Cyclists protest on Sixth Avenue following the death of David Smith
Last week, we criticized accounts of the death of 63-year-old cyclist David Smith, who was memorialized Wednesday with a Ghost Bike and a die-in on Sixth Avenue. Though Smith was riding in the bike lane and was knocked into traffic by an illegally parked driver who opened his door in Smith’s path, initial media reports portrayed the crash as a blameless "freak mishap."
That was only a taste of what was to come. Here, verbatim, are the first five paragraphs of the Daily News story on Saturday, after another cyclist, Franco Scorcia, was killed at W. 40th and Broadway:
Only one person thought it was still safe for Franco Scorcia to take to the streets by bike – and that was Franco Scorcia.
For years, friends told the 72-year-old Bronx father to "leave the bike alone."
The ex-cabbie’s two sons were so worried about their dad they offered him a car.
"We told him so many times, ‘Don’t ride the bike,’" Scorcia’s son, Vito, 37, recalled Friday.
The elder Scorcia brushed such demands aside, saying he loved cycling too much to quit. It was that fondness for experiencing the city on two wheels that cost him his life Thursday night when he crashed into a charter bus in midtown.
Given such a loaded lede, you’d expect some exposition describing the mistakes Scorcia must have made that led to his death. But aside from strongly implying that Scorcia’s age was somehow a factor, the article includes no details of the crash, other than to say the bus driver was issued six summonses. Regardless, to the writers and editors of this story, Scorcia’s mistake was riding a bike on the streets of New York: "It was that fondness for experiencing the city on two wheels that cost him his life."
As such biased coverage is fairly commonplace, it’s no wonder the causes of cyclist fatalities and the lack of consequences for motorists go unchallenged, especially when the driver is the sole living witness.
Negating the Daily News’ own follow-up coverage that told of how David Smith was known as a safe rider, the Scorcia article links the two deaths — not because they were both killed at the hands of drivers, but because they were both "elderly cyclists" who, readers are to presume, had no business being on bikes. In so many words, the piece says Scorcia was asking for it.
On average this year, a city cyclist has been killed about every 16 days. Conveniently for much of the mainstream New York press — not to mention hostile police, indifferent prosecutors, and reckless motorists — they can’t defend themselves against such charges.