Letters to the Editor, Mar. 26

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Two sides to every cyclist/driver dispute

To the Editor,

I was disappointed that you reported “Cyclist wanted for assault” (Police Watch, T&V, March 19) without adding quotation marks around “Assault,” to indicate that the person has only been alleged to have committed a crime.

The article itself made it clear that the automobile driver’s claims were prima facie preposterous:  “A 54-year-old man was in his car when he was cut off by a bicyclist,” you reported. The average car weighs 4,000 pounds. The average bike weighs 20 pounds. How can it be that the driver can legitimately claim he was cut off by a bicyclist?

More appropriately, your article could have said the driver “claimed he had been cut off by a bicyclist.”

More likely, what happened was that the driver of the car was passing too close to the cyclist, or otherwise driving in a reckless fashion.  Words were exchanged, and the driver likely threatened the cyclist with bodily harm. Whether or not the cyclist used his bike lock to defend himself, possibly striking the automobile’s window in the process, is a matter for a jury to determine, after weighing the evidence. The prosecutor will need more than the angry driver’s word for it.

Often, there are two sides to every story.  If we are to make New York City livable again, we probably should give cyclists the benefit of the doubt before indicting them for a felony without hearing their side of the story.

Name Withheld, ST

5 thoughts on “Letters to the Editor, Mar. 26

  1. There was no “alleged assault” the driver of the car suffered injuries and was treated at the hospital. Are you suggesting that he hit himself with a bike lock and then furnished the police with a photo of a random person to accuse ? Seriously, nice try defending your cousin, but they’ll get him. Bring him popcorn when he’s locked up.

  2. Seriously? You don’t know how a cyclist could have cut off a motorist? How about by going in front of the car from the right? Or just plain not following the rules of the road, whether it’s riding in the direction of traffic or going through red lights? As a pedestrian, I have had more near-misses with bikes than with cars–and no one ever nabs the cyclists.

  3. As a generally staunch defender of cyclists myself, I must acknowledge I don’t think this letter makes a compelling case to the typical reader. However I have to argue with “Tired of Being Punked.” I must be so bold as to say that you are incorrect when you say you have had more near misses with cyclists than with motor vehicles–AND that no one ever nabs the cyclists. On the latter point, before the Vision Zero initiative began (and perhaps continuing), there were many NYPD precincts who issued very significantly more summonses to cyclists than to motor vehicle operators, shocking as that may seem. (see many articles here: http://www.streetsblog.org/?s=wrote+more+tickets+to+cyclists) As for your first assertion, this is incorrect simply because close calls with cyclists are simply far more perceptible (they have to be close to you for it to be a close call) than close calls with drivers. This is borne out by the very fact of the numbers of injuries caused by drivers vs. those caused by cyclists. Drivers create “close calls” with pedestrians when they drive distracted (ubiquitious in NYC), make turns at near full speed without checking to yield to pedestrians (also ubiquitous), and/or engage in various other foolish and/or illegal practices while driving. Because of a motor vehicle’s greater speed, the harm that such driver carelessness causes sneaks up much more abruptly than harm caused by an obnoxious cyclist, so, that combined with the visual isolation from pedestrians that drivers enjoy, perpetuates the myth that cyclists cause more close calls than drivers. Not excusing bad biking. Offering a priority re-calibration.

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