riding through a green light at one such intersection at First Avenue and East Ninth Street.
Community Board 3 in June penned a resolution requesting the department evaluate the zones for potential changes based on a proposal from cyclist Reed Rubey, who has pitched replacing the mixed zones with protected and separate bike lanes to prevent future fatalities.
Captain Vincent Greany, the Ninth Precinct's commanding officer, spoke of the dangers of the zones at a community council meeting after Hurley's death, noting that it is "almost impossible" to see a cyclist while merging into their lane "unless you physically turn your head and look back."
The department will speak to cyclists directly to assess their comfort levels traveling through intersections, said the spokeswoman.
As part of the study, the department is currently seeking to hire a "Bicycle Intersection Coordinator" to focus on the design and safety of the intersections with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities and injuries, according to a job posting that has been live since March of this year.
The department has said that the zones are safe as they are, but will nonetheless evaluate their safety as part of the study.