Biking in NYC: Citi Bike logs a million miles in less than a month

City officials report that people using New York City's new bike-sharing program, Citi Bike, have logged more than a million miles in less than a month. The program launched May 27 for annual members and June 2 for everyone else. Citi Bike currently offers 6,000 cobalt-blue bikes at 330 stations in Manhattan south of 59th Street and parts of Brooklyn, but there are plans to expand to 10,000 bikes and 600 stations.

Riders can unlock the three-gear, cruising-style bikes from any station, take them for up to 45-minute rides (if you are an annual member) or 30-minute rides (for daily pass holders) and then return the bikes to any station. An annual membership costs $95, or you can buy a daily pass for $9.95.

Helmets not required

No one using the Citi Bike bike-sharing program is required to wear a helmet. Helmet requirements, say city officials, dampen the popularity of bike-sharing programs. They take the spontaneity out of the decision to hop a bike and pedal away.

A Rutgers University professor has predicted that the lack of a helmet requirement and the attraction of a large number of inexperienced bicyclists could double or even triple cyclist injuries and fatalities. On the other hand, the Mineta Transportation Institute in California studied 14 bike-share programs and found that these programs had relatively low bicycle accident rates, averaging 1.36 serious or fatal accidents for 2011. By contrast, New York City experienced 22 fatalities for bicyclists the same year.

Biking the Big Apple's streets can be hazardous

While New York City has created 300 miles of new bike lanes in the last five years, the City's bike lanes are frequently blocked by parked cars, delivery trucks, taxi cabs and even police cruisers, forcing cyclists out into the thick of traffic. According to NBC News, a 2009 study found that, during a 10-minute span, a cyclist has a 60 percent chance of finding the bike lane blocked by a car, truck or taxi.

Careful planning is required to make sure your route keeps to bike-friendly streets. Potential pitfalls for tourists and others using Citi Bike are the narrow streets in Chinatown, the jarring cobblestones of Soho, and Seventh Avenue, which has been described as the worst biking route in the City.

What if I'm injured in a biking accident?

If you are injured in a biking accident in New York City, you should contact an experienced bicycle accident attorney who can obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries from those responsible or their insurers.