Eyes on the Street: Bike Crash in Inwood

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This was the scene at Seaman Avenue and 207th Street in Inwood at around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. It appeared that the cyclist — a white male in his 40s or 50s — was doored by the driver of the Toyota 4Runner. The cyclist was elevating his hand, which was bleeding pretty heavily, before medics arrived. Police on the scene were talking to the woman in the photo after the jump, so I assume she was the driver. I’m no lip reader, but she looked none too thrilled with being held up, or having her picture taken.

I never saw the cyclist emerge from the ambulance, which departed after about 20 minutes. While I was trying to get a clear shot of the SUV, the bike disappeared from the street. Once NYPD and FDNY left the scene, the woman walked south on Seaman, leaving the SUV parked.

I called the 34th Precinct this morning to verify that the cyclist was transported and to ask if the driver received a summons. The officer I spoke with first told me I would need to come down to the station if I wanted information, then said no one on duty during the day would know anything about an incident that happened in the evening. This is typical of how the 34th Precinct interacts with the public.

Seaman Avenue is a pretty busy cycling street. If anyone saw what happened, please let us know in comments. And if you’re the cyclist, we’d love to hear how things turned out.

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  • lee

    Is there any rotation with nypd of officers between modes of transportation?

    That is, do officers do a 6-month stint in a patrol car, a few months in the little tripod car, motorcycle, and bicycle?

    I think it would benefit nypd/cyclist relations greatly and certainly affect the way nypd react to crashes if cops had to do a 3 week rotation on bike a few times a year.

  • My understanding is police officers can volunteer for community patrol on bikes but it’s not mandatory. I wouldn’t be surprised is there were a fair number of police on the force who don’t know how to ride a bike, just as there are officers who don’t know how to ride a motorcycle or a horse. Sending an inexperienced cyclist out into City traffic, armed with a gun, doesn’t sound like a very good idea to me.

    When I was in Philadelphia for protests surrounding the 2000 Republican National Convention Police Commissioner Timony had cops on bikes for crowd control. Officers were trained to line up and use their bikes as a moveable barricade as well as defend themselves against over excited protestors. That’s part of police training – not the kind of tactic officers are supposed to use spontaneously.

  • Cops on bikes will be huge dicks, just like cops in cars are. There’s an occasional bike patrol in Brooklyn Heights, and all they do is ride the wrong way and on the sidewalk.

    The problem is the cops. Changing their conveyance won’t engender any sympathy from them. They’re unsympathetic because they’re basically a protected class, and as such have different incentives, motivations.

    The answer lies in rolling back the militarization of the police, and also in separating ‘support for ‘our boys in blue’ from the concept of good citizenship.

    Someday it will become acceptable in polite society to hate cops. White folks over thirty just don’t get it yet; they see it as a mark of criminality or a lack of class. Confronted with videotaped police brutality (for instance), they spout excuses.

  • The 34th Pct has bike cops. I’ve seen them on Broadway, haranguing the kids who ride fast down the hill on 187th St (then take the elevator back up).

    Kaja, very astute observations there.

  • The real lesson from this is that painted lanes in dooring range are dangerous. Also, the NYPD patrol car parked in said lane forces cyclists out into traffic in an unpredictable manner, another reason painted lanes are dangerous. Protected lanes or no lanes.

  • > Protected lanes or no lanes.

    If you beat a dead horse enough, it arises as a zombie horse.

  • rbb

    aliostuni :

    WUT.

    Painted lanes in dooring range put cyclists at risk of dooring – if they within dooring range. Riding slow-ish and being observant is enough to keep it from happening. Protected lanes or no lanes mentality isn’t realistic, and fails to consider lanes like Prince Street, West 10th Street, and other curbside painted lanes around the city.

    Also, you could argue that all the emergency vehicles in this photo are parked in a manner that is dangerous to cyclists. But that would be really annoying. Emergencies are emergencies, and when you see a police car in the bike lane, you should be prepared to give the benefit of the doubt and just SLOW DOWN. When you see the cops having a lunch break right nearby, then you’ve got great reason to be annoyed.

    The manner in which the cyclist rides into traffic because of the patrol car is up to the individual cyclist. They don’t have to do it in an unpredictable manner, especially since they can see it from practically Cumming Street!

  • Josh

    “I called the 34th Precinct this morning to verify that the cyclist was transported and to ask if the driver received a summons.”

    What would the charge be if she were to receive a summons?

  • NYC Traffic Rules 4-12C: ‘No person shall get out of any vehicle from the side facing on the traveled part of the street in such manner as to interfere with the right of the operator of an approaching vehicle or bicycle.’

    VTL 1214: ‘No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.’

  • rex

    Josh, from the picture I think it would be the whole sunglasses on the head thing. It is just not right.

  • Re: Kaja, while a fairly amusing sarcastic comment, calling for protected lanes is something that bears repeating. Pedestrians have protected sidewalks, motorists have unfettered access to roads, and cyclists need to have dedicated infrastructure. If even the livable streets movement accepts second-class citizenry, then we have very little hope for change.
    Re: rbb, “Protected lanes or no lanes mentality isn’t realistic”: why? Other countries have no problem with this. Let me remind you that NYS law provides for the cyclist taking an entire lane when no painted “bike” lane is available. All the painted lane does is relegate the cyclist to a small, dangerous portion of a lane they’d otherwise be entitled to in full. And it allows self-entitled motorists to exercise a perceived right to enforce “bike” lane usage. It’s fascinating to me that you also endorse routine law-breaking by certain segments of society. Give the benefit of the doubt to the NYPD? Ooh, that’s a good one.
    Rather disappointing consideration of alternate view points on this blog.

  • Stacy – What does carrying a gun have to do with being experienced or inexperienced with a bicycle?

    Very good points, aliostuni. You guys can be a little inconsistent here – on a site where every single auto driver is assumed to be in a state of perpetual law-breaking, to quote a statute that says people have to make sure the lane is clear before opening the door is just laughable. So they’ll break all the laws but this one, and no bicyclist relegated to the bike lane has ever been doored?

    Oh, but we should ride slower so it’s safer, right? So on a road where we could ride with traffic in absence of a bike lane, doing 20 mph, in the presence of a bike lane now we should have to ride 5-8 mph so we can stop in time should someone swing a door open? I find it hard to believe a cyclist would actually espouse such nonsense.

  • > It’s fascinating to me that you also endorse routine law-breaking by certain segments of society. Give the benefit of the doubt to the NYPD? Ooh, that’s a good one.

    I’m the most consistently antipolice poster on Streetsblog. I implied none of the above; only that you’re beating a dead horse. Next someone’s gonna point out that you can’t bail a separated lane when it’s blocked, or an effective cyclist is gonna say you should be in traffic like a car if you’re riding at all, and then we’ll have a derailed thread on our hands.

    Sweet strawman though, textbook execution. 😉

  • nanterking: Some NYPD officers have a hard enough time getting out of hybrid patrol cars http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/nyregion/30hybrid.html We certainly don’t want them wobbling around like a herd of fashionistas, dragging their guns, or worse, falling on them 😉

  • Nanterking’s right, guns have nothing to do with this. They also don’t fire themselves. Nor does possessing a gun make you liable to use it in anger.

    Quit alienating the livable streets supporters who also pack heat.

  • The painted lanes have value, even when overlapping the dooring zone, because they are reasonably safe for use at 5-8 MPH by vigilant bicyclists. A substantial minority, perhaps even a majority, of motorists respect them. It is just too stressful for 5 MPH bicyclists–mostly novices, the young and the old–to take a MV lane, because of motorist harassment. Painted lanes gives these folks a chance to become comfortable, over time, with bicycling in MV traffic.

    It is realistic to expect motorists to look before they open their doors because it poses a real risk of serious injury. A much greater risk, in my view, than most instances in which a motorist exercising reasonable caution engages in moderate speeding or runs a red light. The problem is that motorists think that speeding and red-light running is the more serious violation than opening the door without looking, because they don’t see it from the bicyclist’s perspective, and cops never ticket them for dooring.

    Someone should file a FOIL request to get the police report on this collision.

  • Kaja, that was re: RBB (clearly two separate paragraphs.)

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