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The New York City Council is schooling the Department of Education on bike safety.

Council members including Rita Joseph (D-Flatbush), who chairs the council’s Education Committee, introduced a resolution this week calling on the DOE to teach bike safety in all public schools — a lesson mandated by state law since 2014.

“It’s never been taught,” Joseph told The Post. “As an educator for 22 years, I never knew it [the law] existed.” 

Joseph, who was a full-time teacher at PS 6 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, until she was sworn onto the council in January, said two of her former students were pedestrians killed by cars.

One of them, Isaiah Benloss, 18, was hit by a car in August 2020, eventually dying after more than a year in a coma.

Joseph remembered how shocked she was to learn about the crash, saying she had been expecting a phone call one day about Benloss — but from the teen himself, and with great news.

“The call I was waiting for was, ‘Ms. Joseph, I got drafted by the NBA,’ ” she said.

Bike safety courses have been mandated by state law since 2014 -- but haven't been taught in the city, according to Council Member Rita Joseph.
Bike safety courses have been mandated by state law since 2014 — but haven’t been taught in the city, according to Council Member Rita Joseph.
Will Alatriste

Joseph’s street-safety resolution — introduced along with Councilman Erik Bottcher (D-Chelsea) and Council Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers (D-Southeast Queens), who chairs the Transportation Committee — is part of a larger effort to promote bicyclist safety for all ages.

Roughly 773,000 city residents are regular bike riders, making up an estimated 530,000 cycling trips each day, according to a council press release.

While state education law requires that all students be provided instruction in traffic regulation and bicycle safety, Joseph said just eight schools offer biking curriculum through Bike New York, which sends trained instructors to schools.

Only eight city school offer biking safety courses through instructors from Bike New York.
Only eight city school offer biking safety courses through instructors from Bike New York.
Will Alatriste

“We’re not seeing enough of bike education, just like they offer driver’s ed,” she said.

But Joseph also said the streets have to be safe enough for the kids to put their bike education to use.

“As we’re teaching them, we need to be able to provide the right setting for them,” she said. “We’ve seen the crashes this year — young people after young people, just dying on the road.”

Josephs resoution was introduced with Councilman Erik Bottcher and Council Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers.
Josephs resoution was introduced with Councilman Erik Bottcher and Council Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers.
Will Alatriste

There were 5,175 cyclists injured and 24 killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2020, according to the latest Department of Transportation Bicycle Crash Data Report.

“Cycling is a critical part of New York City’s transportation present and future,” said Bottcher in a statement. “As we develop more and more desperately needed infrastructure to support the increase in cycling, we also need to develop a culture of awareness and safety among our youngest riders.”

Source: NYPOST

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