While riding home from work on the morning of March 22, Rodney Seymour was doored by a truck driver. When the police responded to his 911 call, instead of ticketing the doorer, they hit Seymour with two summonses for improperly equipping his bike.
Seymour says he was biking safely, heading home from work in the direction of traffic and wearing an orange reflective vest and helmet. After crossing 10th Street on Third Avenue, heading north, he got doored by a box truck driver, falling onto his shoulder and head. "I was in a little pain and the truck driver suggested I call the cops," said Seymour. "He was very cooperative."
A fire truck and ambulance arrived first.
The EMTs took Seymour’s vitals, gave him an ice pack and suggested he wait for the police to arrive so he could make a report. An accident report is necessary in order to get the doorer to pay a victim’s medical bills under New York’s no-fault law, said Mark Taylor, Seymour’s attorney.
When an officer from the Ninth Precinct arrived on the scene, Seymour found him more interested in avoiding paperwork than helping an injured cyclist. "He got very upset because I was insisting on having a police report," said Seymour. He recalled the officer yelling, "You want a report? You want a report? I’ll give you a report!" (The Ninth Precinct has not returned Streetsblog’s requests for comment.)
The officer then walked back to his vehicle, Seymour said, returning ten minutes later with the report in hand. But that wasn’t all. He’d also brought over two summonses.
The first was for riding a bike without a bell, which Seymour admits he lacked. The second cited Seymour for riding without reflectors on the wheel. According to Taylor, the law only requires reflectors on new bikes for sale. Seymour noted that his bright orange reflective vest and reflective helmet should have made him perfectly visible — that and the fact that it was just before 10 a.m.
While the dooring victim received two tickets, the driver didn’t get a summons at all, Seymour said, just a "sorry for your inconvenience" from the officer. Even though dooring is against the law in New York state. The double standard rankled Seymour. "I thought New York was trying to transform people into riding bicycles," he said. The city’s pro-bike policies will have trouble gaining momentum if invalid and trivial infractions, like riding without reflectors or a bell, get stricter enforcement from NYPD than potentially deadly actions like dooring.
After his encounter with police, Seymour’s terrible morning took one more turn for the worse. When he got back from Beth Israel hospital to pick up his bike, which he had locked up before getting into the ambulance, it was gone — stolen.