Bicycle riders in New York City face more than their fair share of hazards. Narrow streets, Midtown gridlock, cabbies with hair-trigger habits and careening delivery trucks all make the margin for error razor thin. When bicyclists are injured in NYC motor vehicle accidents, the personal injuries they suffer are usually serious, and all too often fatal.
The advocacy group Transportation Alternatives has taken the NYPD to task for failing to issue citations to reckless drivers who make New York streets much more dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. Over the past decade, more than 1,700 bicyclists and pedestrians have been killed in New York City, and 60 percent of accidents with known causes were due to dangerous and illegal driving behavior.
However, none of the recent string of fatal bike accidents in Brooklyn resulted in a citation to the driver:
- The August deaths of cyclists Chris Doyle in Williamsburg and Erica Abbott on Bushwick Avenue
- The September fatal bicycle accident on Borinquen Place that took the life of Nicholas Djandji
- The death of rider Mathieu Lefevre in October on Morgan Avenue, which involved a driver who left the scene of the bike accident
Street safety advocates recently spoke outside NYPD headquarters to draw attention to eleven other cyclist and pedestrian deaths that involved witness accounts or other evidence of reckless driving, but no charges to the driver. Transportation Alternatives has announced an investigation of the NYPD Accident Investigation Squad, and the NYC Public Advocate office started its own inquiry to ensure that new state laws are enforced against negligent or drunk drivers.
Consistent and serious enforcement of traffic laws is a critical strategy for making NYC streets and intersections safer for all citizens. Regardless of the criminal outcome in any case, personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits provide a means for accident victims and surviving family members to hold reckless and negligent drivers accountable.