NYC Cyclists Say Toilet Plungers Are Key To Saving Their Lives

Cyclist Fatalities On The Rise In New York City

A group of cycling advocates in New York City has been installing toilet plungers at intersections where bicycle and automobile lanes mix to improve safety.

The plungers in the city's West Village serve as makeshift barriers on streets where cyclists must share the lanes with cars, trucks and other motorized vehicles.

So-called "mixing zones" are especially dangerous to cyclists and there have been many recent incidents were cyclists have died as a result of collisions with cars in those areas.

The "Transportation Dept" — as the cycling advocates call themselves — say the biggest threat to cyclists' safety is cars making turns through bike lanes. If drivers aren't cautious, their turns can cut off cyclists, leading to potentially deadly crashes.

Fifteen cyclists have died in New York City so far this year, which is up from 10 cycling deaths in all of 2018.

A video shared by the Transportation Dept via Twitter shows how the plungers serve as pylons to remind turning drivers to give straight-bound cyclists the right of way through intersections.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been promoting a program called Vision Zero in New York City, which is meant to slow down traffic overall by adding speed cameras, speed humps and added protection to bike lanes. The city reported having nearly 21 miles of protected bike lanes this year, thanks to Vision Zero.

But in light of an increase in fatal crashes, cyclists are demanding more, saying Vision Zero isn't doing anything to protect them. Solutions, the Transportation Dept. says, are actually much cheaper and simpler.

"This is how easy it is to protect cyclists and keep drivers from hitting them," the group Tweeted in a follow up to several videos showing the plungers working. "A set of toilet plungers at $4.99 each. How much are people's lives worth?"

Photo: Getty Images

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