Tomorrow: Rally at One Police Plaza Calling on NYPD to Uphold Traffic Laws

Last week, Mathieu Lefevre was biking south on Morgan Avenue in East Williamsburg when he was killed by a truck driver turning right from Morgan onto Meserole Street. The driver parked a short distance away and left the scene. After trying to locate the driver for days, the NYPD finally tracked him down, but as Gothamist’s John Del Signore reported yesterday, they’re not going to file charges. Police say the driver was not aware he struck Lefevre, who died before ambulances reached the scene.

Details about the circumstances of the crash and why police exonerated the driver in a fatal hit-and-run remain scarce. The victim’s family and friends say the police have not been forthcoming.

Juliana Berger, Lefevre’s former wife, told Transportation Alternatives: “I have been with the family since we have received the news on Wednesday. Almost all of the information we have is what we have read in the newspaper. The fact that we have not been properly informed adds insult to injury. The family is trying to cope with this tragedy, but it seems nearly impossible given the lack of information. We can’t bear the fact that other families have likely been given the same treatment and other families are bound to be treated this way if nothing changes.”

Tomorrow, members of Mathieu Lefevre’s family will join TA and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth to call on NYPD and Commissioner Ray Kelly to uphold traffic laws and protect New Yorkers from reckless driving. The rally starts at noon at NYPD headquarters — One Police Plaza — and the public is invited to attend.

  • Mars

    Take your pick, “I didn’t see him” or ” I didn’t know I hit him.” They both work.

  • Joe R.

    “I lost control of the car” seems to work very well also.

  • What time?

  • I hope they include Bloomberg as a target — he is the boss.

  • summer
  • moocow

    If someone reading this is on the fence about going, will you please go for me (and you)? I have to be at work at 6am, and I can’t duck out.
    The police need to know that people are willing to show up and be noisy if they won’t do their job.

  • I don’t know what “One Police Plaza” is. I assume it’s on Madison or one of the streets they usurped after 9/11? Can we get a better location description? I will attend.

  • Anonymous

    How about “I am a biketard who likes to ride after midnight with no lights on my bike because I am the center of the universe”?

  • Anonymous

    How you supposed to see somebody with no lights on their bike?

  • I. Saffron

    http://www.allourideas.org/bikenycvsnypd

    Thank you to TA, NAGG, and the Lefevre family for taking the initiative to bring the outcry to the appropriate institution.

    Please spread and participate in the solution-finding tool linked above to figure out how else we can demand accountability and safer streets.

  • Matt

    It’s sickening enough when some ordinary citizen kills someone with their automobile and gets off scott free.  But this was someone driving a truck for a living.  No other profession can get away with negligence – death resulting – with the callus claim amounting to “sorry, I am incompetent” and walk away not just without punishment, but also to return to their “job” the very next day. 

    About a year ago two pilots who did the airline equivalent of missing an exit – had to make a U-turn in the sky and landed an hour late.  Nobody got hurt.  They both lost their careers and will never fly again.  
    Nobody died, but they suffered consequences for their simple negligence, slight inconvenience resulting. 

    A human being died because someone was not doing his job, but that someone can go back to that job tomorrow and possibly kill again. 

    When 100 people are killed each day on American roads, an event like this is not an accident.  It’s predictable.  It’s preventable.  And if all the police can do is powerlessly shrug their shoulders and say no law was violated, well then the state has failed to protect the people, and it is ultimately culpable.  I hope the family has the means to pursue this, and sue the state/city/municipality for failure to protect this citizen’s most fundamental right – the right to life. 

  • J

    Ugh. I wish I could go. It’s shameful how indifferent the NYPD and DA are to bicyclist deaths. It’s kill at will, unless you’re drunk.

  • J

    Also, Copenhagenize sums up our viewpoint towards cars as like a sacred bull in society’s china shop. We treat cars barreling through our cities as a given, and accept whatever injury and deaths occur as the fault of whoever dares get in their way. It’s beyond sad, really. It’s inhuman.

    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2009/10/sacred-bull-in-societys-china-shop.html

  • Again, I’d like to know if Mathieu Lefevre was riding his bike with a proper complement of lights fore and aft in proper working order.  If he was, I feel that the truck driver should be prosecuted.  If not, well….

    Still, imagine the NYPD letting someone of the hook for accidentally discharging a legally owned firearm while cleaning it perhaps, and then the bullet kills someone.  It would never happen! 

    “Oops!  Officer!  I didn’t know that when my gun went off, that the bullet killed my neighbor across the street.”

    Cops, “Oh you didn’t know?  Its okay then.  You didn’t know you killed someone, then its only an accident.  Have a nice day.”

  • moocow

    Let’s say he wasn’t Andy, should he give up his life for it? What about the cut and dry at fault motortists who kill peds and cyclists? They aren’t being even slapped on the wrist.
    How often do you see motorists breaking the law, and not ending up dead? They are a danger to all around them, not just themselves. Running lights, rolling through lights, driving without them on, u-turns, speeding, double parking, illegal passing and driving the wrong way down streets. These are I things I expect to see while riding to work this morning at 530am.

    (And just because you have that State you reside in your name, this shouldn’t absolve you from feeling extreme embarrassment that you just blamed a cyclist for his own death on a post aboout rallying to end traffic violence towards vulnerable street users in NYC)

  • Just this morning on the metro, page 6, it was reported that an 86 year old woman was struck by a tow truck while crossing the street.  The tow truck driver made a left turn right into her.  This happened yesterday morning, no charges were pressed.

    This is utterly ridiculous

  • What drives me nuts is that NYPD routinely delays disclosure of the investigative file for months after it is closed, for no good reason, and in violation of its obligations under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). In the meanwhile, NYPD announces its conclusions as to what happened, and there is no way to test those conclusions because all we have is the NYPD version, and maybe a second-hand eyewitness account reported through the media.  NYPD might have good reasons to have reached the conclusions they did in this case, but we won’t know unless someone brings a FOIL request, and even then, the information won’t come out for 6 or more months.  By that time, the mainstream media has lost interest and won’t bother to report on a botched or biased NYPD investigation, even if the investigative file clearly shows it.

  • carma

    Andy, Bad analogy with the gun.

    Any legal gun owner would NEVER leave a bullet in the barrel/magazine.  trust me, the NYPD will write up a gun charge.  anybody stupid enough to play that defense should be arrested on spot.

  • Eileen

    I was visiting NYC till yesterday; if I was still there, I’d be at your rally. If it’s any comfort (it won’t be), I was one of those hundreds who walked with Pete Seeger and other musicians from Symphony Space down to Columbus Circle Saurday night and the police were out in force, making sure we always stayed on the sidewalk.  Whenever someone even looked like they might step off the curb into the street, the threat of arrest — for jaywalking, I guess — loomed.  So, there are times and places they’ll enforce the traffic laws…

  • I’m going to this.  I hope a lot of you are too.

  • Anonymous

    @d8d46f16f380afef59ca318522397233:disqus , I’m glad all legal gun owners are perfect. Unlike motorists. A legal motorist would NEVER turn without looking and without signaling, or would NEVER drive drunk. Yet many of them do, and kill pedestrians and cyclists while doing so. It’s very likely that at least some of these things that NEVER happen actually happened in this case, but I wonder if we’ll ever know.

    I don’t know whether prison is warranted in this case or not, but the MINIMUM common-sense measure would be to suspend the driver’s license. He already showed he can’t be trusted with such deadly machinery.

  • carma

    qrt145,

    nobody is perfect in anything.  a legal gun owner knows the insides and outs of a gun, and knows how to hold a gun properly.  if you ever watch movies, the heroes are always portrayed as holding a gun with the index finger already on the trigger.

    this can not be far from the reality of a responsible gun owner.  you NEVER put your index finger on the trigger unless you are actually shooting.

    most of the stories you hear about guns misfiring, etc.. are almost ALWAYS from an illegal gun owner.  Im so glad that the NYPD made a big case out of plaxico burress. that is one stupid fool for having a weapon loaded where it can easily catch onto his clothes and misfire.

    we need more strict gun laws, not stupid gun laws.

  • Anonymous

    Carma, you should read up on the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman ). You just redefined “legal gun owner” as “responsible gun owner” really meaning “someone who knows how to handle a gun safely”. Sure, someone who knows how to handle a gun safely can handle a gun safely. But that has absolutely nothing to do with whether the gun owner is legal or not. In some states, you can practically go to the grocery store and buy a gun with minimum hassle. That is perfectly legal, regardless of whether you know how to handle the gun safely or not.

    The analogy with driving is sound. In both cases, you have a dangerous tool that requires some sort of license or regulation to handle, and that must be used responsibly. The point of the analogy is to show that there are completely different standards in practice (despite the fact that motor vehicles kill more people than guns).

  • To moocow,

    Look, I have great deal of sympathy for Mathieu and his family but I see WAY too many cyclists riding without light and riding in completely reckless and illegal manners.  And the worst cyclists I’ve ever seen are in New York (which is no surprise with the overall “Wild West” nature of driving in the City thanks to an NYPD that could care less about traffic violence).  I was walking down 9th Avenue after the New Amsterdam Bike show last year and somewhere between 80% to 90% of the cyclists I saw where breaking the law in one form or another (it was dark so most of these infractions were riding without lights).

    Riding without lights at night is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible to not only oneself but to other road users.  By asking the question doesn’t mean I’m not blaming Mathieu for his own death but I, like his family want to know the details surrounding the crash before I draw a conclusion about his or the driver’s actions.Just because I’m asking this question does mean I’m personally letting
    the driver off the hook nor the NYPD for its flippant an callous
    handling of this and hundreds of other cases.

    From what I see out on the streets here in Jersey and in NYC, is that an overwhelming percentage of cyclists (>90%) ride at night WITHOUT lights so I feel it is a legitimate question to ask.

    And for the record I commute to work most days on a 30 mile round trip.  For the last month or so I’ve dutifully used both a high-quality head and tail light for my dark evening commute as required by NJ law. 

    You’ve got to give respect to get respect!

  • Joe R.

    Andy B, I’m with you on the lights.  The single most dangerous thing a cyclist can do is ride at night without lights.  While it’s true you should ride as if you’re invisible, which basically means don’t depend upon others seeing you for your safety, you’re bound to have lapses.  That’s when lights might save you.  Years ago, one may have had a legitimate excuse not to have lights.  Incandescent bulbs sucked battery power really quickly, rechargeable batteries didn’t have much capacity, bulbs often ended up with broken filaments after hitting potholes, and even best case needed to be replaced frequently.  Until LED lighting caught on, I gave up on lighting my bike.  It was just too much of a hassle, and way too expensive.  LED lighting changed all that.  LEDs put out 5 to 10 times the light for any given amount of power, never burn out (if properly designed into a headlight), are immune to shocks, and give a whiter light which is better for seeing.  Add in the fact that today’s rechargeable batteries have 3 times the capacity, and don’t self discharge (i.e. Eneloops).  A person is really out of excuses not to have a decent headlight and tail flasher.

  • moocow

    Andy, you end your first paragraph implying that if the bike rider had no lights, then the truck driver really shouldn’t be prosecuted.
    I can’t stand cyclists who ride without lights, I always have them, and bitch at those who don’t. Mr. Lefevre’s friends said he usually rode with them.
    The give or take 90% of cyclists you see with out them, don’t deserve to have someone who kills them on the road prosecuted? That’s what your … meant to me.

    And good luck with that giving and getting respect, Is that what Ray Kelly and the non existant DA are waiting for?

  • carma

    lights are cheap insurance.  i bought my front/rear set for $20.  its a nice white LED light in front and a Red LED in the rear.  both have a solid and flashing function.  quite visible for other drivers.  nice and bright.  so bright in fact, i took them off my bike and used it as a flashlight in the house during Hurricane Irene.

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